Online Marketing Vs. Offline Marketing: What You Need to Know

If you’re a senior living marketer, one of your jobs is to create an effective marketing strategy for your community. This will involve a combination of online and offline marketing tactics. But what exactly is online marketing vs. offline marketing? Below, we provide an overview of both, including how they differ and what you need to keep in mind when incorporating them into your strategy.

What is online marketing?

Commonly called digital marketing, online marketing—as its name suggests—is marketing that happens via web-based channels like a community’s website, electronic newsletter, social media platforms, and digital advertising.

Some people use the phrases “online marketing” and “inbound marketing” interchangeably. Technically, this isn’t correct. While all inbound marketing is online marketing, not all online marketing is inbound. The key component of inbound marketing is you’re attracting people who are already looking for whatever it is that you’re selling. So if they search on a keyword phrase and your site comes up in the organic search listing and the person clicks on it—that’s an example of inbound marketing at work.

But if you run digital ads through the Google Display Network, not everyone who sees those ads will be on the market for a senior living community. Even though the advertising is happening online, this is still an example of outbound marketing. With outbound marketing, you’re pushing out your message to a wide audience. With inbound marketing, you’re pulling in people who are already interested.

What is offline marketing?

As its name suggests, offline marketing doesn’t happen via web-based channels. Often referred to as traditional marketing, offline marketing tactics include direct mailers, print advertising, radio ads, TV ads, billboards, flyers . . . you get the idea.

But what if I’m perusing a radio station’s website and I click on a banner ad. Is that online marketing or offline marketing?

Even though it’s a radio station’s website, the key word is “website.” So what you describe is an example of online marketing since you’re looking at a website and clicking on a digital ad that will take you to another website.

OK, but how about THIS example: What if I receive a direct mailer that has a QR code that leads to a website? Is that online marketing or offline marketing?

That’s an example of both. The direct mailer is definitely an offline marketing tactic. But the QR code leads to a web page, which makes it an online marketing tactic. So that’s a marketing campaign using both approaches: offline and online.

And that’s OK to do?

Yep. Remember, marketing is not a zero-sum game. There’s no rule saying you can only do online marketing or offline marketing—or that you can’t do both at the same time. Sure, over the last two decades, we’ve absolutely seen a shift with more marketing dollars being spent on online campaigns. But offline marketing still has a place.

So it sounds like maybe I shouldn’t get so caught up with what qualifies as online marketing vs. offline marketing, right?

EXACTLY. That’s kind of our main point. Yes, you should understand the basic differences between the two. But at the end of the day, what’s going to matter most is if you put together an effective integrated marketing strategy—not whether you used a certain number of online marketing vs. offline marketing tactics.

Wait . . . what’s an integrated marketing strategy?

In a nutshell, an integrated marketing campaign means that your various offline and online marketing tactics are aligned and working toward the same goals. Depending on the goal, you might find yourself using more online marketing strategies than offline. For example, if you’ve just released a new white paper and you want to promote it, you’ll likely use only online marketing channels (website form, social media, email marketing, and so forth).

But if you’re building brand awareness about a new senior living community you just opened, you’ll likely use a combination of offline and online marketing tactics: paid digital ads, print ads, direct mailers, new website, email marketing, in-person events, and so on.

What if I’m still having trouble deciding which offline marketing and online marketing campaigns make the most sense for my community?

That’s where we come in! You can outsource this important strategy work to us. Our marketing expertise includes both online and offline marketing. Plus, we understand the senior living industry. Let’s chat about your marketing needs.