Brand Marketing >October 9, 2019

Online Vs. Offline Brand Marketing — Which Is Best for You?

October 9, 2019
Laura Harker
Freelance Writer & Editor

No matter how good you think your brand’s advertizing and marketing strategy is right now, there’s always room for improvement.

One way you can improve both is by deciding whether to focus more on online or offline brand marketing. First, think about what type of advertising you to try out and who it will benefit. Next, create an execution plan which outlines each step of your strategy. Finally, you’ll need to analyze your data to see what worked and what didn’t.

But which method — online or offline — is the right brand marketing for you? This article will cover both to help you discover which one your brand should concentrate on.

What Is Online Brand Marketing?

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Online brand marketing is a catch-all term for the different ways brands can market and advertise their products and services online.

In today’s highly digital world, there are numerous online channels and platforms you can leverage for your brand marketing.

From email marketing and social media adverts to optimizing your site and setting up Google ads, brands use online marketing to reach their target audiences in the digital hotspots they tend to hang out in — think Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Amazon.

The Benefits of Online Brand Marketing

Online brand marketing dominates most companies’ advertizing strategies these days and provides the following benefits.

1. Easy to Measure

Thanks to analytics and insight tools (think Google Analytics or a social media tool such as Hootsuite), you’ll be able to track how well your online adverts are doing.

By measuring their performance, you can refine your strategy so that, for future campaigns, you only use methods that bring results.

2. Long-Term Exposure

Certain types of online brand marketing will provide you with long-term exposure, such as SEO and some sponsored adverts.

Such online marketing options are very cost-effective, as you’ll benefit from long-term results without spending too much money.

3. Easy to Target Key Audiences

When creating an online ad, you’re able to choose exactly who will see it — making it possible to reach only people in your specific target audience.

This way, you won’t be wasting money on showing your ads to people who won’t be interested.

4. Affordable

Compared to offline advertising, online ads tend to be more affordable.

Therefore, it’s easier for new brands with smaller budgets to reach their target audience with online marketing — especially using methods like social media, which can be completely free.

5. Target Mobile Customers

These days, when surfing the internet, more people are using mobile than desktop. So, it’s essential that you keep this in mind when choosing who to target.

The majority of online ads can now be tailored for mobile users, meaning you won’t miss out on anyone.

6. Benefit From a Greater Reach

Online ads can reach a truly remarkable number of people.

If you create an ad that users react well to and engage with, it can spread even further than you might think.

7. Build Relationships with Customers

Chances are, your target audience will see your online ads a few times.

Ideally, this will help them start to recognize your brand — which is great news for brand awareness. The more they see you, then the more they will come to trust you.

Eventually, this trust and recognition should strengthen their brand loyalty.

What Is Offline Brand Marketing?

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Alternatively, we have offline brand marketing, which is the use of various offline media (think TV, print, etc.) to help marketers boost their brand’s awareness.

Essentially, offline marketing encompasses all the methods that companies have been using for decades — long before the internet took off.

Some among you may even be surprised to learn that the digital revolution didn’t completely kill off all offline marketing methods — they’re still very much alive and worth considering.

The Benefits of Offline Brand Marketing

Of course, offline brand marketing comes with its own set of benefits as well. Even though some methods may seem a bit outdated, they can still be beneficial in a number of ways.

1. Provides Customers with Something Tangible

In some situations, we’d rather have something physical to hold over something digital, right?

That’s certainly the case for many people and is evident in something like the music industry — even though the majority of music is available in digital formats, vinyl records have become increasingly popular.

This is also the case with advertising — whether you give consumers business cards, pamphlets, or branded merch, they love having things that they can hold and keep.

2. Builds Relationships When Networking

Those business cards will also come in handy at networking events.

Networking is a great way to spread the word about your brand in real life. It also provides you the opportunity to speak with people face-to-face, so you can answer questions directly and show a more human side to your business.

Some even say this is the best form of offline brand marketing.

3. Reach Your Audience When They're Attentive

People who are watching TV or reading newspapers are usually quite focused on the task at hand.

Alternatively, those scrolling through social media or browsing online aren’t as focused as they could be.

Think about it: using a TV or newspaper ad gives you the chance to be noticed by people who are focused and will give your marketing their full attention. This is something offline brand marketing does best.

4. A Chance to Be Creative

You can really mix things up with offline brand marketing campaigns.

Use catchy jingles for TV or radio ads, create colorful sponsorship branding for a big event, invite colleagues to your office open-house, or go bold with out-of-home advertising and a flash mob.

Offline offers far more options than online, which makes it easier to be super creative.

5. Can Work Well Alongside Online Marketing

Nevertheless, there’s no reason to stick with just offline brand marketing. There are plenty of benefits to be had by pairing the two together, as there are many ways that they can work well together.


The Disadvantages of Online Brand Marketing

Now — to be fair, both forms of brand marketing also have their disadvantages, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on them as well.

Turns out, online brand marketing isn’t the hole-in-one it might at first appear to be. Unfortunately, it can come with a few downsides...

1. Dependent on Technology

Online brand marketing is, quite obviously, completely dependant on tech.

Your online ads won’t reach consumers who don’t use specific types of tech. No mobile phone? I guess you won’t be included in a brand’s mobile ad targeting.

Furthermore, you might have to invest in various software and programs to ensure you can successfully carry out certain online ads.

What’s more, in the event that your company suffers any internet downtime, you won’t be able to update ads or track and measure current ones.

2. Worldwide Competition

One of the big benefits of the internet is that it opens up international markets for small brands.

While that’s great in one sense, it also means that your brand will have to deal with a lot of stiff competition. If your ads aren’t up to par, they won’t stand out in such an oversaturated market.

3. Customers Often Ignore Online Ads

We’ve all been there, scrolling through our social media timelines or reading news online when an ad pops up.

We don’t know about you, but we tend to scroll right past ads to get to what we really wanted to see.

That’s how most internet users react to online adverts these days — they simply ignore them. So, you need to do all that you can to make sure your online brand marketing stops them in their tracks.

4. Limited Face-to-Face Contact

Consumers like to see the human side of brands that they interact with.

Unfortunately, online marketing doesn’t make this easy, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to come up with ingenious ways of getting past that. Perhaps video calls for with your Customer Service team?

The Disadvantages of Offline Brand Marketing

Going down the offline brand marketing route will also throw a few bumps in the road.

For example, consider the following:

1. Difficult to Measure

Online ads may have their pitfalls, but they’re at least easy to measure thanks to all the available analytics. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for tracking offline brand marketing — most brands just release a new ad into the wild and hope it brings new customers.

However, there are a few ways you can try to measure your offline efforts. Traditionally, marketers looked at sale numbers and profits. If they increased, then an ad has done well.

But if you’re looking for a more accurate, data-driven approach, you can use Latana. Our brand tracking software tracks various brand KPIs, including brand awareness and consideration, to give you an idea of how your brand is performing with your target audience.

2. Only Runs for a Short Period

Compared to online brand marketing, offline brand marketing campaigns don’t last that long.

If you want your TV or newspaper ad to remain in the public eye — meaning you have to continually republish it — the costs will end up being steep.

Additionally, networking and other event-based marketing don’t last for very long either — once they are over, they’re over.

3. High Costs

As previously mentioned, costs for offline brand marketing can be considerably higher than online.

While there are a lot of free ways to market your brand online, such as using social media, there’s no free lunch in the world of offline advertizing! TV and newspaper advertizing are notoriously expensive and funding one-off events, such as networking evenings, might not bring the returns needed to make the costs worth it.

4. Limited Accessibility

People are always online these days, so they’ll likely be exposed to a lot of brand marketing — some of which they might not even be aware of!

Unfortunately, accessibility to offline brand marketing isn’t so automated. Consumers need to take action to see your ad — whether that’s turning on their TV, opening a newspaper, or attending a networking event.

Plus, there’s no guarantee that they’ll even do any of those things.

Examples of Online Brand Marketing

To give you a better idea of what online brand marketing can look like, here are some examples.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is pretty straightforward — it’s using emails to increase awareness about your brand.

Many marketers encourage consumers to sign up for their brand’s weekly or bi-weekly newsletter. Newsletters are a great tool, as sending them out regularly motivates your subscribers to take action, whether that’s making a purchase or forwarding your email to a friend.

The car-share app Uber is known for its impressive emailing campaign — slick and to the point, there’s no wasted copy and always ends with a clear CTA. The brand also includes links to their blog posts, allowing subscribers to click through to learn more.

However, there are some downsides to sending too many emails. Some recipients might mistake them for spam and may not click on them. So, it's crucial to adhere to best practices and use email templates to maximize your marketing efforts.

Google Display Ads

Google display ads are adverts that Google will place on relevant sites for users to see. Whether you want text, video, or visual ads, just design and upload. Google will then place them on suitable blogs, news publications, and other niche sites.

Display ads are often quite cost-effective, and you can look to various analytical data to measure performance. Additionally, you can rest assured that your ads will be placed on suitable sites, as they’re matched based on the keyword you’ve chosen.

However, you need to make sure your keyword targeting is specific, otherwise, it’s easy for Google to misunderstand and misplace ads.

It’s also easy to be overcharged for these ads, as you may be paying for extra features — some of which might not be necessary for your brand. For example, even if you just want your ads displayed on desktop browsers, you’ll still need to cough up funds for access to mobile metrics.

Webinars

People are always keen to learn new things. If you have knowledge or experience that could be of use to your peers or consumers, then you might want to try out webinars.

Though they may seem like a lot of effort, companies who are doing it right (like HubSpot) can attest that the rewards are worth the time spent.

On HubSpot’s website, you’ll notice a page dedicated to dozens of free webinars. These webinars are high-quality, offering real value — and are subsequently shared around the web, increasing HubSpot’s brand awareness.

While you can use webinars to spread your name around the web, there are a few downsides. Technical problems could hinder a user’s experience, especially if you go for live sessions. Furthermore, planning webinars can be fairly time-consuming. So make sure you have the time and resources to devote before planning one.

YouTube Ads

You can also advertize your brand using YouTube, where ads are played at the beginning of short videos, as well as throughout longer ones.

YouTube is seen as the choice advertizing platform these days and is second only to Google. In 2017, videos on YouTube brought in a staggering $2.59 billion in ad revenue! It’s certainly the place to be seen right now.

Still, there are a few cons to this platform. First, you won’t have much control over where your ads appear, so they might crop up on some inappropriate videos and your target audience might not see them.

Second, lots of YouTube users skip past ads when possible. So, even if they are seen by your target audience, there’s no guarantee they’ll take much notice!

Social Media Marketing

If you are looking for a free form of online brand marketing, then social media is your friend.

While it’s always free to sign up and post content, if you want to make the most of your web presence on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, we strongly recommended you sponsor some posts to increase their reach.

One of the best ways to get ahead of your competitors on social media is to engage as much as possible with consumers. The British bakery Greggs uses Twitter exceptionally well, as they always engage with their followers and tweet content that they know will be reshared.

For Twitter, the retweets and likes don’t always come that easily, and it could take you a while to build a significant following. It’s also a platform that needs regular monitoring so that you can quickly react to criticism or negativity.

SEO

Ideally, you should be able to institute some basic SEO for free or at a low cost. However, if you want to use this avenue to really boost awareness, you’ll need to invest heavily.

Strong SEO can boost your brand’s web presence, meaning your site will be easy to find. This, in turn, should support your brand awareness and identity. Additionally, it can do wonders for your brand’s credibility. The grass isn’t always green in the world of SEO, though, and there are a few disadvantages.

First, it’s a process that takes time, and SEO certainly shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix. Unlike running Google ads, where you can instantly start to track performance, SEO updates take time to make a difference.

Strangely, some start-ups find that their SEO can actually be too good. Their leads increase, but perhaps too much so. Small, newer brands might find such an influx of traffic too much to handle, ending up overwhelmed and unable to process so many sales at once.

Examples of Offline Brand Marketing

Now, let’s take a look at some of the various types of offline brand marketing.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is exactly what it sounds like — a physical piece of mail that targets consumers in their homes.

To succeed with direct mail campaigns, you need to design an eye-catching flyer or brochure to grab consumers’ attention. However, you can always be more creative — in fact, creativity should be actively encouraged! One such example is when Skoda sent out DVDs to all of its consumers.

The main advantage of this type of campaign is that it allows you to target a niche audience directly. You’ll also be able to provide them with more information than you could squeeze into a tweet or Google ad.

However, costs do start to add up quickly. Plus, some recipients might just view your correspondence as junk mail and send it straight into the trash.

Billboards, Train Station Ads, etc.

Large physical ads certainly command the public’s attention and obviously still work well in today’s digital age. Many of the big-name tech firms, including Apple and Netflix, still invest heavily in billboard advertizing.

These types of ads allow you to get a lot of bang for your buck, and many marketers see the high costs an investment. Not only that, but physical ads promote your brand to a much wider audience. It won’t just be your target audience seeing them — meaning you might tap into a new target audience you had not previously considered.

However, this lack of targeted focus can also be a disadvantage. A lot of people will see your ads — some of whom might view them as visual pollution. Plus, these kinds of ads do require a lot of ongoing maintenance if they’re meant to be up for a long time — are you prepared for those extra costs?

Seminars

If you want to add another feather to your B2B marketing cap, you might consider offering seminars.

Hosting a seminar will give you a platform from which you can demonstrate your industry expertise to a captive audience. You could also walk away having made a few handy contacts.

However, seminars aren’t for every company. Some brand marketers find them too time-consuming, so they aren’t ideal for small companies that can’t afford the manpower. Depending on the type of seminar and your chosen venue, they can also be fairly expensive to organize.

TV Ads

When it comes to TV ads, we all have our favorites. Whether it’s something retro, like the famous Coca-Cola ad, or more modern, like Budweiser’s Puppy Love.

Even though streaming services are extremely popular, there are still millions of people around the world glued to regular TV channels. Once again, this method promotes your brand to a captive audience. Plus, you can often choose the time of day your ad runs, meaning you can ensure your ads are shown when you know your target audience is likely watching.

However, with so many TV services that now allow viewers to record their favorite shows and fast-forward past advert breaks, it begs the question: do people take any notice of TV ads?

Keeping this trend in mind, remember that the number of people who actually watch your ad might be considerably lower than expected.

Live Demonstrations

If you attend expos or trade fairs, you might consider providing a live demonstration of your product or service.

For example, brands that make cooking equipment often set up live demonstrations. They often cook something at their local food fair or market, giving consumers a glimpse of their products in action.

This approach also allows you to bring your products directly to customers, allowing you to extoll their virtues and explain to consumers why they need to buy from your brand.

However, live demonstrations can go wrong — accidents, spills, etc. Additionally, you might have to deal with transport and space limitations if your products are especially bulky.

How to Merge Online and Offline Brand Marketing

Both online and offline brand marketing work well on their own. But, if you can successfully merge them, it’s almost like discovering you’ve got a new marketing superpower!

If you plan your campaigns and brand marketing strategies carefully, your digital efforts can help support your offline methods, and vice versa. Here are a few ways to achieve a solid, all-round marketing campaign that combines both.

Boost Offline Promotions with Online Call to Actions

Do you have an upcoming TV or billboard ad launching soon? It might not have been publically released yet, but there’s no reason why you can’t get the public excited about it.

Use your social media channels to drum up some excitement and add in a call to action (CTA), such as “Tune in on Friday at 9 pm!” This way, you may get a few more viewers tuned in to see your ad.

These online CTAs can be used in a similar way to promote seminars, webinars, and events.

Support Offline Brand Marketing with Online Data

Thanks to the internet, there’s an abundance of data available to analyze both online and offline campaigns.

While this data may come from online sources, it can still be used to analyze offline brand advertizing. For instance, you can gain helpful insights by looking at the types of consumers who visit your physical stores or attend your events.

Encourage Online Followers to Help Offline

Social media competitions help build followings online, so why not use them to create content for your offline marketing efforts, too?

Some brands now run competitions online to get followers to submit designs, images, and slogans — all of which can be used in the brand’s next offline campaign.

In addition to getting some great user-generated content, it should also increase the number of people interested in your offline campaign — just in case their entry has been chosen!

How to Determine Which Methods to Use

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the different ways you can market your brand? We understand, there are quite a few options available.

However, make sure you don’t overstretch yourself attempting to use them all. Instead, it’s best to focus on a couple of different methods and make sure you do them well.

Here are a few factors that can help you decide which offline and online brand marketing efforts to go with.

Consider Your Budget

The biggest deciding factor for any brand is likely the budget available.

As a brand manager, you need to look at your budget and figure out what you can afford. When done with a lot of care and attention, even a less expensive marketing option can bring you good returns.

Know Your Target Audience

If your product is aimed at pre-teen boys, then there’s no point in hosting webinars or investing in newspaper ads. Your target audience probably won’t see either of them. Instead, it would be a good idea to try out YouTube and in-app ads.

Take a look at the data to find out where your target audience is and which ads they’re most likely to see. Once identified, you know the smart places to spend your money.

Keep to Your Brand Identity

You also need to consider what would suit your brand identity.

While some types of marketing can boost your brand identity, others might hinder it. If you’re looking to strengthen your overall brand identity, then it will be best to choose more trusted methods of marketing and advertizing.

Final Thoughts

Marketing can be hit and miss at times. What works one week might not work the next. As long as you remain flexible, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

But, until you find the perfect balance of offline and online marketing, be ready to test a few different options. The main takeaway? It’s important to identify what works for you and your brand.

Thankfully, there are a lot of different offline and online methods you can consider. Once you find your perfect offline/online blend, then the sky really will be the limit for your brand marketing!

Brand Marketing

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