The balance between online and offline
12 Feb 2018
The choice between online and offline communication can be confusing, but the simple fact is there is not one channel that should be used exclusively to engage your customers. Choosing the right channel at the right time is critical to customer engagement.
Online marketing techniques are now so accessible and affordable that people are becoming overloaded by online advertising communications, and in turn this results in diminishing attention spans and reduced engagement.
Research points to Direct Mail being the alternative to saturated online communications channels, with recent Royal Mail stats highlighting that 92% of Direct Mail is opened.
However, customers are not tied to one communication channel and will move between offline and online channels frequently, and how they engage with that communication will depend on the content, timing and call to action within it.
Timing is so important. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) recently conducted research which discovered that their busiest branch isn’t a branch at all – it’s the 7.15am train to Paddington, when commuters open their online banking app to make the best use of their time. Businesses can now use Artificial Intelligence within their channels to help with this, using email deployment tools which monitor when individuals are opening and engaging with emails to predict and automatically send future messages around that time of day and increase the chance of that email being seen and opened.
Businesses also need to ensure they are compliant with the incoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) by securing the correct permissions and preferences from their customers.
When considering the right channel mix, keep in mind that Direct Mail still plays a key role in your communication strategy, especially if you are mobile first. A typical piece of printed Direct Mail remains on view in the household for an average of 17 days, as opposed to a digital communication being viewed once, if opened at all, making this method of approach still an important part of your communication mix. Receiving a personalised, relevant communication that they can open and touch can have greater impact with a customer.
With NFC (Near Field Communications) and QR codes, you can seamlessly take your customer from an offline printed pack to a mobile optimised landing page in a matter of seconds. It’s this kind of innovation that can help to engage customers who historically have been hard to reach.
Businesses need to deliver a consistently slick customer journey that adapts to customer preferences and their actions. It is therefore more important than ever that businesses engage their customers with relevant, timely messages and content, delivered through the right channel for the type of message.
 Royal Mail Study – How to build a business case for direct mail
2Royal Mail Study – The Private Life of Mail