3 ways you can combine print and digital marketing campaigns

Digital marketing is now becoming the norm, but that doesn't mean traditional print marketing methods are no longer effective. Here's how you can make them work hand in hand.

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While digital marketing is clearly the wave of the future, don’t start believing that print marketing is dead. For savvy companies, the key is to find opportunities to merge print and digital efforts for a cohesive brand experience.

Print marketing is alive and well

As marketing has clearly shifted to digital, there’s been a lot of conversation regarding print marketing’s legacy. In other words, where does it go from here? And while digital marketing has certainly taken center stage, it’s a bit premature to be discussing the legacy of print marketing. As we enter the New Year, print still deserves a place in your overall marketing strategy and individual campaigns.

For proof of this, take a look at the CMI annual report from 2015. The numbers show that the top three B2B paid advertising methods are as follows: search engine marketing (66 percent), print or other offline promotion (57 percent), and traditional online banner ads (55 percent).

There you have it. Right between two digital methods, you’ll find that the second most popular paid advertising vehicle for B2B companies is some form of print or offline promotion. While that doesn’t necessarily mean print marketing is thriving, it does show that print marketing has a role to play in complementing and maximizing digital marketing efforts moving forward.

For even more proof of the vitality of print marketing, let’s review a few statistics on direct mail from the 2016 DMA Statistical Fact Book:

  • 2.5 billion coupons were redeemed by customers in 2015.
  • More than 10.6 million print catalogs were mailed in 2015.
  • While direct mail volume is declining, spend is still up roughly 1.9 percent year-over-year since 2005.

“Direct mail continues to serve as a key driver in most omnichannel marketing plans,” expert Lois Brayfield explains in the DMA Statistical Fact Book. “It’s complemented well by online efforts, and fills a much-needed niche. Where online is generally low-cost, low impact, print is higher-cost, higher impact. Where online marketing is passive, direct mail is active. Direct mailings are proactive and tactile — demanding that the recipient DO something with it.”

We’ll discuss direct mailings in a little more detail later on — and it’s important to note that this is just one aspect of print marketing — but this goes to show that large, successful organizations are still relying on print marketing and using it to complement and empower their digital efforts (and vice versa).

3 ways to merge print with digital

The vast majority of companies don’t combine their online and offline marketing campaigns because they don’t really know where to start. If this is true in your case, and you’re looking for some ideas regarding the best intersection points to begin merging digital and print marketing, look no further than the following three suggestions:

1. Use digital opt-ins for direct mailings

There’s so much back and forth between digital media and direct mailings. By learning how to maximize these interchanges, you can elevate the return from both ends.

Take print catalogs as an example. Everyone loves getting catalogs in the mail from brands that they shop with. While the information contained in the catalog is more than likely available online, there’s something about holding a colorful and vibrant magazine in your hands and physically turning the pages that seems more meaningful.

The good news is that catalog printing is quite affordable. The second positive is that you can kill two birds with one stone by getting people to opt-in to receive your direct mail catalog through a digital campaign and then use the predictability of direct mail to drive other aspects of your online campaign. As Brayfield points out, direct mail is one of the most measurable forms of media, giving any campaign a much-needed jolt in terms of the quality of analytics.

“An omnichannel marketer knows when mail is arriving and can use this knowledge to activate other touch points like email and telemarketing,” Brayfield says. “It’s direct mail that anchors the campaign and drives the support tactics that can boost the overall effectiveness of an omnichannel effort.”

2. Use QR codes and personalized URLs

QR codes promised a lot when they were first introduced, but honestly, haven’t lived up to the hype. And while QR codes may not make a successful campaign on their own, they — along with personalized URLs — can complement some specific campaign goals.

The beauty of QR codes and personalized URLs is that they allow you to gain actionable insights into who your customers are and where they’re engaging with your print materials. It also allows you to bridge the divide between offline and online by encouraging offline customers to visit your website/landing page/social media profiles/etc.

3. Combine social media and in-store displays

In-person events are big for brick and mortar businesses, as well as any brand with a physical presence. During these events, you can obviously distribute print materials and engage in one-on-one conversations that build brand equity, but you should also be identifying opportunities to bring some of these offline customers online.

One of the more natural ways to do this is by combining social media and in-person displays. For example, let’s say you have a booth at an industry event. Inside your booth, you could feature a touch screen kiosk that encourages people to follow you on Facebook or Twitter in return for the chance to win a grand prize.

By getting them to sign up right then and there, you increase the likelihood that they’ll build a strong connection with your brand. It also gives you valuable insights into who is signing up and what drives their connection with your brand.

Develop a balanced marketing strategy

Successful marketing in 2017 and beyond requires strategic balance. Today’s customers interact with dozens of mediums on a daily basis. Your goal, as a brand, should be to meet them at as many of these points as possible. Some will be online and others will be offline. Learning to develop effective marketing messages that maintain consistency, regardless of whether the medium is digital or print, is a skill that will take you far.

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