For small businesses, marketing is key to growth. If people don’t know who you are, understand what you do, or recognise what sets you apart, you will find it virtually impossible to generate sales.
Marketing is an investment no business can afford to ignore, but deciding how much to spend, and which channels to focus on, can be a real challenge.
Some businesses choose to stick with traditional tactics, some put all their budget into digital, and many do a bit of both, running SEO alongside a direct mail campaign, for example.
But all-too-often, there is a lack of cohesion; there are significant commercial benefits for businesses that successfully integrate print and online marketing, but too many are missing these opportunities completely.
Whether you’re a retailer selling to consumers or a B2B service provider looking for new clients, your audience will most likely find out about what you do via more than one medium, and these multiple encounters will add up to create a complete picture.
Utilising a range of marketing channels will allow you to reach each prospect in a way that resonates with them, and potentially put your messages in front of them at multiple stages in the buying cycle.
Still not convinced that integration is worth the effort?
There’s more to integrating your print and online marketing than simply putting your website URL on your business cards and mailshots. Let’s take a look at some of the key principles and practices that you can employ to get a better return on your investment.
Consistent Branding and Messaging
All marketing activity should start with a clear, well-defined brand. Your brand should be an expression of the values and ethos that make your business you unique, and it should have a clear visual identity, along with properly planned, conversion-focused messaging that remains consistent across all channels. Don’t cut corners when it comes to graphic design or copywriting – it’s vital that you have strong foundations in place in order to get the most out of your marketing budget moving forward.
Custom Landing Pages
If you’ve just created a great looking brochure to promote an exciting new product your company has developed, then simply sticking your homepage URL at the bottom of every page is a wasted opportunity. Why not create a custom landing page on your site specifically for use with this promotion – this will allow you to reinforce and develop the messaging your prospects have already seen, and to direct them towards making a purchase or an enquiry with a compelling call to action.
You could even go one step further and use personalised URLs (PURLs) to complement the highly personalised direct mail campaigns that are now possible with digital printing services. That means that you can address prospects by name throughout a piece of printed literature, and then direct them to a unique URL (e.g. YourBusinessDomain.com/Jack-Miller or YourBusinessDomain.com/Wendy-Reece). You could even have a contact form pre-populated with their details when they land on your website, minimising barriers to conversion.
Combing Direct Mail and Email
As well as integrating your website content with any direct mail activity, it’s also worth thinking about using email marketing together with direct mail as part of a single, integrated campaign. Sending an email that lets someone know they’ll be receiving something in the post, then sending another email to follow up after the printed mail has been received, can help to maximise the impact of your message and create a stronger relationship.
Facebook might not be a great marketing platform for every business, but if you operate in an industry that lends itself to social media, and you are actively sharing content and engaging with people online, then make sure you use your printed content to steer people to your most active profiles.
In order to do that, make sure you actually include the URLs for your social profiles – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a piece of print decorated with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn logos but no mention whatsoever of the URLs that will take you to the relevant pages! It’s fine to use the logos on their own on your website, where users can click straight through, but a little more information goes a long way on your printed marketing materials. If your Facebook URL is long and messy, and you’re not sure how to customise it, check out Facebook’s help section on Usernames and page URLs. You can also use URL shorteners like bit.ly or goo.gl to make it easier for people to find your other social profiles.
Tracking and Reporting on ROI
Businesses love the fact that they can find out exactly what they’ve got back for every £1 spent on SEO or PPC, but often assume that they can’t really measure the success of their print marketing.
Integration, however, allows you to track the visits, enquiries and sales generated by print, and calculate the return on investment.
By creating custom landing pages, as outlined above, and implementing goal tracking properly using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to monitor and report on traffic and conversions driven by print. This won’t be completely definitive, as many people will end up entering your site via a brand search rather than directly using your custom URL, but it will give you far better visibility over how your print marketing is performing.
Research, Develop and Improve
The data gathered through your online activity is an invaluable resource that can be mined to make all your marketing more effective. Never underestimate the value of this data and the insights it can yield.
Use keyword data from Analytics to fine-tune your messaging and make sure you’re communicating with people using language they recognise.
Look at your top converting pages and see if there’s anything you can replicate in your printed materials, such as layout, images and calls to action.
Identify your most popular products and services and make sure your print marketing shows them off. You could also use print and press campaigns to build awareness of products that aren’t performing as well as they should be.
Get a grip on seasonal trends and time your print campaigns to capitalise on these busy periods with tailored, current and persuasive messaging.
Finally, use your Analytics data to determine what is and isn’t working in direct mail campaigns, and action these insights to make incremental, evidence-based improvements as you move forward.
Have you had experience of integrating print and online marketing? We’d love to hear about it – just leave us a comment below…
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