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Driving online sales through offline marketing - a lesson from Google

Last week we received a direct mailer in the post from – of all people – Google. It was the third time they’d written to us in the space of six months. The mailer consisted of a glossy and substantial gate-fold with the headline ‘Boost your Adwords profits in under an hour a week’. But why send it? Surely if anyone is in a position to profitably shun direct marketing, it would have to be Google, or so you would think. Not only do they dominate the search engines, they actually own the means of dissemination – it doesn’t cost them a penny to position their own marketing messages at the top of every Google search on the web. And, besides, why didn’t they just send an email?  They have our details. Why send a relatively expensive mailer?

Because direct marketing works...

As you would expect, the marketing boffins at Google have done their research - sending their Adwords customers a piece of hard copy information in the post acts as a tangible complement to their online marketing efforts.   This is something that people are able to keep, put in their in-trays, read during a coffee break, pass around the office and, most importantly, act upon.             

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, more and more web-focused businesses are integrating both digital and direct to communicate with their customers and prospects.  For evidence of this shift, just take a moment each day to monitor what turns up in your mail box.  All of which puts paid to the myth that offline marketing is on the decline, when the fact is it has never been healthier.        

Nor is direct marketing a static discipline.  Breakthroughs in data processing and print technology have enabled direct mail to move away from broad-based mass mailings to smaller niche targeted campaigns, with highly personalised content – reflecting in its own way the one-to-one intimacy of the social and business networks.      

Importantly, targeting prospects by promoting your URL offline is proven to be a highly effective means of driving traffic directly to your website.  An additional advantage of this approach is that there is far less chance of your prospects being distracted along the way by search results from competitor advertisers – not to mention reduced overheads on pay-per-click bidding and SEO wars.   

While digital marketing is indisputably a powerful and essential element of the mix, it will never be a substitute for direct marketing, but it is a worthy partner.  Just ask Google.