Paper, rock, digital: The enduring value of print


22-08-2016 14:08:26

Paper, rock, digital: The enduring value of print

We don’t just live in a digital world, our lives are steeped in series of 0’s and 1’s – at work, at home, in the car, in the air, everywhere, as a pre-digital Dr. Seuss might say. But as we check our trending social media campaigns, hashtag hits, web stickiness, ad click-through rates, and email bounce margins, don’t write off the old parchment just yet. Ink on paper – printed hardcopy – still has a key role to play in your communications arsenal, even today.

Paper brings real benefits to a marketing and communications campaign because it has an enduring, tactile allure – people like to touch and flip through or linger over an attractive brochure or book. It stimulates our senses differently than looking at a screen, and can have a different impact on your perception. Plus, you can pass it on or leave it behind – on a desk, coffee table or reception area.

Digital drive
Even though digital now dominates, print still earns its place in a panoply of marketing and communication instruments, whether direct mail, brochures, flyers, magazines or books. Print is actually complementary and can even help drive digital. Many online searches are enhanced by offline messages, with print advertising, for example, boosting social and digital media campaigns, and helping achieve stronger results.

In fact, direct mail response rates still significantly outperform those of digital channels, to the tune of 3.7% with a house list or 1.0% with a prospect list, compared to 0.62% for all digital channels combined (2015 DMA Response Rate Report). And this response rate is confirmed by our own clients’ experience, some of whom also point to the stricter privacy rules that make email campaigns more difficult than direct mail in Europe or Canada.

According to surveys in the US, 90% of consumers prefer to receive promotional announcements through direct mail (Nielsen Research), 85% sort through and read selected pieces of mail every day (research by Mail Print), and 40% say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct mail (idem).

And, many people would still rather sit back in their recliner and read a magazine on paper rather than on a screen (70% of Americans, according to a 2011 survey by Deloitte), preferring the feel of paper over other media.

But, hey, we’re not saying you should ditch digital! Both ether and pulp have a role in your marketing and communication campaigns and we can help find the balance that is right for your business. 

We combine print and digital campaigns for many of our clients. For example, for a North American client who is seeking to increase brand recognition and capture more business from Europe, we employ multi-piece marketing packages that push prospective customers directly to the client’s digital platforms (SlideShare, LinkedIn, website, podcasts). This includes using direct mail campaigns, such as with a graphics-rich postcard, to stir up interest in a monthly online webinar, to demonstrate to their prospects how they can increase their business, market share and profits. An analog-digital win-win!

Digital is the future, but paper still plays a significant role in today’s marketing and communications campaigns. 

Share your thoughts on the digital/paper divide – does print still have value? 

By Keir Bonine, Senior Consultant