Online to offline: A seamless approach to customer marketing

Once upon a time, if I wanted to buy a new pair of jeans, I got in my car, drove to the mall, went into a store, and tried a few pairs of jeans on for size. 

Maybe I went to a second or third store and tried on more, but it was likely that on a singular trip to the mall, I picked a pair, purchased them, and that was that.

Today, I may research different styles of jeans online, browse a few websites from my laptop, sign up for an email and/or SMS list to get a coupon, possibly go to the store to try some jeans on, and then finally buy the jeans on my phone while watching Netflix in the background. 

I’m no different than most of your customers. The data shows that omnichannel experiences are more important than ever. In fact, in response to PwC’s February 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, 81% of consumers reported shopping across at least three channels over the last six months.

The experience you give your customers needs to be a consistent one, whether they’re in one of your brick-and-mortar locations or shopping on their phone from their couch.

It’s a (customer) journey

Marketing’s classic rule of seven tells us that it takes an average of seven interactions with your brand before a purchase will take place.

Those seven touches are all a part of that customer’s journey and may include a visit to your store (an in-person experience) or subtle digital nudges or reminders via email, paid advertisements, SMS, or push notifications that remind them they’re important to you. 

Follow any handful of customer journeys, and one thing will become clear: customers want options. While some of your customers prefer to shop in person, others prefer to shop online. Still others might like a mix. 

So, how can you incorporate both in-person and digital experiences in your marketing strategy? Read on for some tips.

Integrate and distinguish online and offline promotions

One way to bring in-person and digital experiences together is by integrating online and offline promotions. 

For example, you could offer a discount code that customers can use in your physical store, but they can only obtain the code by following your social media account or subscribing to your email list. A department store could offer complimentary gift wrapping or a barista serving coffee to customers while they browse—experiences that are not available online.

These strategies not only encourage customers to visit your store but also help you grow your digital following. In the example below McDonald’s is encouraging customers to visit the drive-thru and use the fast food restaurant’s app by offering a promo code for free fries.


Example McDonald's email encourages customers with online to offline marketing strategies. The email offers a coupon code for free fries when they come through the drive thru.
Source: Really Good Emails

Let them know you’re in the neighborhood

Use your users’ location data to trigger timely notifications about a special offer or promotion when they’re within a specified distance from your physical store.

Push notifications can be the shining star in your marketing toolkit when it comes to location-based promotions. Push notifications can be especially engaging when they’re personalized, relevant, and timely— a trifecta you can easily achieve when communicating with a customer based on their physical location.

Starbucks uses personalized push notifications to drive traffic to its stores and build emotional connections with customers. Users who enter a geofence close to a Starbucks cafe receive a promotional offer tailored to their preferences and past order history.

In this example, the coffeehouse chain offers the user a discount on the drink they usually order.

Examples of personalization in marketing via a push notification sent to alert customers from a mobile app with localized content.

Create immersive experiences

Immersive experiences can be both in-person and digital. For example, you could create an interactive display in your physical store that customers can interact with using their mobile devices. 

Or you could create a virtual reality experience that customers can access through your website. Immersive experiences create a sense of excitement and engagement that can be hard to achieve through traditional marketing methods.

Nike’s Rise Seoul store is a great example of an immersive experience, featuring personalized, data-driven features that include a three-story screen that displays real-time running stats from the local community, as well as an interactive RFID-powered table where shoppers can test two different shoes and get information about them before they make a purchase.

Meanwhile Nike’s “Live” and “House of Innovation” concepts also focus on offering curated products to shoppers based on where they live, making it easy to use the Nike app to buy and pick up products inside the store.

Personalize your marketing messages

Personalization is key to creating a great customer experience, whether it’s in-person or digital. Use customer data to create personalized marketing messages that resonate with your audience. For example, if a customer has previously purchased a certain product, you could send them a personalized email with related products they might be interested in.

One of our most valued partners, Movable Ink, helps thousands of brands use render-on-open technology to make their emails reflect the most up-to-date data whenever they’re opened. 

With MessageGears, direct data access allows Movable Ink to send unlimited API calls and update emails at open based upon any point you want to use. That way, prices, inventory, featured items, hours, menus, drink specials, and any other data point is live and up to the second every time a customer opens your message. This delivers a better customer experience and helps to build loyalty with your products in the future.

The store can be a resource

Click-and-collect options are a great way to bridge the gap between in-person and digital experiences. Customers can browse your products online, but instead of having them shipped to their home, they can pick them up in your physical store. 

This option provides customers with the convenience of online shopping while still giving them the option to visit your store – saving them on shipping costs while also bringing them to you.

Another popular way to blur the lines between online and offline is the “back in stock” alert similar to the one from Sonos below. Your brand may want to offer a quick store-to-store shipment and get an out of stock item for a customer within a day or two.

Back in stock email example
Source: Really Good Emails

Customers can also sign up for email or SMS alerts for whenever that item is back in stock at your store. Typically this message will be one of the most-clicked emails you send — and it’ll have a very high ROI. 

Use data to inform your strategy

Whatever tactics your brand uses, data should always inform your marketing strategy. Track customer behavior both online and in person to understand how customers interact with your brand. Use this data to optimize your marketing messages and improve the customer experience.

Incorporating both in-person and digital experiences in your marketing strategy can be a powerful way to provide a comprehensive customer experience and cater to a wider audience. 

By connecting to the source of your data (whether that is Snowflake, Big Query, Redshift, Azure, you name it…) you’ll have a more complete view of the customer’s lifecycle. 

All the information you need on behaviors like purchases, returns, customer support conversations, and more specific customer demographics will be in one place so that your team can access and leverage it for a highly informed conversation every time.

Keep being you

Above all, no matter where, when or how you’re talking with customers, consistency across channels is key. 

Customers should always feel like your brand has their back, no matter where or how they’re engaging with you.


About the Author

Elsbeth Russell

Elsbeth has nearly two decades of experience helping brands attract and engage audiences through content. For the past six years, she’s been dedicated to helping B2B companies in the email marketing space connect with audiences through community building and social media marketing.