Wondering how to bring your business’s in-store experience online?
An effective offline-to-online marketing strategy can help you reach an almost infinite customer base -- without having to sacrifice any of your brand values.
However, the transition from in-person to online can be a tricky one to navigate, especially for brick-and-mortar brands.
In the following post, we're sharing the key to successful offline-to-online marketing -- as well as five tried-and-tested strategies you can use to build your community online.
What is Offline-to-online Marketing?
"Offline-to-online marketing" is a term used to describe any activity that drives customers from a brand's physical presence (i.e. brick-and-mortar stores) to digital offerings (i.e a company website, or Instagram account).
When executed properly, offline to online marketing is a seamless experience -- the user journey should be intuitive and in-keeping with a brand's identity, from the visual design to the tone of voice you use.
And the benefits can be tenfold.
By creating both online and offline marketing strategies, brands can offer even more touch points to their customers -- which ultimately drive greater engagement and sales.
With this in mind, here five tactics you can use to successfully transition customers from offline to online:
Host a Virtual Event
Create an At-Home Experience
Go Live with Your Audience
Create a Branded Hashtag
Create an Exclusive Online Membership
#1: Host a Virtual Event
Virtual events have seen a rise in popularity over the last 12 months, with the COVID-19 pandemic prompting brands to find new, creative ways to bring their communities together.
While it’s true that in-person events are a great tool for building community, virtual events can reach a wider audience -- no plane ticket or hotel stay required.
At Later, we host an annual digital conference, LaterCon, which connects and educates attendees on a much larger scale than would be possible with an in-person event.
However, frequent, smaller sized events can be a great tactic for reaching new audiences as well.
For example, Create and Cultivate — a conference once synonymous with in-person events -- shifted their marketing strategy to cater to a digital landscape.
Hosting weekly conversational series on Instagram Live and integrating sponsored events online discussing topics like financing, Create and Cultivate successfully offer valuable content digitally.
#2: Create an At-home Experience
If you have a service-based business, creating an at-home kit for your customers to “DIY” can be another source of revenue for your brand.
For example, if your business is a bar, creating a cocktail kit that’s delivered to your customer’s doorstep is a great way to win over those who prefer an evening at home, but don’t want to miss out on a perfectly crafted cocktail.
Or take Shop Good Co — another great example of a brand bringing an in-store experience to customer’s homes.
The San Diego-based clean beauty company offers an At Home Facial kit for those who can’t indulge in the in-person service. Plus, it makes for a great gift that can be purchased online year round.
With a little creativity in repackaging goods and services, your brand can easily offer the best of both worlds to an even wider range of customers.
#3: Go Live With Your Audience
Instagram Live is a great way to directly connect with your followers and build a stronger bond by answering real-time questions and comments.
Plus, you can easily save your Instagram Live to IGTV once you’re done, making it a valuable piece of content with an even longer shelf life.
Lululemon, the yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, goes beyond just selling workout clothes and uses Instagram Live as an opportunity to give back to their Instagram community with free yoga classes.
And when it comes to going live, Instagram isn’t the only platform to hop on -- brands like e.l.f. Cosmetics have been going live on TikTok, with influencer takeovers hosting makeup challenges and encouraging their followers to join in too.
Ready to go live on TikTok? Check out our How to Go Live on TikTok: A Step-by-step Guide
#4: Create a Branded Hashtag
Hashtags can easily be overlooked, but when it comes to community engagement, they can be your best friend.
By creating a branded hashtag, your customers can connect over a common interest (like your products or services!) while also providing your business with user-generated content!
For example, Aerie has built an inclusive community surrounding their hashtag #aeriereal, which promotes untouched photos of their customers wearing their gear. The hashtag alone has garnered nearly 330,000 posts.
Having a brand-owned hashtag is a surefire way to attract new followers, make sales, and convert your existing audience into customers.
If you’re looking for an easy way to search for hashtags or posts your community has created, check out Later’s UGC tools and features.
#5: Create an Exclusive Online Membership
Online memberships are a fantastic way to make customers feel like VIPs while creating a recurring source of revenue for your brand.
For example, crime comedy podcast My Favorite Murder holds exclusive podcast content and merch for members of their fan club, incentivising fans to pay an annual subscription to get access and connect with other fellow podcast listeners.
DIY Lifestyle brand Brit + Co also offers a monthly membership that gives users unlimited access to all of their creative online courses at once, rather than having to individually purchase and access courses one at a time.
So while many brands are shifting back to in-person events, it’s important not to neglect creating impactful online experiences, too. After all, community building happens on-screen and off.
By marketing your business online and offline, you’ll amass twice your customer’s needs and create a ton of brand awareness -- it's a win-win!
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