Add Real-Life Warmth to Digital Marketing

Tactile Marketing

If you've ever walked through a Whole Foods store, you remember what the experience was like. There were fresh flowers at the entrance, wooden shelves, warm ambient lighting, and free samples scattered throughout the store (i.e., marketing tactics used to create lasting feelings of warmth and trust within the customer).

While digital marketing has proven to be an effective form of communicating with and converting customers, many brands are looking for ways to create a more emotional, holistic experience - one where there are no distinct lines between on- and offline interactions. How do you bring these two together? By adding tactile marketing to your digital marketing mix, you can pair powerful data with a personal touch.

How Tactile Marketing Can Personalize Digital Campaigns

Tactile marketing is the integration of physical marketing materials into a digital marketing strategy. By using physical items to connect with customers, the experience with your brand stimulates multiple senses and emotions, making the interaction more memorable.

These real-world tactics are only limited by a marketer's imagination. For example, when a webmaster signs up for Google's Partner Program, in addition to all of the digital resources he receives, Google also sends the webmaster multiple personalized printed items in the mail, including a booklet explaining all of the program's benefits, coupons to give the webmaster's customers, and a Google hat.

3 Tips for Using Tactile Marketing

Google's use of tactile marketing is just one of the many ways to supplement a digital marketing strategy. Below are a few tips for implementing tactile marketing in your own campaign.

1. Scale your efforts according to the potential return

When it comes to tactile marketing, all customers are not created equal. Allow potential or current customers' value to guide the amount of time and money spent on them. Allocating less than a penny to help drive a significant consumer purchase (or a five-figure B2B purchase) doesn't make sense. In the
example above, Google recognizes the lifetime value webmasters have, so it sends them helpful materials and extras that other customers don't get.

2. Understand behavioral signs

Tactile marketing materials can be used to create lasting brand awareness and increase engagement. By understanding buyer behavior and where your customers are in the sales cycle, you can hit each person at just the right time to make a genuine connection.

For example, let's say a user downloads multiple whitepapers on your website, attends a webinar, and signs up for your newsletter. Your sales team has even had a few calls with him, but they can't seem to convert him into a customer. Then, your company sends him physical copies of the whitepapers he downloaded in a well-packaged, branded box that can be kept and referenced later. This tactic creates feelings of goodwill between the potential customer and your brand, which ultimately leads to a greater chance of conversion.

3. Trigger action with the right materials

Although tactile marketing is great for forging personal connections and building long-term relationships with customers, its customizability also makes it excellent for triggering one specific purchase or upgrade. Simply look at what action you want a customer to take, and let that action drive your strategy.

For example, a "freemium" Web application that helps you track your time as a freelancer sends out a small handheld timer. It reminds you that your trial
period is about to end; the company doesn't want you to go back to days of repeatedly looking at the clock. Suddenly, users who would have simply let their subscriptions expire might be enticed to renew. It's a simple device that makes a big impact.

Concluding Thoughts

If you can master these tips, you can maximize the ROI of your tactile marketing efforts. While sending a hat, a poster, or a foam finger might cost more than sending an email, something tangible is more likely to capture customers' attention.

When you find yourself digging a digital marketing hole of impersonal emails or ads that follow your customers around the Web, take a page from Whole Foods' playbook and use real-world marketing to create a lasting brand impression.

Online Behavior © 2012