How to Combine Print and Digital Marketing
Many assumed that the rise of digital would be the end of print. Although Marketers shifted a large percentage of their communication efforts to digital platforms, instead of dying, print has successfully made the shift to fill different roles in the marketer’s portfolio.
Thankfully, headlines such as print vs. digital have now been retired. It is now a question of how these two different forms of media can complement each other. Experts in printing continue to find ways to supplement the work of digital marketing. And digital marketers are finding a way to use print as part of an overall marketing strategy.
Print is New Again
Consumers are inundated with digital advertising. Display ads, banner ads, pop-ups, pre-roll videos, native advertising – it is hard to do anything online without being overwhelmed and oversaturated. On the other hand, print pieces are used less and less for advertising, allowing them to stand out.
Print also offers something digital doesn’t – a tactile experience and a sense of permanence. There is an appeal to something that you can touch, and that doesn’t disappear with a click or swipe.
Print is also seeing new life with advances in print technology. Thanks to these new technologies, print is far more flexible than ever before. It has become more cost-effective to print shorter runs. Jobs can now be turned around faster, and it has become possible to merge customer data with print data through variable printing to produce personalized and customized print pieces for each recipient.
With cloud-based, off-premises printing, marketers can now create pieces online and have them shipped to multiple locations or even direct mailed to consumers without touching a single piece of paper.
The Power is in the Combination
While there may still be marketing opportunities for print-only campaigns, the real power is in using print and digital together. This combination takes the best of both worlds and has the potential to create exponential returns. Here are some of the possible ways to combine print and digital marketing.
The simplest way to bridge print and digital is through using QR codes. You are likely familiar with QR or “Quick Response” codes. They are scannable codes, similar to bar codes that, when scanned, can prompt a specific action on a smart device.
For a while, QR codes looked like they would disappear, at least from the marketing toolkit. The biggest problem with them was that they required a third-party app to function on most smart devices. In 2017, Apple added QR code scanning to its native camera app, breathing new life into the codes.
Marketers can place QR codes on print materials to drive consumers to learn more, go deeper, or purchase products. They can be printed on just about anything, from flyers to t-shirts, and can be linked to nearly any destination. QR codes can send users to a website, prompt them to download an app, help them send a text message or email, access a special offer, or leave a review. If it can be done on a smartphone or tablet, a QR code can make it happen.
QR codes can also help marketers track user behaviour. Through embedding personalized URLs or other metadata, they can monitor traffic coming from print pieces. For those places where QR codes may not be preferred, personalized URLs can have the same impact and tracking capabilities and can also be printed on nearly anything.
Most marketers don’t think about print and social media in the same context. However, print is a perfect way to drive social media traffic and interest. Hashtags are simply keywords and phrases that become searchable on many social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
They are a great way to generate buzz and get people talking about a topic. By creating memorable hashtags and including them in print, these materials have the potential to drive users to social media accounts and even get them talking about a brand, product, or service.
Some marketers have figured out that creating contests around these hashtags can create even more interest. People are encouraged to post a photo, idea, or something else and include the hashtag. Winners are selected from all the entries and used to continue to increase awareness.
A highly popular use of print for many years was the physical coupon. Many people remember clipping these coupons and taking them to the store for a discount. Coupons are making a comeback in the digital age.
However, instead of cutting coupons, people can just log in to redeem the offer. Used correctly, these coupons are highly trackable. They are also one of the best ways to use digital to drive people to print. If some discounts are only available through the physical coupon, people will be on the lookout for your latest promotional piece.
The Rest is Up to Your Imagination
There is really no limit to the possibilities of combining print and digital advertising. Large brands with giant marketing departments will likely continue to lead the way. However, businesses of any size are just as well-positioned to develop innovative ways to leverage print and digital to reach new customers and increase profits.