ThinkOTB Agency

Is print marketing dead?

December 22, 2021

Digital marketing is cheap, measurable and instantly controllable, so why would marketers and marketing agencies turn to print? At ThinkOTB we believe print marketing is still a highly effective part of the marketing mix. You’ve just got to be sure you’re using it in the right way and at the right time.

The Covid effect

The pandemic changed marketing overnight. Suddenly there were no commuters to engage with billboards and tube station ads, no shoppers to stop in their tracks with POS and in-store leaflets. Marketing was most effective in the home – as more people than ever were working from there. As a result, media that reaches people in their homes became king – with social media and television at the forefront (Sky and Amazon branded smart TVs).

But as bingeing-watching and scrolling became boring, print marketing got more engaging. According to MarketReach, part of the Royal Mail Group, “During the first lockdown, a record 96% of mail was engaged with. Frequency of exposure to mail was at its highest, and online behaviour driven by mail, increased by 70%”. What’s more, the biggest rise in engagement came from people aged 18 – 34.

The future of print

The cynical marketer will see print popularity as a Covid trend, which will phase out if life returns to ‘normal’. However, print marketing is the punch that your key campaigns need to break through the digital marketing noise. Just like digital marketing, print can be highly targeted, achieves strong conversion rates and has the impact to build lasting impressions in consumer’s memories. A beautiful brochure printed on thick stock with incredible images and a wonderful story to tell makes a lasting brand statement when it lands on the door mat.

3 reasons why print marketing can be a key part of your marketing mix:

1. CRM integration

With 76% of UK adults opening all or most of their direct mail, it clearly remains a highly effective channel and can be automated and integrated with CRM systems for fast, efficient targeting. 87% of people describe mail as “believable” and is the second most trusted channel with Gen Z after Search. Marketers can maximise print targeting by incorporating the latest data on audiences into CRM systems, so the right person receives the right message at the right time!

2. Great interactivity

Newspaper and magazine ads have evolved and stay relevant. They now work alongside or in combination with digital channels to enable brands to cut through the noise. Marketers can now apply mobile image recognition to make traditional media shoppable and interactive. Media owners and brands can now seamlessly connect offline media with digital. By taking a photo, this ‘Visual Commerce’ can be used across all forms of print media including product packaging and Direct Mail and makes a printed item ‘shoppable’ without adding QR codes or changing the creative.

3. Building valuable relationships

The way we consume media, and the way brands build trust and drive customer action, has changed. Print marketing can deliver more focused attention and a creatively designed piece of mail with a strong call to action will make people curious and strengthen brand building. 70% of respondents in research said that mail makes them feel more valued and it’s never been more important to build relationships with your customers. It’s about taking your top-performing digital pieces (e.g. blog posts) and editing them for print publication. Reading brand promises in writing is stronger than seeing them for 10 seconds while tapping an app.

Marketers can build on this with personalised mail messages, that have an intrinsic value and will create a really strong connection between the customer and the brand. No one is saying digital channels aren’t vital for businesses. But. as consumers become more savvy a brand’s marketing needs to be consistent across any channel your consumers choose to use.

Show your authenticity

It’s worth remembering that when printing, you need to ensure you find an authentic way to show your sustainability credentials either in the use of packaging or how communications are executed through recyclable print. A BBC Global News report found 81% of consumers agree that demonstrating clear commitment to sustainability adds value to a brand. The UK’s Advertising Association recently launched the Ad Net Zero initiative. It has aims of reducing UK advertising’s carbon impact to real net zero by 2030.

Change is a constant and consumers continue to become more savvy with higher expectations of brands. It’s a given that they expect to receive relevant marketing to the channel that best suits them and they will move from online to print to online and back again!

Marketers and agencies are valued for their ability to flex and respond at speed to shifting trends and behaviours. More than ever, it’s important to deliver marketing across the channels that best suit your audience. As print is most definitely not dead, why not see if print marketing can punch through your digital marketing? Talk to the ThinkOTB team.