In this increasingly digital world, businesses must maintain both an online and offline presence. Rather than being exclusive entities, the two can work together to improve overall performance. In a previous post, we explored how hard copy and digital marketing work better when implemented together. We also asked Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) members about their successes in pairing tactile/hard copy marketing pieces with digital marketing to maximize reach. Here's what they shared.

1. Start the Conversation with Direct Mail

"Our company sends out over 100,000 direct mail pieces per month. We love that direct mail busts through the clutter of an inbox and can become a billboard on your prospect's refrigerator," said Todd Toback, CEO of Get It Done House Buyers. "Direct mail campaigns generate phone calls and an influx of leads. We focus on driving those prospects online to help close deals using YouTube and Facebook retargeting. In our experience, direct mail often starts the conversation, and the internet helps us close it.

"We also spend a significant amount of money on pay-per-click advertising, which are often our most targeted prospects who are ready to buy now. We employ offline marketing methods to close these prospects with follow-up mail and even mobile notaries who go to our prospects' homes to get deals signed," he continued.

"Long story short: we drive offline prospects online and online prospects offline. Multiple touches take credibility through the roof, differentiating you from competitors."

2. Cater to Communication Preferences

It can be a best practice to recognize how various customer cohorts communicate, and adjust your channels accordingly. Gerber, LLC, which offers professional services to first-generation entrepreneurs, utilizes both online and hard copy marketing to effectively cater to their two-tier client segmentation.

"A portion of our audience?startup and emerging entrepreneurs?is technology driven and prefers email outreach. However, we recognize the need to cater to our established entrepreneur clients, who prefer something tangible, such as our quarterly 4x6" event cards," said Elizabeta Damceski, a public relations associate at the company. "Our secret sauce is understanding how our entrepreneurial audience is receiving our information, which we have uncovered through experimentation and solicited feedback.

"Recently, we created a physical, folded promo piece outlining a new class we are offering, and placed it in local coffee shops, since Columbus, Ohio is a booming hub for entrepreneurs. The benefit of pairing the printed piece with similarly timed earned media in local publications and combining those with digital content via social media helped us build interest and successfully reach new prospects," Elizabeta explained. "As an added benefit, the printed cards helped our established clients refer other business owners who would be good candidates. As a result of our multi-tiered marketing efforts, we're now offering a third new class and attendance has doubled!"

3. Market Online to Drive Interest Offline

Some digital agencies consider offline marketing obsolete, and online marketing as the only way to survive a tech-driven future. In reality, offline marketing can never be replaced.

"We utilize a smart mix of both online and offline efforts to drive marketing initiatives," explained Rishi Khanna, founder and CEO of Digital Success, a digital marketing agency. "For example, digital efforts can increase walk-ins at lunch-and-learns, seminars and conferences. Personalized interaction always helps to secure more meetings with prospects, and our presence enhances brand recognition. Plus, we get instant feedback, instant learning, and instant engagement compared to online marketing efforts where you're limited to passive engagement.

"To maximize our visibility, we advertise in relevant local magazines and capitalize on earned media opportunities to spread news about local events. Since these magazines have a trusted readership, we receive the collateral benefit of being perceived as thought leaders.

"Don't be afraid to go out of the box and try billboard advertising, which we've done a few times. Even as a digital agency, we realize that no online marketing tactic can match the audacity of a huge billboard screaming loudly from the roadside. People have shared that they remember our brand from that highway visual. Don't discount such an impactful strategy to gain brand awareness."

4. Leverage Printed Marketing to Improve Online Outcomes

Companies that generate close to 100% of their leads online sometimes find it difficult to grow strong connections with customers. Tactile marketing pieces can bridge the gap.

"We utilize a blended mix of online and offline marketing to get and keep customers," said Russell Lundstrom, founder of Simple Smart Science, a brain health and nutrition supplement company. "A couple of years into business, we noticed return rates were rising into the double-digit range. We found that customers were quitting around the 90-day mark.

"Our solution was to provide an offline experience to build goodwill. Each new customer obtained online receives a hard-copy book that we wrote?its value is about US$20, but the information within could be life-changing if implemented," he continued. "We immediately found that this not only enhanced conversions, it also solidified our reputation with customers in an often spam-filled, online world.

"As an added bonus, we mention?but don't immediately ship?a printed newsletter as part of purchase. As the 90-day mark approaches, we send teasers to build excitement. Just prior to the 90-day anniversary, an email campaign specifically references the upcoming newsletter's critical content. We deliver the newsletter a week after their anniversary date.

"Not only has this print and online marketing mix lowered our return rates to enviable levels, but it has also increased our lifetime customer value, one of our critical KPIs."