Companies are generally using digital marketing more often than traditional print formats these days, but the conventional method still has plenty of value for those who are willing to devote the time to producing it. In fact, studies show that millennials, typically considered the target demographic due to their large numbers and spending capital, don't have any strong preference toward either print or online marketing, and that distributing both types of content is the best way to create a lasting effect that will spur sales. Even digital experts, like CEO and co-founder of Econsultancy Ashley Friedlein, recognize the power that physical paper holds in comparison to its electronic counterparts.
Direct mail: a welcome change-of-pace for consumers and marketers alike
Friedlein conducted a little experiment through Econsultancy. He sent letters, in print, to over 2,000 prospective LinkedIn connections and included a custom URL for the recipients to visit. The response to this unusual practice was largely positive, with several marketing directors and other higher-ups expressing their appreciation for the paper format. Since distributing the letters, Friedlein has seen a response rate of about 9.4 percent, with 56 percent of views to the custom URL coming within two days of distribution. He garnered 156 new LinkedIn connections, and therefore 156 potential new clients, employees and business partners, through this process, which amounts to a 7.8 percent conversion rate. Print marketing, clearly, can be an effective tool for even purely online companies.
Emarketer corroborated this sentiment, citing research conducted by Harris Interactive that found 18 to 34-year-olds were more likely to ignore online ads than they were traditional marketing platforms like TV, radio and print. Banners that line websites and social media apps are so common and distracting that the majority of those polled said they didn't even look at them ordinarily. However, only about 31 percent of males and 36 percent of females within the age bracket said that they were likely to ignore a print advertisement. Emarketer also referenced a study by Adroit Digital that revealed a statistic many might not think would be true: only 36 percent of millennials believe that digital ads are more effective than traditional ads. The remaining 64 percent was broken down in the following ways: 28 percent said the two formats are equally effective, while 19 percent said traditional ads are more effective than digital, and 17 percent opined that ads are most effective when used in a multimedia form.
How to maximize your marketing strategies through the use of print
Jackie Phillips, vice president of creative services for NCET, offered some simple yet pertinent suggestions regarding the best strategies for employing print marketing in a piece for the Reno Gazette-Journal. First, she says, it's important to target specific audiences and appeal to them based on demographic preferences and interests. Creating unique content for different groups of people is one way that print marketing can stand out from the digital swarm of mass emails and website border ads, so it's important to make an impact with various targets.
Friedlein found this to be true in his experiment – recipients are more prone to appreciate the perceived effort used to appeal to individual groups, as opposed to a wide, mainstream audience. He also noted that using direct mail or other print marketing can lead the audience to further information in a digital format – for example, his LinkedIn adding spree, or including URLs to the company website or social media, where potential costumers can stay connected with the business.
Phillips also advised not to go overboard in the design process for print materials. The format should be simple, aesthetically pleasing and engaging, but the focus should be on the actual content – that is, the message you intend to send. If your message is strong, clear and well-worded the marketing effort will be more effective and will likely see a higher rate of ROI.
What to expect in terms of print marketing ROI
While you might not feel the impact of your print initiative immediately, the audience should produce a number of consumers eventually. Friedlein admitted that it's probably impossible to quantify the average ROI of each individual LinkedIn connection garnered from marketing campaigns. However, he also said that a single customer can repay the investment you make by continuing to grow your brand and reach other potential clients.
Print marketing certainly isn't as easy and mindless as its digital counterpart is. This means it will take additional time and money to produce content that is amenable to the targeted audience. But what companies that are dropping paper-based campaigns are ignoring is that it's easy to get swallowed up in the vast array of digital advertisements that are thrown at Internet users every single time they go online. Print publications are more tantalizing and attention-grabbing, if produced in an effective way, and your company can really stand out against competitors through the use of traditional marketing.