Print is dead – long live print!

Despite the proliferation of digital marketing during the past twenty years, print is the gift that keeps on giving.  Why?

In any likely post-lockdown scenario, it would be easy to conclude that we’ll all be relying much more on digital channels to communicate with friends, family, colleagues and clients.  The salience of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, SlideShare and Skype during the enforced restriction on movements could be indicative of a post-analogue world. 

We might imagine that more direct forms of personal engagement and tangible interactions are becoming a thing of the past.  Yet, despite the relative ease with which we have all adapted to the new digital reality, it is the physical things we miss.  That’s where print plays an ever-important role.  And as marketers we ignore the power of this channel at our peril.

Here are six things to consider:

1. Target audience behavioural insight

Research into your prospects’ or customers’ habits and preferences will help to inform the decisions about the channels you use to reach them.  Above all, it is about tailoring the message and medium for maximum impact. 

However, the days of linear customer journeys down the sales and marketing funnel are no longer.  Our pathway to a buying decision is now increasingly complex, messy and involves multiple players, even for consumers.  Printed communications can be effective as part of an integrated, multichannel programme of activities, helping to raise awareness and extend the reach of your campaign beyond the limits of email opt-in lists.  They can also help to strengthen brand loyalty after the initial sale. 

2. Increased engagement

Printed literature provides a very tangible dimension to an otherwise two-dimensional world of touch-screen technology, particularly if it contains a well-written ‘call to action’ to incentivise the reader.  Print marketing also tends to have a longer shelf life, being retained and shared in the home, office or workplace.  It has a tactility that is not possible to experience with other media.  According to the Joint Industry Committee for Mail (JICMAIL), direct mail communications enjoy an 81% open rate and up to 94% engagement.

3. Novelty factor

In today’s increasingly digitised world, people of all age groups are actively switching off and avoiding screen time.  People often associate quality downtime with catching up with a glossy magazine - at home and work.  We set aside time to open printed mail, particularly if it is personally addressed.  A professionally written, well-designed letter, flyer, newsletter or brochure may provide better value for your marketing investment, whether your target customer is a millennial or a pensioner.

4. Stronger loyalty and trust

Print can increase awareness and engagement, and provide an enduring, tangible reminder of your brand or product, making it literally come to life when held in your audience’s hands.  It is one of the many reasons why physical mail tends to be trusted more than its digital equivalent.  In fact, 87 per cent of consumers trust mail and consider it believable.  As most of us need to experience at least seven ‘touchpoints’ - brand contacts or interactions - before we take action, print is likely to be one of the more memorable ones because of its physicality.

5. A kickstart for digital campaigns

Make the most of harvesting interest from postal marketing and traditional advertising with QR codes, which are experiencing a resurgence due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  These can help to quickly and effectively digitise the customer journey, driving traffic to your website, landing page or social channels.

6. Data management

Having a reliable and up-to-date contacts database is of paramount importance for effective direct marketing engagement.  Companies should always adhere to the latest data protection and data processing regulations, maintain a suppression list and be wary of bought lists for which the lawful basis for third-party processing is unclear.

If you would like help with any of the topics explored above, please get in touch with The Niblett Whellams Partnership today. 

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