It’s not news that today’s customers expect a consistently branded experience with access to personally relevant content across all touchpoints from computer to smartphone to kiosk to store. And most companies today are working on obliging those customers by making it seamless for them to start a branded transaction online and finish it offline.

What is new and exciting however, is the ability to bridge online and offline experiences in new ways that carry the power to enrich visitors’ experiences in both spheres.

Connecting with Your Customers

These new efforts are grounded in the growing understanding that there is more to closing the gap between online and offline than simply tweaking the branding and UX elements of your online environments.

What’s required is a fundamental realignment of your organization’s point of view from simply playing a matching game to really connecting and learning from your customers. By tapping into the data exchange made possible by combining online and offline technologically — as well as aesthetically — you can drive ROI for your business across all channels and touchpoints.

Building Online and Offline Synergy

Here’s a look at three innovative ways to think about building brand and CX synergy between online and offline channels:

1. Optimizing Live Environments

Imagine a mall visitor standing outside a store window considering a digital display. He looks at the photos of models wearing jeans and leather jackets. He wanders into the store and a few minutes later, he is standing in front of the denim section browsing the jeans selection.

The store can actually track this visitor — and many others — to see whether the same people who pass by the jeans-and-leather-jacket display eventually end up looking at these items in-store and whether this changes if, for example, the leather jacket is replaced by a flannel shirt.

Through such a mechanism, it becomes possible to A/B test an offline environment such as a store display, billboard or informational banner. By using content that lives in digital but measurement that lives offline, digital can be used to increase conversion offline as well as in online channels.

2. Using Online CX to Improve Offline CX

It’s a truism to say that a business’s online experience impacts the perception of its brand, both online or off. But many businesses are still stuck in damage-control mode: They are so busy trying to make their online experiences good enough not to ruin their brand perceptions that they are failing to see how they can actively use online experiences to improve those perceptions.  

A great example is the Dutch police force which, like many police forces, had long suffered from a public perception problem. People didn’t trust them and they were seen as uncaring, unresponsive and ineffective.

To address these issues, the Dutch police created a comprehensive online environment that used content targeting and personalization to serve relevant news and location-based updates and alerts to citizens. They also encouraged individual officers to actively engage digitally with visitors through social media, blogging and a new direct contact hotline service. 

These improvements resulted in an increase in visits to the Dutch police’s digital channels, increases in the amount of citizen-generated information and a greater willingness to engage with officers on city streets. By leveraging the power of a responsive digital environment, the Dutch police were able to completely reverse their brand perception in the offline world.

3. Learning from Offline CX to Personalize Online CX

Many businesses use digital as simply another marketing channel, relying heavily on push marketing to deliver messages to users. But another way to make use of the rich data yielded by bridging online and offline is to analyze the user’s offline behavior to gain insights into how to make the online user experience more engaging.

Just one example of this would be at a theme park that uses simple digital tracking tools to observe and analyze a visitor’s entire journey through the park, see what they find interesting, what they choose to skip and which areas they are drawn to and which they avoid.

Then, the next time those visitors engage with the same theme park in digital, through an app, mobile or desktop visit, say, the content that they see can be curated to show them what they are likely to find the most appealing.

Title image "9 in a row" (CC BY 2.0) by  Rene Mensen