The digital landscape is a constantly shifting one and the reliability and efficacy of any one platform or strategy can never really be taken for granted. From SEO to social media marketing we’ve seen a raft of new platforms and new approaches emerge, with emphases constantly shifting from one tactic to another. These shifts are often related to the evolution of these platforms, the rapid emergence of new ones, as well as Google’s dreaded algorithm updates.

Print marketing on the other hand has been around for a lot longer (centuries, in one guise or another) and despite some digital marketers’ claims to the contrary, print is not dead. Far from it in fact, with studies estimating that print still a significant chunk of overall marketing spend, coming in behind TV ($78.8bn) and digital ($52.8bn) in the US in 2015 at $27.9bn.

A versatile marketing strategy

A marketing strategy that chooses to focus solely on digital, at the expense of your print marketing budget, is potentially missing out some huge cross-media benefits. In some circumstances people will appreciate that your brand is active on social media, but at other times they might crave the tangible glossy feel of a printed advert or the personal touch of a piece of direct mail. In other words, it’s not just about having a presence in digital or print, but having a presence that is versatile and spans media.

The problem with running side by side print and digital marketing campaigns is that they often end up working in silos instead of together. Fusing isn’t always easy, but getting it right can boost the reach and efficiency of your entire marketing campaign.

Strategies for Success

Such is the dominance of digital marketing these days, many companies may not even have an existing print marketing strategy. This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing in new talent. Most web designers have all the requisite skills required to make the transition from digital to print marketing, with a little bit of practice and guidance. If you don’t have any designers in-house then there are plenty of design agencies out there that will specialise in both print and digital marketing.

Below are three fundamentals to help you maximise both marketing media channels:

  • Cross pollination
Cross pollination is the practice of promoting one media channel through another. This is a fundamental tactic of any multi-channel marketing campaign as it allows you to play to the strengths of both print and digital media. The success of cross pollinating across channels is dependent on an understanding of audience behaviour and where each marketing approach fits in your sales funnel. In other words, a billboard campaign might have a wide reach but a low conversion rate, whereas a social media campaign aimed at your followers will have a far lower reach but a much higher conversion rate. Cross pollination would work to leverage the former approach to bolster and promote the latter.
  • Use CTAs across media
Most print media is passive in that it doesn’t require any action from the audience. Think of a full page magazine advert, a billboard or a promotional leaflet or postcard delivered through your door. The objective of these campaigns is to raise awareness and disseminate information about your company and its products or services. Digital media on the other hand tends to be active, meaning it requires audience action. By incorporating calls-to-action (CTA) in your print media that directs people to your digital platforms, you can encourage cross pollination and audience engagement across channels. This could be a competition on social media or a free whitepaper or promotion only available by visiting your website and entering a special code found on your printed material. The idea here is to encourage people to jump from one channel to the other.
  • Track media crossover
It’s all well and good having a joined up marketing strategy that utilises both print and digital channels but you need to be able to track success through reliable data and metrics. While most digital platforms produce reliable analytics on audience behaviour, the problem lies in tracking your customers’ journey between platforms and media. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet to this problem and tracking between digital platforms can be hard enough. Using QR codes is one way you can bridge this gap, allowing you to gather data on users interacting with various print media on their smartphones. Another method is to just constantly seek feedback. By incentivising and encouraging audience interaction at every point in the sales funnel you can more accurately track the customer journey, from printed mail drop, to social media interaction, through to website browsing and finally conversion and sale.

Printed and digital media have different things going for them and both can be effective with different people at different stages in the sales funnel. Understanding how best to link them up, won’t just see you reap the benefits of both approaches; it will help you create a unified multi-channel marketing presence that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

By Chris Holloway, Managing Director of Manor Printing