For the last several years, companies spent most of their time and budgets focusing on digital communication channels. In a rush to exploit social networks and the latest messaging platforms, business communicators stopped exploiting printed materials as principal drivers for customer interaction. Recently, they have begun exploring ways to add print back into the communications mix.
Printed communications cost more-nobody is disputing that fact. But saturation in those digital channels and the ability for prospects to filter or ignore messages is making it more challenging to get results. Business leaders now acknowledge that printed materials can work hand-in-hand with digital channels and play a crucial role in helping organizations reach and influence their audiences.
Dealing with Message Clutter
Digital message management is an issue for many people. Businesses have gotten good at automating the creation and distribution of content. Unfortunately, their dispatches are buried in the onslaught of communications coming at people from everywhere. Marketers have realized they must send more messages to make sure customers see them amidst the clutter. This practice makes the problem worse.
In contrast, well-designed printed documents stand out. Marketers don’t find it necessary to overwhelm consumers with high volumes of messages to get their attention. Response rates for direct mail outpace all the digital channels combined. The 2018 ANA/DMA Response Rate Report lists direct mail’s response rate at 9% for house lists. Email, paid search, online display, and social media are each measured at 1% or less.
The Radicati Group reports email volume at 269 billion per day, with volumes growing by over 4% per year! Overloaded office workers see 121 new emails in their inboxes every day. At those rates, a good number of emails will never be opened. Conversely, analysis of the USPS Household Diary Study shows households received an average of only 10 mail pieces per week. Without the overwhelming clutter of digital messaging, mailed communications have a much better chance of being seen and opened.
Once an organization has established a customer relationship, they may choose to conduct the bulk of communications online, but often the best place to begin those relationships is with print. Print encounters no barriers between senders and receivers. There are no spam filters, ad blockers, or junk folders to prevent communications from reaching the intended individuals.
Print Can Be High Tech
Just because an organization communicates via print, doesn’t mean the message can’t interact with today’s tech-everywhere environment. Printed applications are now using technologies such as near-field communication (NFC) and augmented reality (AR), allowing individuals to interact with print in a whole new way.
Easily implemented but just as powerful are techniques such as quick response (QR) codes, text to engage, and personalized URL’s. These tactics connect printed materials to digital assets such as landing pages, videos, contests, or shopping sites.
Savvy marketers are finding new ways to use print as a gateway to interactive digital experiences. The possibilities for exploiting the unique benefits of printed material to start and nurture omni-channel relationships are endless. Global marketing agency Merkle says marketing campaigns using direct mail plus digital media experienced a 118% improvement in response rate compared to using direct mail only. Printed communications are a great way to begin relationships that continue electronically.
Talk to printing professionals for ideas about how adding print back into your communications strategy can improve the performance in all channels and help you achieve your objectives. Rediscover print and learn how it can boost your digital communications performance. A change in how you leverage the power of print could be the best move to make this year.