We are living in a digital age. We can order whatever we want at the click of a button, the days of ‘I have nothing to do’ are over, and any argument can be either won or lost by a swift Google search. So, it seems natural to assume that reaching out via the internet is the best way for brands to interact with their customers, drive traffic and increase sales right? Well, not necessarily.
Here’s why companies need to start integrating print into their marketing campaigns.
The Rise Of The Digital
There’s no denying the impact of the digital world on print marketing. Print has declined, newspapers have reached breaking point and the message to marketers rings loud and clear – go digital, or go home. And anyway, why wouldn’t they? Clearly it is far more efficient to send an email than a hand-written letter. However, the widespread migration to digital hasn’t signalled the end of print just yet.
Social media marketing and digital campaigns began as a novelty – a welcome change from unwanted post, adverts in magazines, loyalty cards that we will no doubt lose and discount vouchers handed out on the street. Unless it was a Hogwarts letter, we didn’t want to know.
But what began as novelty has now become the norm. As consumers, we are being bombarded with pop-ups, sponsored posts, junk emails and videos of ‘famous’ YouTubers screaming at the camera about just how incredible their latest electric toothbrush is. The digital world is overwhelming and it is time for marketers to recognize and respond to that.
What Is It About Print?
With many companies now occupying a solely online presence, it’s becoming harder for the brands to appear ‘human’ or ‘real’, and this is where print could work in a brand’s favour. There’s something authentic and meaningful about flicking through a glossy catalogue containing new products, folding down pages as your birthday approaches and leaving it within sight of a family member, or simply enjoying actually being sent something in the mail which isn’t a gas bill. More personal than its digital equivalent – an email sent to thousands of people, or a link to a company’s website, it’s something that has been sent directly to you and cannot be accessed by millions of people at the click of a button.
Besides, consumers are becoming more aware of digital ads. We can spy sponsored posts a mile off, we know how to install ad blockers and any email without a catchy subject line is going straight into our Junk folder before you can say ‘Mid-Season Must Haves’.
We may well be the digital generation, but that doesn’t mean digital is the only way to reach us. Studies have shown that physical media like cards and letters increase feelings of connectivity more so than an online campaign or email. Physical material is ‘real’, you can hold it in your hand, and it’s easier to focus on it. You’re unlikely to become distracted while flicking through a brochure or catalog. Reading an email on your iPhone however, there’s the chance of Snapchat notifications, incoming calls, more emails, WhatsApp notifications or pesky reminders, and if our attention is diverted, it’s unlikely we will return to the same email. But brochures or catalogues can be arranged on a coffee table, picked up again when boredom hits and, if designed well, avoid the sensory overload of digital media.
Combining The Two
Digital marketing is here to stay, but what’s becoming increasingly clear is that brands need new ways to attract customers and reach out to audiences, and a combination of print and digital might be the way to do that.
Using a digital campaign to allow people to ‘opt in’ to your monthly catalogue or direct mail is one way to combine the two. Or, as marketers can get a pretty accurate idea of when the mail will be arriving in someone’s mailbox, plan corresponding social media campaigns or targeted emails. Direct mail could plant a seed in the user’s mind, with a follow up social media campaign there to greet them when they undoubtably begin their next mindless Facebook scroll.
One of the flaws with print is that it’s far harder to track the results. There is no way to monitor how long someone spends looking at your brochure or whether they visit your website after reading a certain page. But, by setting up campaigns to correspond with print marketing, brands can get an idea of whether their print efforts are paying off.
Companies that operate solely online are growing rapidly and there is no doubt they will continue to grow for the remainder of 2017. But, with the explosion of digital and an increasingly ‘connected’ world there is a space opening for brands. Providing a way for customers to escape the digital, even if only for a few minutes, is rewarding for both consumer and brand. It’s novel, fresh and, in a world of connectivity, exactly what many of your customers may need.