How To: Shift Your Offline Advertising to Online Marketing

Offline to Online
No matter the size of your business, it’s no secret that companies are spending more on online marketing as more local consumers look for them online. And if the marketing plan for your small business is still primarily offline, you could be missing out on reaching more local customers.  But, there is good news – you don’t have to start from scratch when developing your online marketing plan. You can transition many types of offline advertising you may be doing now to the Web. Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Yellow Pages to Search Advertising
Yellow pages have traditionally been a popular marketing tactic for local businesses. But, a recent study by Search Engine Land found that 85% of consumers have used the Internet to find a local business. And search engine advertising is an effective way to make sure they find yours. In fact, a recent Google study revealed that paid search advertising significantly boosts site visits, even with a high organic listing. Plus, by taking a few steps to optimize your search advertising campaign, you can get the most out of your search advertising and generate more leads from local customers than from the Yellow Pages alone.
2. Billboards & TV Ads to Display Ads
Offline display advertising can help you share your brand with a large general audience. Using online display advertising allows you to not only build brand awareness with a more targeted audience, but it also helps you measure more effectively. And, marketers are now spending more money on display ads than ever before, with estimated growth of 24.1% from 2011. In other words, if you aren’t targeting consumers through online display advertising, your competition might. If you’re currently investing in offline billboard or television advertising, you might consider transitioning some of your budget to targeted display advertising online.
3. Comment Cards to Online Reviews
Comment cards are a great way for your customers to share their ideas about your small business with you. So are online reviews. Asking satisfied customers to leave reviews about your business online can significantly help build a positive Web presence. When you do, consider developing a reputation management strategy  in order to monitor and manage what others are saying about your business online.
4. Direct Mail to Email
If you currently use traditional forms of direct mail advertising – flyers, print ads, coupon ads, circulars, etc. – then you realize the importance of sharing information about your business to your local consumers. But are you also reaching your potential customers online? According to recent research, marketers are already shifting spend from traditional print advertising to online advertising. Fortunately, you can take much of what you’re already using in print and implement it through email marketing. This can help your small business become more competitive, and make your marketing more efficient. For example, most email marketing platforms track items like click-through rates to evaluate what content performs best. This then allows you to focus more of your advertising dollars on lead generation and measurable online marketing.
5. Offline Coupons to Online Offers
If you promote coupons and special offers offline, there is a large subset of consumers you could target by distributing these coupons online as well. You can promote your offers on your blog, website, or even on your social media pages to boost engagement and build brand awareness. Plus, offering deals on social media as “first come, first serve” is a great way to build excitement around the offer. There are also many sites that can promote your specials, including Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers, AmazonLocal, and Facebook Offers. And with the growth of mobile phone usage, a growing number of consumers now prefer receiving offers on their phones. So the next time you have an offer, consider promoting it online as well.
6. Analog Guestbook to Email Subscription
If your local business has a guestbook or sign-in sheet that you use to collect your customers’ information to mail them advertising material, you can use this tactic online, too. Collect email addresses both online and offline to build a valuable email subscription list, and make sure to notify your customers that by sharing their email address they are opting in to receive communication from your business. Also, if you include SMS marketing in your strategy, make sure to ask users for permission to opt-in when they provide a phone number.
Implementing any of these forms of online marketing can help you build your Web presence and increase brand awareness with your local consumers.  Plus, online marketing tactics can provide insights defining your marketing strategy’s performance, allowing you to determine the most efficient way to spend your time and money.  What types of online marketing are you doing now – and which are you considering?

Tara Banda

Tara Banda is a digital marketer in Dallas, TX and a Content Marketing Manager for ReachLocal. She focuses on helping businesses develop their voice in order to connect and engage with the right audiences. Tara has worked on campaigns and promotions – including social media, email marketing, video, advertising, guerrilla marketing, and event marketing – for both small businesses and globally recognized brands. In her spare time, she likes to cook.

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