Offline Marketing Strategies for Your E-Commerce Business


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Several years ago, browsing aisles and purchasing a product in-store was the norm. Unfortunately, that all changed in 2020 when more than 2.14 billion people switched to online shopping. This left brands grappling to find e-commerce platforms to set up their online stores and stay in business.

Today, consumers are savvier. They want to shop in a way that suits them, and they have 7.9 million e-tailers from which to choose. If your business doesn’t cater to this desire, two things will happen: customers will head to your competitors, and you risk disruption. That’s why there’s a heavy focus on digital marketing to reach and serve the online shopper.

So, why consider offline marketing? It seems counterintuitive, especially if you generate 100% of your sales online. In reality, there’s still a place for offline marketing. You just need to know the right tactics.

Key Takeaways

  • Offline marketing humanizes your marketing practices and offers an intimate setting to build meaningful connections with your customers.
  • A pop-up shop is a low-investment strategy to boost brand awareness, connect and engage with your customers in person, experiment with new product bundles, merchandising ideas, and pricing, get valuable feedback from customers, and test new avenues for potential offline expansion.
  • When you create emotional connections with customers, you’re more likely to see loyalty and high retention rates, which leads to increased revenue.

Is Offline Marketing Still Relevant Today?

We live in a digital world. But consumers still crave personal, lifelike experiences. They want you to woo, impress, notice, and appreciate them. Consumers want to connect with your brand — not just buy from you. But how do you achieve this in an online-first market? The simple answer: Take your marketing strategies offline.

Offline marketing humanizes your marketing practices and offers an intimate setting to build meaningful connections with your customers. Plus, it compliments your digital marketing strategies.

Yet, some feel offline marketing is outdated and irrelevant. But this couldn’t be any less true because it:

  • Appeals to consumers of all generations
  • Reaches audiences that choose not to use the internet
  • Increases your brand’s authenticity value and credibility
  • Makes it easier to establish relationships with customers
  • Builds customer loyalty to your brand
  • Gives you faster feedback, so you know what bothers your clients
  • Provides opportunities to save deals by negotiating with your customers
  • Offers more independence in your advertising, free from technology
  • Generates a strong return on investment (ROI)

Let’s review how you can use offline promotional tactics to grow your business today.

Offline Marketing Strategies and How to Execute

  • Direct Mail
  • Pop-up Shops
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Package Inserts
  • Brochures With QR Codes

You spent the last quarter performing analytics on your e-commerce site and see your online marketing efforts aren’t delivering favorable results. So, you turn to offline marketing for help.

It might seem a little odd (and uncomfortable) at first, but the benefits are undeniable. Here are a few strategies to add to your small business toolbox.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is far from dead. It boasts higher open rates than sending hundreds of email marketing messages daily, which consumers easily ignore.

Established e-commerce giants like DoorDash, Amazon, and Uber Eats use direct mail because it:

  • Delivers higher response rates when done well
  • Reaches audiences that digital channels don’t
  • Helps them stand out in the mailbox from other popular companies
  • Makes an impression online marketing tactics can’t match

NatureBox, a membership-based subscription that delivers healthy snacks, uses direct mail to increase repeat orders. The brand sent postcards with a $10 discount promo code and information on customers’ reward balance to win over inactive customers:

Screenshot of an offer from Naturebox with a $25 credit.
Source: Inkit

The result: NatureBox saw a 35% lift in orders per customer and nearly 60% lift in net revenue per customer compared to those who didn’t get the offer.

What makes direct mail more appealing? The message finds the consumer at home where they’re comfortable, in control, and with quick access to the internet.

If you craft a message that’s convincing enough, prospects will come to your e-commerce site to buy. So, consider mailing printed catalogs to your customer to promote your products, deals, and offers. Purely online retailers like Wayfair, Birchbox, Bonobos, and Amazon pride themselves on creating efficient online consumer experiences in print catalogs.

Why? Because directly mailed catalogs:

  • Our high-quality and visually appealing
  • Customers trust them more than online promotions
  • Stand apart from the cluttered social media feeds and digital inboxes
  • Can linger in consumers’ houses, which increases top-of-mind awareness of your brand
  • Increase the vividness of a product as the consumer visualizes using the product
  • Make the product presentation more vivid, tactile, and memorable without the constraints and expenses associated with physical stores

Pop-up Shops

As an e-commerce retailer, you generate sales online. So, it might not make sense to use print marketing tactics. Plus, too many intrusive pop-up ads leave consumers with banner blindness, making them immune to your digital marketing efforts.

A pop-up shop is a low-investment strategy to:

  • Boost brand awareness
  • Connect and engage with your customers in person
  • Experiment with new product bundles, merchandising ideas, and pricing
  • Get valuable feedback from customers
  • Test new avenues for potential offline expansion

Launching a pop-up shop isn’t straightforward, though. Pick a venue, promote the shop, and analyze its success. Then, to target a new audience or product line, a pop-up shop validates demand before you invest.

Glossier, a digitally-based best-in-beauty brand, dressed up nine shipping containers and launched a pop-up shop with their bestselling products. Customers sampled new items and learned more about how to select and apply Glossier products.

Picture of Glossier building.
Source: Boston Seaport

E-commerce eyewear brand Warby Parker also used pop-up shops to test physical retail. Their experiment was a success, so they opened another 91 retail locations.

To do the same for your brand:

  • Determine the goals for your pop-up shop: Create a positive connection with customers offline, test the market or new product lines, or take advantage of peak sales times
  • Find the right location with a highly-engaged audience: A space in a shopping mall, mobile shop, event space, main street storefront, or build your own
  • Offer a great user experience: Use amazing visuals or live streaming to create a pop-up live experience

Speaking Engagements

How do you position yourself as an authority in your niche when the e-commerce market is already crowded? Leverage your expertise — speak or participate at conferences and industry events to get the word out about your business.

By booking speaking engagements and getting yourself out there, you’ll:

  • Generate networking opportunities leading to business partnerships for marketing campaigns
  • Position yourself as an authority, build a reputation for yourself, and increase awareness of your brand
  • Help people learn more about your brand by offering flyers, gift bags with business cards, or branded swag
  • Generate engagement from audiences that come to see you instead of using newspaper ads or cold calling

So, when the opportunity to speak at an in-person conference comes up, take it. This is what Simplified SEO Consulting does to connect and build trust with their ideal clients.

Owner Jessica Tappana, says, “People are hungry for connection right now. When I attend a conference, my number one goal is to meet people and connect with them. When asked, I give them sincere advice about websites and SEO. Also, I’ve found that conferences pay off long-term as some people who may not need my services when we first meet remember me down the road when they need my services. They feel comfortable reaching out to me directly because we met and connected in person.”

Some opportunities to engage in person include:

  • Participating in trade shows
  • Sponsoring events and causes
  • Offering free workshops

When you create emotional connections with customers, you’re more likely to see loyalty and high retention rates, which leads to increased revenue.

Package Inserts

Packaging is the first element buyers see when interacting with your products. Not only does it protect your products during transportation, but it also improves the customer experience.

Add fun elements inside your packages with extra design efforts, such as package inserts offering free shipping, discounts, or gifts. This improves the customer experience and generates brand loyalty and engagement.

Althea, a Korea-based beauty store includes free product samples in their packages. This way, people can try sample products while receiving their orders. For instance, the package below arrived with a mini bunting kit, do-it-yourself (DIY) birthday stickers, and a 10% off coupon for the customer’s next purchase.

Basket of product-samples.
Source: Project Vanity

Althea threw in lots of product samples and extras the customer didn’t order, such as a skin mask, point pads, half-moon eyes, and more.

Brochures With QR Codes

Brochures are often mistaken for leaflets, but the two are unique:

  • Leaflets offer limited space to put across a brief message concisely
  • Brochures provide more space to include info about your products and services

Brochures allow you to deliver more details about your business and products.

Rahul Mohanachandran, the co-founder of Kasera, says they use quick response (QR) codes on brochures. This makes it easy for users to visit their website with one click.

Apparently, it works well: “This has increased the landing page visits of our brochure campaigns by 15% when using QR code-based brochures.”

QR code on a burger menu.
Source: QR Code Generator

Create or Choose a Strategy for Your Business

You want to reach your target audience and observe their behavior and where they spend their time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially in the ever-changing digital landscape.

So, how do you efficiently choose an agile offline marketing strategy for your e-commerce business? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Identify and set SMART high-end goals and objectives: Do you need to increase sales or secure your position in the market?
  • Look at your past performance: Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to identify existing opportunities, determine your success drivers, and discover what hinders your success
  • Write your vision: Where is your business heading to? What are its purposes and values?
  • Describe your mission: Study your target audience, know your competitors, and determine your value proposition

What To Do Next

Offline marketing is an effective way of advertising your e-commerce business. So, don’t sleep on it — use it in tandem with your digital marketing campaigns. Understanding the offline strategy that suits your e-commerce business is an essential step to sustaining the growth of your business. For example, if you’re a small startup with a few experts in your team, consider speaking engagements as your strategy.

Digital marketing tools have helped a lot of small businesses to reach a wider scope of audiences and thrive online.  While offline marketing builds a stronger connection with your target prospects, managing well your business’s online presence is a good strategy for driving traffic to online stores and increasing sales. It’s important that you find a digital marketing tool that is designed coherently with your offline marketing strategies to get great results.

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