How to Drive Online Registrations with Offline Marketing

When promoting conferences, tradeshows and other industry functions, your mind may immediately wander online—which makes sense. Online registrations are the easiest way to get people signed up. Plus, it gives you access to a greater pool of data, which is necessary for growing your event.

What you may not consider, however, is that you can drive those online registrations with offline marketing channels. Offline marketing, like online marketing, can be highly personalized, provide data, and allow you to cast a wide net to reach a wide range of attendees.

The catch is that you don’t have to drop your online marketing. Invest in your digital platforms where you see the greatest ROI, drop the ones that consistently underperform, and add offline marketing into the mix. From direct mail postcards to local flyers, this multi-channel approach allows you to drive greater brand awareness and connect with attendees everywhere they are—offline and online. 

If you’re new to offline marketing, use these strategies to make sure your new tactics drive online registrations. 

Include QR Codes on Posters and Flyers

Did you know QR codes are so 2019? According to Beacons Stac, QR codes are more second-nature to consumers than every before thanks to social media habits: “Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram have all come up with QR codes that allow users to follow accounts by scanning the code.” 

When driving online registrations from offline materials, the QR code is your best friend. It bridges the gap between offline and online without taking up too much space. It also speaks for itself because nearly anyone who sees your marketing asset will know what to do with it. 

All that’s left is the linking and Silicon Valley-based ProExhibits explains: “To optimize the impact of your event, create a QR code that links to your event registration page and include it on all your physical event promotional materials. By so doing, you not only encourage people to register for your event, but make it easier for them to learn more about it.” 

Don’t forget to set your print materials up for tracking. With a QR code you can do that in a few ways:

Launch a Dynamic Direct Mail Campaign

Another successful print and digital crossover tactic is direct mail marketing, which leverages consumer data available online to send segmented and personalized mailers, most often, postcards. What’s more, the benefit of direct mail is obvious when you look at 2018 data from the Direct Marketing Association. The average household response rate for direct mail is 5.1 percent compared to just .6 percent for email newsletters, .6 percent for search engine advertisements and .4 percent for social media campaigns.

They key is properly segmenting your audience, so you can personalize your campaigns, which can boost response rates by 500 percent, according to Canon Solutions. When segmenting, consider a wide range of potential personalization factors, suggests the guide, Modern Direct Mail Marketing Ideas for the 21st Century Business Owners, including:

Location, such as zip code or city

You can then use QR codes to personalize the online experience and drive registrations. You can also use a shortened link, like: Consider personalizing the link itself for a region or age-range to develop an immediate connection with the person receiving the mail.

Don’t Underestimate Swag 

From decals and magnets to patches and coasters, most audiences cannot resist branded swag with your business name, logo and event-specific hashtag on it. In fact, swag items can enhance the appeal of your direct mail campaigns. The global tech marketplace G2 explains: 

“If you want an added incentive to get your mail opened, include something besides paper in the envelope. This will increase the mailing cost, but the results are worth it. When people can feel there’s something in the envelope, their curiosity will drive them to open it up.”

As a bonus, you can drive online registrations by including a swag item that can be used at the event itself. “The lure of a free gift pushes your uncertain mail recipients over the edge into registering.” For example, your CTA might be, “Register online and use this button to attend our VIP dinner.”

Take it one step further and use the classic marketing strategy of creating urgency with a CTA like, “The first 20 peolpe who register online will be able to redeem this voucher for a free iPad. Include [code] in the registration form.”

Drive Online Registrations With Offline Marketing

These are just a few examples of how offline marketing can help you drive online registrations. Bonus: you may reach even more potential attendees, as more and more people become blind to online ads in a digital space that’s oversaturated with them. As you create your next marketing strategy, don’t discount print as a substitute for your digital channels that aren’t performing. Track the data and then do what marketers do: compare and optimize.


Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency for mid-size B2B businesses outsourcing content marketing. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.


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