Online to offline marketing (or O2O) is the practice of drawing consumers from online marketing channels to physical store (or brick-and-mortar) locations. And hopefully get them to buy products or services.
But let’s go through the whole process in chronological order.
Initially, consumers get identified on an online platform. This platform, as well as the identification method, can take a variety of forms.
One example is Social Media Marketing on Facebook that allows lookalike audiences to be identified. Another example could be through email marketing.
Once identified, customers get targeted, and finally, enticed to leave the online platform in favor of going to the physical, brick-and-mortar store.
This can be done through a variety of methods such as promoting special offers than can only be redeemed in store. For that reason, the process has also been coined click-and-mortar.
Why bother with click-and-mortar?
The everyday consumer in our society can be broken down into three blocks:
Curious: Most consumers are research obsessed (something I can definitely relate to…). 59% of consumers conduct independent research before they buy a product.
Demanding: Consumers don’t want random ads thrown at them, they want to see things they are actually interested in, things that are personalized to them.
Impatient: We want our shopping experiences to be as fast and frictionless as possible. Basically Amazon One-Click in a nutshell.
According to Google’s Statistics, around 85% of retail sales still occur in store. This doesn’t mean that online stores are in decline or not as important, however.
The online store a business can also act as a resource for consumers to get information about the product, whereas the physical store serves as a ‘showroom’ (which serves the exact purpose the name suggests).
Online and Offline stores should not be seen as separate parties that compete with each other, but rather they should work together.
A consumer might choose to research a product online before going to the store and buying it or may choose to go to a store first to touch and visualize the product before making a decision later, online.
Alternatively, purely e-commerce focused businesses might consider adding a storefront that is dedicated as a showroom where customers can place orders directly from the store. The fashion brand Bonobos is a good example for this.
In an O2O strategy that focuses on local marketing, both components need to form a symbiosis to entice the consumer.
Maintaining an Omni-channel presence is therefore very important when engaging in O2O. More on that later.
What is effective in O2O marketing?
As mentioned, enticing customers to leave the online space in favor of getting them to pay you a visit, sounds simple enough right?
But how do you actually get people to come to you? People love being online after all.
O2O can be, in some ways, categorized as a “pull” strategy (you’re trying to pull people towards you), and therefore it comes with some of the traditional principles e.g. marketing on social media. Pull strategies focus on generating demand and brand awareness.
However just generating brand awareness isn’t always enough, especially if you are operating on a very local level. Ideally, customers should go from ‘clicks to bricks’.
In this instance having those lovely Call-to-Action buttons in your ads can be very effective. Best practice is usually to include a button that gives the customer directions and generate ‘drive to store’, rather than linking to a store finder section on the brand website.
(Note: drive to store is a specific objective in Facebook campaigns., but the concept can be applied to other platforms.)
This can be especially important for businesses that do not actually have their own e-commerce website since they rely on their retail sales. A good example for this is Primark.
Customer Relationship Management
Additionally, Customer Relationship management is also a key principle when it comes to pull strategies in general, but especially in O2O marketing.
Online Reviews are increasingly important to consumers that research your products. These include the Google My Business reviews as well as the Google Maps reviews.
In fact, Google reviews can be more relevant to consumers than dedicated review websites such as Yelp (although this can depend on the platform: Amazon’s Alexa, for instance, uses Yelp as a sort of database when looking for reviews).
Therefore, it is very important to streamline your online marketing strategy with your individual brick-and-mortar stores.
This means making sure your location is correct on Google Maps, the pictures are not only nice to look at but also relevant and taking in customer reviews (including the complaints) in a constructive manner and responding appropriately.
When tackling your advertisement campaign, is when O2O marketing diverges from traditional pull marketing. Taking advantage of the various ad types google offers, means you can target specific audiences instead of advertising broadly.
Arguably the most important feature I already mentioned: Driving customers to a physical store with a call to action button on an ad. An effective way to do this is via social media platforms such as Facebook where consumers are on-the-go.
Bottega Veneta drive to store campaign
Some novel approaches include the local inventory ad and the local storefront ad.
Both of these essentially let consumers see whether a store has the product that they want in stock.
Not only that but it also works with geotagging so it will show the closest store that currently stocks the product.
local inventory and storefront
Local marketing is a branch that can utilize geotagging very effectively.
This has to do with the three building blocks I mentioned earlier. Consumers are curious, demanding, and impatient.
For example, if a consumer wants to go for Pizza, chances are he/she will open google and search for something along the lines of “Italian restaurants near me”.
Local businesses can optimize their campaigns to bid keywords like this as well as restrict it to a parameter, making campaigns a lot more cost effective as well as actually less competitive.
I mentioned Omni-channel presence earlier. The core concept behind this is realizing and embracing that your customers don’t shop by channel. I know, it would make things a lot easier if they did, but humans are complex creatures!
There are a number of more technical approaches you can take to make your O2O marketing more effective. Assuming that you use Google that is.
There are three types of reporting that Google can provide you with, which you can use to measure how effective your O2O marketing is:
Store reporting: You can use information from your Google AdWords campaign (the “Google clicks” from your ads to your website) to the footfall number of store visits as well as store sales. Google can extrapolate projections using one of their fancy algorithms, that use this information to give you a projection of how effective an AdWords campaign was. This can let you evaluate your marketing efforts more effectively, optimize them for consumers and hopefully, in turn, get more customers. The good thing about this is, that the algorithm Google uses, is tailored specifically to each separate AdWords campaign.
Store sales: This effectively connects the CTR of your ads to the in-store transactions. This information can then be used to remarket yourself with existing customers or with potential customers that Google recognizes as having visited your website.
Finally, there is also Google Analytics CRM integration. Integrating the Google Analytics Data Protocol (or the Measurement Protocol) allows for a more accurate ROI reporting. Google can tell you the finer details of how to do this. Combined with Store reporting, this can give you a much clearer picture of how successful your O2O strategy was, i.e. give you information on which keywords generated more drive to store (an ROI on keywords).
Overall this should give you a much better ROI reporting as well as give you an Omni-channel profile of your customers.