Connecting your offline efforts to digital

Customer journeys can be long. They stretch over multiple channels and touchpoints that allow consumers to choose their own adventure. The global adoption of the internet, social media, mobile technologies and digital tools has changed our behavior, expectations and attitudes as consumers. The “try before you buy” mentality is shifting from physical to digital and brands need to be prepared to meet their customers at every step of the way through digital integration.

Brands need to develop a digital channel plan to accompany and complement every marketing initiative. That’s right. Brands must plan for how they’ll meet consumers on their digital journey, serving up answers to their questions, acting as a knowledge resource and creating a seamless path to your brand.
Let’s look at an old, traditional favorite, media relations, and see how and why this tried-and-true tactic must connect to digital.

Supplementing media relations efforts with digital components is a necessary step as B2B and B2C decision makers continue to turn to online channels as resources. In fact, B2B buyers are researching your products/services online, and typically are 57 percent of the way to a buying decision before actively engaging with sales. (CEB Global).

So what happens beyond the media placement?

Before a media placement has been secured, brands must think through what we want audiences to do upon seeing the placement, where we want to send them to and how we can continue to engage and nurture those relationships beyond the media placement. Here are four key digital areas brands can use to maximize exposure:

1. Website. This seems like a no-brainer but it’s often an afterthought. It’s easy to add your company URL to the end of a release and encourage audiences to “visit your site for more details” but is that enticing enough to push consumers to the next stop on their journey? Probably not. Instead, give your audiences a reason to take the next step of their journey towards your brand. Tease out results from a study or promote specific content that is relevant to their needs and push them to your site to access the rest of your content. Stay away from driving them to your homepage and direct them to a landing page created to pay off the message from your media relations efforts. This will also help you track the impact of your program. 

The next time you draft a media release, think about the following:

-Where will your media relations efforts direct people to on your website?
-What is the connected story you are telling there?
-How are you measuring impact?
2. Social and Email. Social and email are great channels to promote your coverage and reach additional audiences. Rather than sharing a link to tout a placement you earned, share coverage to promote credibility and use to spark further interest in your brand. For example, share a post promoting the topic of your coverage, why it’s of benefit to your followers and direct them to read the rest of the article. 

The next time you earn coverage and want to share with followers, think about the following:

-How is our message supported in social?
-What channels can we use to push our message?
-How are we measuring impact?
Five LinkedIn strategies for B2B brands
3. Thought Leadership Amplification. Subject matter experts are often quoted in releases but what happens beyond the quote? If your audience looks them up online, what results will appear? Are their LinkedIn profiles and online bios up to date and reflecting their expertise? What is the plan for your SMEs to share media coverage across their personal LinkedIn channel?
The next time you quote an SME in a media release, think about the following:
-How are those who are quoted in your releases representing themselves online/through social?
-What is the plan for your SMEs to continue to push your message?
-How will you measure impact? (post engagements, meeting request, speaking engagements requests, etc.) 

4. Search.  Paid Search should be used to complement media relations efforts especially when print is involved. Audiences will be exposed to your placement and not always have the opportunity to move to the next journey phase in that moment. When they come online later to conduct their research brands must make sure audiences can find them during this stage of the journey.
The next time you prepare a media relations effort, think about the following:

-What searches will we trigger as a result of our media relations efforts?
-What does our search footprint look like today and how will it be impacted by our media relations efforts?
-Where do we want our searches to link to?
-How are we measuring impact?
Don’t fall short on creating a digital channel plan to complement your offline efforts. Consumers are jumping from channel to channel, offline to online, desktop to mobile and brands need to be there every step of the way. In many cases, the disciplines for these efforts fall to different team members who aren’t connected and thinking through the complete consumer journey. Let us help.

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