Overcoming the Challenges of Combining Offline and Online Media Strategies


Over the past several years, digital marketing has become the preferred method to reach consumers for a host of reasons. In Q1 of last year, US adults spent 3 hours and 48 minutes per day on computers, tablets, and smartphones. These popular devices give marketers the chance to reach audience members with highly targeted messaging while at work, on lunch breaks, commuting, and more. As a result, 2019 promises to be the year that digital ad spend surpasses that of traditional channels such as print, radio, and television.

Even as digital dollars grow, it is worth remembering that traditional media is not without merit. Campaigns that integrate online and offline channels with relevant messaging will engage consumers in more direct ways to meet business goals, while improving customer experience and brand awareness.

However, coordinating integrated online and offline strategies can be challenging for many reasons. Here we explore why integrated campaigns work, what challenges marketers can expect to face when building these campaigns, and how to overcome them.

Why Integrate Online and Offline Campaigns

When you search for examples of successful integrated online and offline campaigns – you find hardly any. Rather, you are met with articles explaining the difference between the two, and how to transition away from traditional channels into digital channels.

Though marketing is certainly trending towards digital, this total abandonment of offline channels is somewhat misguided. A fully formed marketing campaign needs two key things in order to be successful: conversions, and a resonant brand. While not entirely exclusive, one could argue that when working with only digital or traditional mediums, you are emphasizing only one half of these needs.

  • Digital ads lend themselves well to conversions and actions – emphasizing your product. If a consumer is interested in your message, they can click and instantly be on your site, browsing your store, filling out forms, etc. Additionally, digital ads are faster to measure and optimize, allowing more frequent updates as consumer preferences become more defined. Their measurability makes it easier to determine attribution and justify spend.
  • Offline marketing tactics, such as TV spots or events, enable brands to forge deeper connections with consumers – ones that are harder to make in the one second marketers have to catch a consumer’s attention when scrolling through their email or feed. This trend towards establishing an emotional connection is why we have seen a shift in television ads of late to emphasize brand values over product features. This is crucial, as established brand equity can make consumers willing to pay more for products and can assist in consumer retention.

The goal of integrating your online and offline campaign strategies is to deliver a positive customer experience, informed by each customers’ stage in the buyer’s journey and what they value in a brand. By combining offline and online media tactics, organizations can create awareness, establish customer relationships, and drive revenue. Today’s customer journey is rarely linear and brands need to engage with consumers across the media mix in order to drive the most value from their advertising.

Overcoming Challenges Integrating Online and Offline Campaigns

To be successful and drive conversions while building brand awareness, digital and offline experiences need to be cohesive and adaptable based on changing consumer preferences. They must be informed by specific messaging and channel preferences. The difference between the types of content on online and offline mediums, and how those mediums are measured, makes this congruity a challenge in several ways:

Data Silos:

When it comes to crafting campaigns that work across online and digital channels, a key challenge that many will encounter are data silos.

The success of online and offline campaigns is likely being measured in separate platforms, using different KPIs, and potentially looked after by separate teams. Without integrated visibility into what campaigns are running where, who has been exposed to each touchpoint, which brand or product elements are being emphasized, and more, it will be impossible for marketing teams to create cohesive online and offline campaigns.

The first step to overcoming this challenge is to ensure that any disparate teams that work on online or offline campaigns are introduced and informed on how they will need to coordinate. A primary focus in this regard will be understanding which KPIs are used to measure the success of each touchpoint, and how those KPIs can be compared to one another. For this to occur, be sure to store the most up-to-date online and offline data on a centralized platform that each team member can reference.

This visibility will help with campaign planning. With all of this data in one place, teams can identify consumer trends and purchase history, as well as stage in the sales funnel based on past engagements, and develop ways to target those customers.

Discrepancies in Measurability

One reason that digital marketing has become so popular is that it is highly measurable. Marketing teams can get fast, person-level insights into the efficacy of their campaigns. This enables them to understand exactly who has engaged with each touchpoint and how they responded, in addition to providing insight into which channels they prefer, and at what times of the day they are more likely to engage. From there, marketing teams can adjust digital campaigns as needed.

Offline campaigns are much harder to measure at the person-level, typically using aggregate attribution models such as media mix modeling (MMM). This model uses long-term data to look at how campaigns impacted conversions. It gives a broader understanding of buyer trends, not factoring in individuals. MMM is often compared to multi-touch attribution (MTA), which evaluates how specific touchpoints along the customer journey impacted a consumer’s decision to convert. MTA is typically used in digital campaigns

Despite common reliance on MMM, it is not impossible to get more granular insights from offline channels. Marketing teams can leverage various second and third-party data sources such as print media subscription lists, smart TV data, broadcast zip codes, and more, which can help assign engagements to specific consumers.

With these insights, marketing teams can better understand the specific desires of each customer. This helps marketers serve them more targeted, cohesive messaging on each online and offline channel with which they engage, improving customer experience.

To achieve this, marketing teams should leverage unified marketing measurement (UMM). UMM is an attribution model that combines the capabilities of multi-touch attribution and media mix modeling, along with predictive analytics. This gives marketing teams a holistic view of how online and offline campaigns are performing. UMM works by aggregating data collected across campaigns, touchpoints, and attribution models. The information is correlated and normalized, and informed by additional data sources to better assign behavior to specific consumers. This makes it possible for marketers to compare the success of online and offline campaigns. With these more actionable datasets, marketers can determine which campaigns have a greater impact across audience segments and how to better meet consumer demands across channels.

With predictive analytics, organizations can determine what must optimized for future iterations of integrated campaigns.

Understanding Brand Impact

Serving the right message, on the right channel, at the right time is key to generating conversions. However, it is important to remember the role that brand equity plays in generating ROI and creating positive customer experiences. Measuring how your campaigns, both online and offline, effect brand perception can be challenging, but is essential to understanding what resonates with your consumers and for building a cohesive identity across channels.

Additionally, understanding how brand awareness and equity contribute to ROI can also assist in media planning and where to focus funds. For example, while there may not be a direct way to tie viewing a TV ad to an in-store purchase, brand tracking efforts may indicate that positive perception created by the ad caused a consumer to select the brand over a competitor.

With this in mind, teams must incorporate brand tracking and measurement capabilities when creating integrated online and offline marketing campaigns. Through the use of sentiment analysis, customer surveys, and brand impact surveys, marketers can quantify important metrics such as brand preference, loyalty, and association.

With this understanding, marketing teams can build cohesive campaigns that amplify positive attributes in order to improve customer experience, and campaign ROI, especially when working with offline channels.

Key Takeaways

Integrating online and offline campaigns allows organizations to emphasize products and conversions alongside brand values and emotional connections with users. Online display ads may show a consumer a sale on the weatherproof jacket needed for an upcoming trip, while TV ads emphasize the brand’s sustainability and transparency. The integration also assists is creating a cohesive image and tone that is easily identified.

Differing strategies for measurement and differing KPIs can make it difficult to disseminate the right message to the right consumer across channels. However, by centralizing data, leveraging a unified measurement model, and quantifying brand awareness, marketing teams can get an accurate view of the impact each channel has on each consumer to better align online and offline efforts.

Author Bio:

Jason Palleschi is the Product Marketing Director for Marketing Evolution. He has 15 years of experience in planning and executing marketing strategies for B2B Fortune 500 companies and start-up environments. Jason’s career spans multiple industries including Security Technology, Education and Financial Services. He recently completed a Master’s of Integrated Marketing at NYU with a focus on digital marketing. Connect with him about marketing measurement, sales enablement and product launch and campaign management on LinkedIn.