Advantages and disadvantages of using offline communications to support ecommerce

Offline communications work since they are effective in achieving four critical things:

• Reach since newspaper, TV and postal communications are used by virtually all consumers;

• Brand awareness through using high-impact visuals;

• Emotional connection with brand again through visuals and sounds;

• Explanation of the online value proposition for a brand.

A further benefit is that for any given objective, integrated marketing communications received through different media are more effective in achieving that objective. We mentioned this cumulative reinforcement effect of integrated marketing communications when referring to the 4 Cs of coherence, consistency, continuity and complementarities earlier in the chapter. Having said this, the disadvantages of using offline communications to encourage online channel usage compared to many online communications tools are obvious. In general the disadvantages of offline communications are:

• Higher cost: Return on investment tends to be higher for online communications such as search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click marketing or affiliate marketing.

• Higher wastage: The well-known expression about 'half my advertising is wasted, but I don't know which half' may be true about offline marketing, but it isn't true online if the right tracking processes are in place.

• Poorer targeting: Targeting by behaviour, location, time, search keyword, site and site content is readily possible online. This tends to be more targeted compared to most offline media (apart from direct marketing).

• Poorer accountability: It is straightforward online to track response - offline it is expensive and error-prone.

• Less detailed information: The detailed information to support a decision can only be cost-effectively delivered online.

• Less personalised: Although direct mail can be personalised, personalisation is more straightforward online.

• Less interactive experience: Most offline communications are one-way - interaction is possible online with the right creative.

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