Digital vs. print marketing: A bright and measurable future together

It’s no secret that digital media dominates. From speed of use to ease of measurement and tracking, it brings a host of benefits to marketers.  But that’s not to say that it’s the only route to success. Print marketing can help create impact, trust and creativity with your customers. 

Print can make an impact

With many consumers overloaded by online marketing, it’s time to rethink your media mix in order to create real impact with customers.  We often consider print and digital as binaries. But print evolves in tandem with digital. For example, it can be integrated with other formats to help deliver enhanced experiences for consumers and for many businesses - and this means increased commercial outcomes.

This is at the forefront of the developments to print. Many brands are now looking for impactful communications that combine data and creativity. Digital print-on-demand, which gives brands the ability to print once orders come in is likely to succeed as it allows brands to combine customer insights and creativity with formats that truly engage with customers. For example, brands can take internal customer data on recent online behaviour and combine it with third-party data to create a highly personalised, impactful communication for customers.

Data is key to understanding audiences

For this to be effective, forward-thinking businesses need to improve customer communications through the use of data. 

Many brands are already using sophisticated CRM tools for a better understanding and view of each individual customer. From purchase history, interests and lifestyle, brands are using this information to serve highly personalised and individualised content.

Using data in a more sophisticated way, will enable many brands to create hyper-targeted marketing campaigns, which will help deliver a better ROI and more engaged customers. Connectivity through the supply chain is also becoming more important, as we see demand amongst many consumers for convenience and speed increasing.  In the future, it’s likely that there will be a need for print marketing to evolve to be increasingly agile and reactive to customers' online behaviour.

Go direct to the customer to increase ROI

In terms of the most direct form of print marketing, ‘situational’ appears to be highly effective. This entails a consumer receiving a piece of printed marketing based on preferences they may have shared with a brand at an earlier stage of the customer journey. This form of ‘programmatic’ print is being used by a number of brands and can help deliver an increased ROI compared to other media, such as email reminders. For example, if a consumer was shopping online and decided to abandon their digital ‘basket’, brands could automatically print and send a pre-designed postcard to the consumer’s home. The postcard might include a promotion or price incentive with the aim to drive them to complete the transaction.

With digital transformation and technological advancements in this space, this process is likely to become even more efficient in the future. For instance, an embedded sensor in a postcard could notify when it has been opened and automatically apply the promotion or discount to the customer’s online basket. Looking to the future, advancements like these are likely to create a more seamless multi-channel experience, with minimal points of friction for the brand and the customer.

Leveraging tech for additional value

For the seamless multi-channel experience to become a reality, it seems that intelligent automation and triggered workflows are needed - something that seems out of reach to many brands. However, this type of software exists today with consumers already using online templates or services to create personalised print products - this approach can be adopted by brands to automate the process of personalised print marketing, based on predefined creatives, personas and actions. 
For the time being, brands can help improve their efforts by thinking about the purpose of using print within a campaign and focusing on maximising effectiveness and measuring impact.  Marketers can leverage data and technology to help better understand their target audience and create personalised, targeted, measurable communication within a wider marketing campaign.  

Print is likely to have a bright future within the fast-paced marketing landscape. Brands who are confident enough to integrate print and digital together will deliver more personalised, targeted, and relevant experiences for the customer – and are likely to see an increased ability to measure performance, create better engagement for customers, and deliver higher ROIs.

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