Fifth Gear is proud to feature this guest post from Thierry Costa, VP of Marketing for our friends at SLI Systems, Fifth Gear’s official partner for site search technology. SLI’s new mobile site search solutions make your brand experience more seamless than ever. Enjoy!
4 Tips for Blending Online and Offline Marketing
Contributor: Thierry Costa
As mobile commerce grows and new customer engagement technologies emerge, the once strong distinctions between online and offline marketing are gone. If you’re looking for ideas on how to blend your digital and physical marketing efforts, below are some ways you can get started. By doing so, you stand to increase sales and give your customers a more consistent shopping experience across your different channels and strengthen your brand.
Offer promotions and customer interactions both online and in-person
Sites like Groupon and Living Social have demonstrated the value of making offers online that can be redeemed in a physical store. These types of promotions allow you to track the online influence on in-store purchases, and also allow you to reach customers wherever they are. You can twist it around and give customers a special code on their in-store purchase receipt that can be entered online to receive additional offers. Once they’ve entered the code you can tie this purchase to previous online activity, and continue to monitor how the customer interacts with your brand.
Emphasize search box on web and mobile sites
Many people still prefer to use the search box to navigate a site – and search generates higher conversion rates than standard navigation. On mobile devices, customers typically want to find a specific product and information very quickly, whereas on the web they have more time and a better interface to browse. Either way, a good site search is critical – and particularly on mobile devices, search should be the focal point. It must deliver relevant information and it must be fast. You should also make it easy for customers to compare prices, read consumer reviews and order products they’ll pick up later in your store – all from their mobile devices.
Maintain a consistent experience across multiple channels
No matter where your shoppers are when doing their research or making a purchase – e.g. their computer, mobile device, catalog, or in a physical store – they should have a consistent experience with your brand. First, the look and feel of your website should match the look and feel of your catalog, your mobile commerce site (as much as is possible on a smaller screen), your advertising, and your physical stores if you have any.
Additionally, your site search should accommodate customers who use a product number from the catalog as a keyword, and take them straight to the product page. Also, if you have user ratings on your site, you should include the star ratings on product labels in the store and in your catalog – and take it a step further by including a call for people to look up the product on a kiosk or their mobile device to see the ratings and read reviews.
Flexibility and convenience are a must online and offline
While many consumers like being able to touch and see a product in a physical store, many others want to spend time thinking or comparison shopping before making a purchase – which they may choose to do online rather than return to the store. For this reason, you should make sure anything that can be bought in the store or catalog can also be bought online. Likewise, when customers purchase online, give them the option to pick up the item in a store, as they may prefer not to pay shipping charges or they may not want to wait but rather pick-up the item right away.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Once you do, you’ll probably find other ways to combine your online and offline marketing efforts. Just remember that providing a consistent, convenient customer experience across all channels is critical. By doing so, you’ll garner more brand visibility and strengthen your customer relationships.
Thierry Costa is vice president of marketing for SLI Systems, a company that develops learning-based search and navigation technology for publishers, ecommerce and corporate sites that Searches, Learns, and Improves the user experience. SLI Systems is Fifth Gear’s official partner for site search technologies.