A digital presence is vital for any business or nonprofit to survive in 2017. 87% of Americans use the internet. In November of 2016, digital ad spend was already $16 billion, and 76% of retail marketers surveyed by RetailMeNot said Digital has a better ROI than Offline.
But according to Adweek’s Gemma Milne, “brands should use digital channels to facilitate actual human interaction, and build trust away from the volatility of the web…” In fact, the term “echo chamber” is cropping up to describe the self-affirming qualities of social media’s content algorithms. The journal Science published a research paper in 2015 reflecting how Facebook users, who self-identified with a political party, are more likely to have corresponding political content appear in their feeds. An offline presence can help personalize your brand, and even build awareness with a new audience.
What’s more is that 13% of Americans aren’t online, according to a 2016 Pew Research report. For businesses and nonprofits targeting individuals 65 and up, adults with a high school degree or less, and rural residents, a strong offline presence is worth considering. The barriers and attitudes of non-internet users range from cost to the perception that the internet does not personally impact them. Businesses should pay attention to these communities because they can possess strong brand loyalty, and nonprofits should pay attention because they are often in the greatest need of help.\
To reach people offline requires quality, consistency, and good strategy. A strong offline presence is an opportunity to distinguish a brand from the competition and create a connection with clients, but the experience should be positive. Content and creative should only ever affirm a brand’s reputation, not tarnish it. Be careful to avoid gimmicks and produce only what aligns with your core message; consistency is crucial. But quality content and consistent messaging are nothing if they aren’t delivered to the right people at the right time. Research your audience and your competitors, and brainstorm when, where and how to reach your target, and differentiate yourself from competitors.