Integrating online and offline marketing at the point of purchase
How to use POS advertising to support online engagement
What is cross-channel marketing?
Cross-channel marketing refers to the ways in which you can engage your customer across multiple channels in a seamlessly integrated way. You may already have a multi-channel marketing strategy, which will involve interacting with your customers in various ways, such as with in-person customer service, in-store signage, via your website, or on social media. Adapting this into a cross-channel marketing strategy, however, involves creating a smooth and synergistic transition between these channels. Cross-channel marketing ensures that your different advertising platforms work together, rather than separately, to provide consumers with a cohesive, comprehensive and convenient customer experience.
Examples of cross-channel marketing:
- Promotional text messages that link to web pages.
- Use of QR codes in-store that link to relevant online shopping pages and/or more detailed product information.
- Email or SMS marketing that provides a phone number or link and encourages consumers to call and speak to a customer service team member.
- Printed signage in hospitality venues, such as restaurants or salons, that encourages customers to share pictures of their meal or haircut on social media.
"[F]irms that better coordinate their multiple channels may improve consumers’ trust, increase their loyalty, boost their conversion rate, and create greater opportunities to cross-sell. As a result, a higher level of cross-channel integration may lead to firms experiencing higher sales growth"- Li and Cao (2015) .
Why do I need to utilise cross channel marketing at the point of purchase?
Ensuring that your business communicates and functions cohesively across channels will allow your customers to engage in the way that works for them, rather than being forced into a certain type of brand engagement, which could be off-putting.
A cross-channel strategy recognises your customers' individual needs and provides them with more flexibility. This results in the public having a more pleasant experience with your brand.
This idea is confirmed by a research paper on integrated multichannel retail, in which the authors note that 'the distinctive channels should complement each other to increase the possibility that consumers may easily find the most relevant one for their needs' .
The combination of promoting both online services at your POS and promoting your bricks-and-mortar stores online should result in greater customer engagement. Greater customer engagement tends to lead to you having more repeat customers, and higher sales figures.
The point of combining online and offline marketing strategies is to encourage interaction, which increases involvement. Even if a customer doesn't have time to stop now, they may be interested enough to find you on a social media platform. Or, if they have a great experience, the easy availability of social links will make them more likely to leave a good review, or tag you in a positive post.
Combine your marketing strategies to increase customer engagement and involvement
In the book Pervasive Advertising, J. Müller and colleagues point out that the level of involvement the customer has with a purchase and the strength of their relationship with the brand, product or service will affect sales figures. They argue that "involvement is critical to advertising because it can significantly impact the purchase decision process" .
Therefore, a strong cross-channel marketing strategy should aim to encourage maximum customer engagement with the brand both online and offline, in order to strengthen the customer's involvement and, ultimately, increase sales.
Your point of sale advertising and displays act as customer touchpoints along their journey. Be sure to include a call-to-action at these touchpoints which encourages them to interact across channels, such as asking them to interact with social media, to scan a QR code to get more information, or to fill out a review or survey.
Ensure your social media links and website details are printed on all the posters that you display, whether on pavement signs, snap frame posters or in your window displays.
Create a sense of community via comprehensive communication with customers across channels - communicate online, on digital signs, paper posters, and brochures and flyers. Social media sites are a hotspot for online community-building, so advertise these clearly at your POS. Many passersby won't have time to stop and enter your premises the first time around. If, however, your social media and website are clearly advertised and easily accessible, they can type in your name or follow a QR code link in order to find out more information.
This is a great way for restaurants to entice customers; if an interested customer finds your social media feeds and website alike are filled with gorgeous images and mouthwatering meal descriptions, then they are going to be much more likely to want to interact with your page and make a booking. The same is true for fashion stores. Passing customers may have a shopping goal already in mind, and won't have time to stop and browse through the rails when they see an attractive outfit.
If your retail displays and signage make it easy for consumers to follow up online, however, they can quickly connect to whichever resource you want, and then save all the information to their mobile device.
It stands to reason that a customer who has a number of favourite looks, meals or products saved to their phone, will be reminded of the sense of desire they felt for that item, and will be more likely to return and actually make a purchase through one of their preferred channels.
Consider displaying social media comments and reviews on digital posters
Showing positive comments and reviews from social media on your digital POS displays could help to increase customer trust in your brand and lift sales.
Social media comments are the new word-of-mouth advertising, and researchers suggest that it could be beneficial to display these on your signage, stating that they 'provide the consumer with an impression of innovation for the product or the brand in question, as well as for the retailers themselves' .
Seeing that other consumers have had positive social media engagement with a brand, product, service or venue, is reassuring to new customers and adds a certain 'coolness' factor. Additionally, the data found that 'displaying product-specific social network comments are more effective than showing general brand-related comments' (Spiegler (2011), p.223), so you may wish to pick comments to display that mention specifics of a product or service.
'[A] carefully designed mixture of traditional advertising and social network comments would maximise the benefits of both advertising and social networks’ ability to generate word-of-mouth'- Spiegler et al (2011), p.224.
When displaying social media comments on digital signs at your point of sale, bear in mind that the above study also found that long form comments induce a high cognitive load, so will not be taken in as much in fast-paced environments (Spiegler et al, p.223). Therefore, you will want to consider carefully where you will display the screens, and which comments to display. We recommend that you use these kind of displays in areas that people will be waiting and have time to take in the text, such as behind bars and by tables in restaurants, in queues and around changing rooms. Pick short and to-the point comments, which heap praise on your products and services too!
Advertising online services in-store increases customer satisfaction
Using digital posters to display your cross-channel advertising can have additional benefits to customer enthusiasm and engagement, beyond an extra opportunity to advertise products and services.
Integrating digital technology into bricks-and-mortar stores has been shown to 'reduce the boundaries between classical in-store atmospherics and e-atmospherics' and 'increase the level of satisfaction and the positive patronage and recommendation intentions' .
In short, this means that studies have demonstrated how customers respond more positively to shops which blend their online and offline marketing strategies
Using interactive digital screens is a great way to connect your online and offline marketing efforts at the point of sale, with many prospective uses for the technology. One potential use is to allow customers to check stock levels and find product recommendations in-store on touchscreens, providing a synergistic relationship between your online and offline brand presence. Another simple and effective way to do this is with the use of QR codes, which can be easily printed onto posters, banners and signs.
What is a QR code?
QR stands for 'quick response', and refers to the way that these printed codes can be used to provide a user with information or services almost instantly. More than just a transient marketing tactic, QR codes can actually add a lot of value and convenience for both the customer and the business that uses them.
During the easing of lockdown measures following the 2020 pandemic, QR codes became of huge importance to many restaurants, due to the way that they can allow visitors to order food and drinks, discover additional information about the meals and ingredients, and pay for their meal, all with minimal contact. While they have been in use for many years now, this is probably the environment in which many of us first became more familiar with QR code marketing and how it works. However, the potential uses of QR codes go much further than those simple applications.
Ideas for using QR codes in business:
- Provide more detailed product information than can be displayed in-store.
- Provide directions to find a product or store.
- Link to an online survey and/or competition.
- Allow customers to pay ahead of time and skip queues.
- Take them directly to a wish list or look book, making it easy for them to build a list of products or services they would like from you.
- Show them products which are recommended for use with another.
How to create a QR code
Creating a QR code couldn't be easier, as there are many free QR code generators available for use on the internet. To use these, you simply need to provide the generator site with the URL that you wish the code to direct to.
Do always check, however, that the code works and scans correctly before investing in a large print run of these.
How to print a QR code
Once the QR code has been created by a generator, it can begin to be used straight away using even a home printer, you don't need any specialist equipment for this.
If you get your business signage printed by us here at UK POS, you just need to include the QR code on your print design template, and we can produce these for you in high-quality print.
If you're able, investing in the creation of 'smart content' can be incredibly profitable. Smart content adapts what is shown to customers based on their behaviour. For example, if a supermarket customer tends to only purchase vegetarian food, this can be flagged digitally in order to ensure they see marketing content designed for vegetarian and vegan food.
Gathering feedback is important for all businesses to assess whether their strategies are working.
Encourage your customers to fill in surveys or provide feedback both online and in store, and compare the results to ensure you're providing a consistent quality of service across the various mediums.
Incentivise participation by giving them entry into a competition, or a discount, in exchange for their feedback.
Providing touchpoints for digital interaction shouldn't result in a reduction of your in-person services, but simply work with them and enhance them.
Ensure that you are adding value for your customers wherever possible. Also, it's important to make this interaction both convenient and appealing.
A recent study found that businesses must make additional interventions in order to motivate customers to interact with these touchpoints, as consumers will only access the information 'as long as doing so is quick and convenient'; quick, convenient access can 'greatly increase the likelihood that they will access it' .
For further reading into combining your online and offline marketing strategies, check out our guide on How to Create Digital Signage Content.
1. Cao and Li, 'The Impact of Cross-Channel Integration on Retailers’ Sales Growth', Journal of Retailing, Vol. 91, pp. 198-216 (2015).
2. Pantano and Viassone, 'Engaging consumers on new integrated multichannel retail settings: Challenges for retailers', Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Volume 25, pp. 106-114 (2015).
3. Müller, Alt and Michelis, 'Pervasive Advertising', in Pervasive Advertising, ed. by Jorge Müller, Florian Alt and Daniel Michelis (London: Springer Science & Business Media, 2011), pp. 1-29 (p. 5).
4. Spiegler, Michahelles and Hildebrand, 'Social Networks in Pervasive Advertising and Shopping', in Pervasive Advertising, ed. by Jorge Müller, Florian Alt and Daniel Michelis (London: Springer Science & Business Media, 2011), pp. 207-205.
5. Poncin and Mimoun, 'The impact of 'e-atmospherics' on physical stores', Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Volume 25, pp. 851-859 (2014).
6. Li and Messer, 'To Scan or Not To Scan: The Question of Consumer Behavior and QR Codes on Food Packages', Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol. 44(2), pp. 311-327 (2019).