An article recently published by Psychology Today looked into why communicating online may create more stress than connections. While they mention it's "the best means we have for connecting and working together during the pandemic" they also believe it's creating "virtual fatigue".
Humans are societal creatures and we naturally thrive around others. However, pivoting to virtual methods has taken a toll on our communal instincts.
For instance, there's no social cues in digital communication and you can't read body language as easily. How many accidental interruptions have you witnessed on video calls? Probably quite a few.
While these online hangouts provide interactions with minimal barriers, over time they can create anxiety simply from how we are wired. In person we can control how we physically present ourselves, but appearing as a face on a screen is limiting to say the least.
Digital hangouts are a communication bridge that we need during these times. This being said, many of us are probably ready to get back in our workspaces where face-to-face communication is the daily normal.
Online communication makes it easier for us to talk with select individuals or audiences at mass. As a result, connecting with potential customers has become increasingly difficult because they're living in the same digital channels as the sales and marketers trying to reach them.
Catching eyes online not only is more competitive than ever but it's also yielding the lowest ROIs. HubSpot's data reported the total number of deals created dropped 11% the week of April 6th as well. This could be a product of a greater online presence from the general population.
Only the strong will survive when it comes to relying solely on digital channels for reaching people. A survey conducted by Forbes Insights found 91% of companies with revenues over $500 million are using videos, making it the top digital form of digital advertisements for companies this size.
Video is without a doubt one of the more engaging channels of digital communication. Fortunately, companies such as Vidyard, Animoto, Wistia, and HippoVideo are making it easier for SMBs to leverage them with minimal resources.
Although some online channels may be more effective than others, 95% of marketers agree that multichannel marketing is essential to success but only 73% of them say they have a strategy in place. Orchestrating a cross-channel strategy is much easier said than done.
Sales engagement platforms help layout such approaches to get your message out to a target audience. Yet virtual fatigue is beginning to set in due to our current situation making online strategies less effective. Plus, consumers already have most of the information they need right at their fingertips. Digital strategies are experiencing a diminishing pull when guiding consumers towards solutions.
To address this, leveraging offline content integrated into your digital workflows is a great place to start.
5 Ways to Have Online to Offline Parity
Below we list five easy ways to start using physical advertisements to reach potential customers. Adding offline engagement to your approach shouldn't be out of the picture as new software enables parity with your online content.
1. Introductory postcard
What's the first thing you a send a new lead when they enter your sales funnel? Is it an email or maybe a text message? Marketing Sherpa reports that 73% of new B2B leads are not even sales ready, highlighting the importance of nurturing. One of the easiest ways to establish trust off the bat is sending them an AI handwritten postcard simply introducing yourself. Try to avoid up-selling your solution in this message but mention how you plan on contacting them next. This transparency will help guide quality leads to the next stage of the buying process.
2. Email / phone call follow-up letter
Following up can be an extremely under-looked area to establish trust as most organizations rely solely on email to do so. Whether a prospect doesn't respond to an email or just flat out ghosts you, sending them a follow-up letter can be that decisive touch point to reengage with them. Especially when you're seeing a complete lack of interest, this is a great last effort play to warm your lead back up. A Harvard study found that the average response time of 2,241 U.S. companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours. While timely responses are best practice, following up with colder leads in an offline channel could be that meaningful engagement which gets them to convert.
3. Condensed case study brochure
Education is one of the best ways to continue nurturing leads in the middle of the funnel. Sending a case study via email can be very effective yet condensing them into a brochure will do an even better job of catching eyeballs. Neil Patel did this digitally and saw a 39% increase of leads generated after reducing the word count from 2,286 to 615. This would still be impossible to fit on a brochure, but by visualizing key metrics and including a brief overview, you can effectively communicate the impact your product or service had. As you're thinking of customers to reach out to for building the case study, also think of the prospects you'll be targeting. Ensure the case study customer is similar to the prospects you will be targeting to achieve better results in your campaign.
4. Thank You note after a demo or meeting
As a contact nears the bottom of the funnel and you finally book a time to meet with them, chances are a product demo or implementation meeting will follow shortly. To express your gratitude for their time, send them a thoughtful Thank You note. Doing so will establish trust and reduce the response time of future digital outreach. This is the closest point to becoming a customer and a simple offline touch can be all it takes to convey authenticity and drive them to convert.
5. Onboarding gift or donation option
Sales has closed the deal and your latest client is handed off to customer success. What's a better way to welcome them as a customer than giving them the choice of a gift or charitable donation? The gift doesn't need to have a high perceived value, and as long it's useful or relevant to their interests, it's hard to get wrong. When Econsultancy and Adobe conducted their Annual Digital Trends report, they found customer experience as the most exciting opportunity for 2020. Completely differentiate from your competitors by delivering unparalleled customer experience with gifting or donation options.
Use These Strategies to Compliment Digital
Leveraging direct mail and gifting with online advertising has never been easier thanks to offline engagement platforms. Campaigns that integrate online to offline experiences have seen tremendous response rate increases.
Furthermore, multichannel communication has never been more effective. According to Shopify, multi-channel marketing and selling increases revenue by an average of 38%, 120%, and 190% with each additional channel. Offline engagement is now a scalable low-hanging channel that you shouldn't disregard.
For all we know, HubSpot's recent data reporting the lowest response rates of all time could be due to the virtual fatigue of consumers.
We may start seeing a huge reformation in how digital sales and marketing efforts evolve. In the meantime as you continue to optimize your digital approach, start thinking of ways to slip an offline touch in your sales funnel.