November 8, 2019 Last updated November 8th, 2019 1,859 Reads share

Online or Offline? Which Is The Best Marketing Strategy?

Marketing Techniques To Boost AwarenessImage Credit: DepositPhotos

Every single business you’ve ever heard of uses a type of marketing strategy, but rarely is it the case that they use only one type. What I mean is that there is no brand out there that only focuses on offline compared to online promotions. Usually, it’s a mix of both types to yield the best results, however, it’s always obvious which one the company tries to emphasize based on their business model or various other aspects.

For example, it’s very rare to find a company, whose business model primarily prioritizes the older generation to focus on online promotions as they know that their target market will most likely not be influenced by it. Therefore they focus on buying up banners all over the city and trying to spread information through Television or just flyers across the busiest streets.

These types of strategies have been tried and tested, and have yielded amazing results. But, it can’t be denied that the more “digitally influenceable” population is slowly but surely starting to reach the prime consumer age, which means that companies need to adjust.

In this article, I’d like to display some advantages as well as disadvantages of online vs offline promotion as well as telemarketing mixed in.

Pros and Cons of online marketing

Globalization – Pro

Saying that online marketing allows a business to instantly go global is an understatement. Any type of company that has aspirations to compete in the global market is absolutely required to have a comprehensive marketing strategy. Why? Because it helps to concentrate the marketing strategy into one simple channel rather than have multiple people go to various countries, study their promotion laws and adjust the price as they go.

Sponsored content, boosts, and various other tools that social media, as well as ad placement on various websites, provides, helps bring in customers not only from a specific age group or location but from all available options.

Sure, the ads can be very personalized to suit a very small market percentage to keep them as relevant as possible, but not that many companies who do elaborate online marketing strategies worldwide dedicate too much time towards targeted ads.

For example, let’s take a fashion brand like H&M. It is both an affordable clothing brand as well as a slightly more expensive luxury good sometimes. The offline locations may display only the cheapest collection items, but they’re usually dedicated towards the middle of working-class people.

Online marketing strategies from H&M can be directed to a much wider variety of audiences. Their primary marketing focus can still fall towards the middle class but in this case the middle class of the world.

But when it comes to things such as luxury goods, for example, a Rolex watch, it’s very unlikely that a working-class person will ever see that type of ad appear in front of them.

Circumvention of regulation – Pro

Another big plus for online marketing is that it’s capable of circumventing regulations. What does this mean? It means that targeted ads can potentially find loopholes in numerous regulations all over the world.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not advocating for breaking the law, but circumventing those that make no sense at all.

Let’s take Norway as an example. The country is quite rich and has some of the best democratic values out of all the sovereign nations we could list here. However, they have a really serious issue with monopolies in the country. Strange, right? One wouldn’t expect a country like Norway to justify a monopoly.

But they do, and it’s controlled by the government. The industry that is monopolized is online gaming. All of the Norwegian citizens that would like to participate in a lottery, or place a bet on who’s going to be the next Prime Minister are forced to do so in an SOE (State Owned Enterprise).

This discourages the population knowing that they cannot hide their identities in this industry, which could have prime ramifications on their social profiles as well as their credit score with the bank.

Therefore, companies that hope to cater to this clientele are forced to circumvent the regulations by masking their digital presence through personalized ads. The information on who enters and uses gaming services are usually readily available to advertisers, meaning they can target their clients much more easily.

Combining the ads with the Norwegian laws (which don’t hold customers accountable for using foreign platforms) they can spread the information about the alternative sports betting sites Norway has to offer. This not only helps spread a bit more democracy in the region but also allows people to access these platforms without ever violating regulations. Overall, such a strategy is only possible through digital means rather than physical.

Research heavy – Con

Although a digital marketing strategy can be very inclusive, it needs extreme amounts of buildup and a constant chase of something very innovative.

The world of business is very loud, and if you can’t get past the noise to make yourself seem noteworthy, you will drown in that very noise you’re trying to one-up. Therefore, marketing specialists are always trying to include something new, try something revolutionary or approach a strategy from a different angle.

Things such as an interactive ad, where the potential customers could chat with a bot, or an ad that includes some kind of giveaway tend to work the best, but it all requires extreme amounts of research, preparation, and staffing.

Although many say that digital marketing is much cheaper compared to offline marketing, that’s not necessarily the case sometimes. The sheer amount of funds that go into hiring professionals and funding their projects needs to be taken into account. Sure it may cost just a few hundred dollars to boost a Facebook post, but the research, buildup, and polishing of that post is what drains most of the budget.

Furthermore, digital marketing is much more interactive, meaning that there needs to be a human being responsible for answering a client’s question or interacting with them in the comment section. That also takes quite a lot of skills and the consideration of a brand’s identity. In order to do so, the person needs to be skilled and experienced, and that can cost quite a lot.

Overall, it’s easy to say that digital marketing may seem very passive on the surface, but in reality, it’s the one that requires the most interaction and dedication. For a small company targeting a large market, that could simply be impossible. Imagine if a million people see your ad and message you at the same time. Would a team of 5 people be able to answer all of the questions and provide relevant information? No, not really. That is why most small companies promote their products to be sold immediately rather than have it looked into in a deeper sense.

Pros and Cons of offline marketing

Brand awareness – Pro

No matter how much we try to deny it, all types of marketing affect us and leave some kind of impression. In fact, people who tend to say that ads don’t affect them are the most affected ones of them all.

But what does offline marketing have to do with impressing one’s audience? Simple, it’s very consistent and part of people’s lives.

What do I mean by this? Banners of course. Even if the banners are not necessarily designed for selling the product, it still helps cement the idea of the brand in the customer’s mind that this company sells this specific product.

How does this happen? Through our subconscious of course.

There is a very important reason as to why companies try to rent billboards that are in primary traffic locations. When a human is deprived of interactive surroundings, we become desperate for some kind of entertainment.

Imagine yourself in a car, going home from work and being stuck in traffic. Your only salvation is the music you can turn on in the car, or maybe an audiobook that you could be listening too.

Even though these two are great interactive distractions from the monotony of being stuck in traffic, we still crave visual interaction, meaning that we want to see rather than hear. This is where the billboard comes in. Try to remember how many times you’ve focused on a specific billboard when in traffic. You probably know what that company sells by heart.

And even if you’re not stuck in traffic in that specific street, your subconscious still recognizes that there’s a billboard nearby that you’re aware of. This creates not only brand recognition but brand loyalty as well. The next time you will require a product that specific billboard was advertising, you’ll immediately remember the company brand, thus be more likely to buy from them.

Neuromarketing – Pro

Neuromarketing primarily focuses on the senses, as many as them as possible. That is why digital marketing isn’t necessarily the best option for this type of strategy. For example, what senses can you use when viewing an ad? Your sight and your hearing, right? But on a psychological level, that still does not leave a consistent feeling. Almost all of the senses need to be taking effect, and especially those that have to do with “sensation”.

Let’s take McDonald’s as an example. Their Neuromarketing strategy revolves around four main senses, taste, sight, hearing and smell. Let’s break them down equally.

The taste is pretty obvious. It’s very hard to either get a McDonald’s tasting burger anywhere else, as well as make it at home. They have their specific cooking tactics that have managed to remain quite unique.

Next is the sight. The Red and Yellow colors have been proven to make us slightly more hungry, or at least more likely to eat something. Plus they’ve used it pretty much in all of their marketing campaigns, it’s almost impossible to not notice it anymore. The only deviation is with their staff clothing which is sometimes dark green.

Then we have the hearing sense. In this case, it’s not as persistent as the rest of the senses, but we can all agree that hearing Mambo Number 5 immediately reminds us of the kid’s center in McDonald’s.

And finally, we get to the smell. Try to imagine at least one occasion in your life when you were passing a McDonald’s location and you didn’t feel the smell of their cooking. Even if McDonald’s is something you’d never have in your life, the smell is enough to get you to enter. And it’s extremely distinct. Should McDonald’s ever be allowed to spread the smell all over the city, they’d most likely get the whole population to order something, simply because they’d recognize it right away.

And that can only be done through offline marketing.

Conversion – Con

Offline marketing has one big flaw to it and that’s conversion. You see, offline marketing is a lot more passive through the billboards. Why is it passive? Because it doesn’t have a serious chance of producing a sale immediately.

Once the customer sees the billboard or the brand logo, they may have the desire to go to purchase the product, but not the desire to put in the effort. There are a plethora of reasons as to why. The shop is too far away, or the product requires a lot more research and analysis, price comparisons and consultation before purchasing.

With digital marketing, advertisers can immediately provide all of the relevant information as well as the price comparisons and consultation with a click of a button. Thus, this increases the chances that the user will make the purchase immediately, thus giving that strategy a much better conversion rate.

The only Pro that can be found in this Con of conversion for offline marketing is that, once the customer enters the shop they are much more likely to purchase additional things that they were initially planning to. With digital, it’s very hard to convince a client to spend more, while offline stores have a specific layout to lead to that result.

So…..which one’s better?

I’m not going to give you the cliche, “it depends” conclusion here. I can confidently say that digital marketing is much better when it comes to sales numbers. And what does the business survive? That’s right, sales numbers.

Offline marketing may be great for brand awareness, but the end product needs to be the sale, therefore revenue, and therefore profit.

Furthermore, considering that dozens of apps are being developed by specific companies for their online stores, a conversion could become even easier for digital marketing as compared to offline options.

Giorgi Mikhelidze

Giorgi Mikhelidze

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