As the diverse collection of online media continues to grow at lightning speed, many independent retailers have begun to question the value of maintaining their presence in traditional marketing. They know cultivating a strong online marketing presence is vital to stay in the game, but deciding how much or in what ways can present a real challenge.

When creating your marketing plan, the important thing to remember is that it’s not about choosing between traditional or digital marketing, but finding the right balance of old and new for your business. Chances are, no successful business has identified their target as an exclusively traditional or digital audience. Learning which customers are tuned-in to which channels can help you craft a perfectly integrated complete message for your brand.

Discover what works for your business

A great way to identify which channels are most effective is to consider the different types of customer engagement you receive through your marketing messages — passive vs active. Both types of engagement have real, tested value that can help you achieve results, but they work in very different ways.

At the simplest level, most forms of traditional marketing can be defined as passive engagement. Think, for example, of a print ad in your local magazine or newspaper. Although the customer is engaged for the 30 seconds it takes them to read the ad, there typically is no next step. There might be a phone number or website with a call to action but overall, the conversation is one-sided and often ends right there on the page.

That being said, there is still value in traditional marketing. Print, radio and mail campaigns help you reach a wide audience. They provide a great opportunity for brand consistency by allowing you to spread a cohesive image or message across a variety of platforms. There is also added value in the idea that they are easy to digest. Often, 30 seconds is the only time your customer has to commit — but what happens when they want more?

Build your digital marketplace

Today’s consumer expects the ability to have one-on-one, immediate interaction with a business and is often frustrated if they can’t find a substantial presence for that business online.

That’s where digital marketing steps up as the perfect complement — filling any remaining voids left unsatisfied by traditional outlets and creating new active engagement. Maintaining an active online presence through the use of email and social media marketing campaigns allows you to build lasting relationships with your customers. It opens a dialogue around your brand and gives your customers a direct channel not only to your ears, but to their extended digital networks as well.

Weigh your options and invest

Another factor to consider for each type of marketing is cost. Though necessary, traditional marketing can be expensive if sustained from month-to-month in a variety of media outlets. After you’ve created (or in some cases paid someone else to create) your campaign, you’re then paying for every printed inch, second of airtime or stamp to get the message out there to your audience. On top of that, it can be hard to gauge a solid ROI. How do you know it’s working?

Though less expensive, digital marketing requires a different investment — time. To create a sustained digital value for your customers, you need to send, post, tweet and pin often. In addition to maintaining the right frequency, great content is key. A steady stream of images, links, brand/product news and engaging dialogue will not only help you capture your digital audience, but keep them coming back.

Put the pieces together

If you’re already using traditional marketing methods to promote your business, driving new traffic to your digital presence is simple. Be sure to include your website address and your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest URLs in print ads and on your business or customer loyalty cards. Include signage at store entrances, on key displays and near the register informing customers where to find you online. Any of your print campaigns or traditional public relations communications can be shared easily online which can help create consistency and recognition across your marketing channels.

An established bulk mailing list can be used to prospect new email contacts and build a larger social media audience for your business. Consider including a special incentive or discount for customers who follow your pages or add themselves to your email list. Keep in mind that conversations are more important than conversions as you begin to increase your digital marketing efforts. Think of managing your website, social media and email content in the same way you would manage your physical store. Not only is it important that customers are able to find you, but also that your online presence remains clean and well-stocked with the most up-to-date info. Once you put the effort into building a new digital audience, the real work begins — keeping them engaged.

Make the digital leap

As a small business owner, you might be wondering how you’ll find the time to keep these different marketing pieces in motion. The important thing to remember is that you already have the skills needed to integrate traditional and digital outlets to successfully reach your audience no matter where they are. You know your business and products inside and out. You also know who your customer is and the best ways to speak to them. A SnapRetail subscription is the perfect tool to help you take those existing skills and turn them into an effective digital presence for marketing your business.

SnapRetail simplifies your efforts by integrating your businesses’ social media platforms and email contacts in one place where they can effectively work together. Features like the Calendar help you schedule several email or social campaigns at once, even weeks in advance to save you time. Our monthly Promotion Kits include professionally designed retail-focused email templates along with coordinating social media posts, allowing you to build complete digital campaigns to engage your audience 365 days a year. In addition, we’ve built a team of marketing consultants dedicated to helping you plan, send and measure your campaigns to help your business succeed.