Why print should be part of your marketing strategy

Business Insights

Those who ignore print in favour of digital are missing a trick and doing their customers a great disservice thereby. The most effective marketing campaigns make use of the strengths of both.

As we are all aware, digital offers great advantages in the form of instantaneous access, localization, powerful personalization and targeting, audio and video, and much more, yet science shows paper to be more impactful and memorable than digital.

For example, a study in Norway concluded that, "students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally."

Print has special properties that render it more effective in some respects than digital, because although digital marketing promises greater reach and cost effectiveness, it misses out on many of the attributes that only print can provide.

We are now so used to digital marketing that unless something particularly grabs our attention we tend to simply swipe past it and ignore it, despite the current plethora of dramatic headlines that we have also learnt to ignore. The excitement that attended the early days of digital marketing when consumers looked forward to opening their emails and web browsers has passed, consumers are now more likely to be irritated by the sheer volume of media advertising, be it by direct email, pop ups from tracking your browsing habits or on social media. Just think how quickly you hit delete on an unwanted email?

Print seriously punches above its weight in a world where digital is fleeting and so often vacuous in nature, with numerous statistics showing that consumers are more engaged when reading printed material; websites can be scanned in about 15 seconds and then ignored, but print stays around.

Screen-based reading behaviour tends to be characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selectively, while less time is spent on in-depth reading, and concentrated reading.

Most ads are designed to avoid any hint of information overload, but sometimes a B2B sales effort may involve conveying much more information to ensure the customer’s needs are met. Providing this information in paper format increases the customer's comprehension and recall. Lengthy information is more readily consumed when it’s in a person’s hands, as opposed to sending several PDF attachments that can be lost in an archive for “later reading.”

Printed pieces give consumers a sense of credibility and of your brand identity, rather than the dozens of annoying pop-ups and banner ads which we experience on any given day. Marketing Sherpa reports that 82% of Internet users say they trust print ads when making purchasing decisions, making print media the most trusted form of advertising. However print can’t do it all on its own, good quality, engaging content is crucial if your customers are to remain interested long enough to understand your offering, and while digital may catch their immediate attention print media allows that space.

In addition, as we all become more aware of cyber security concerns, consumers often fear to click on those types of ads for fear of downloading a virus, whereas there is certainly no danger from opening a print ad.

Print and digital can co-exist, and in fact should, but they need to do different things. To survive, the newspaper and the physical book need to set themselves apart from the web. Physical forms of the written word need to offer a clear and different experience.

"It's simply a matter of defining the different role and purpose of print and online,"

says Sara Cremer, MD at customer communications agency Redwood.
"Print does certain things very well. There's a sense of reward – almost luxury – of devoting time to the printed page that you can't put a price on. But at the same time, there's an immediacy and 'shareability' to the online world that's just as valuable in its own unique way."

Crucially, for Cremer, whose job it is to oversee integrated communication strategies for major clients ranging from M&S and Boots to Land Rover and Barclays, the two often work best when created and used in conjunction with each other.

"It's about consistency,"
she says.
"However many channels you've got [ie in print or online], if you haven't got quality content, you're wasting your money."

As magazines evolve and expand into new forms and channels, it’s reassuring to see that they still provide unmatched quality and relevance and that print still resonates for vast numbers, over 20 million copies of magazines were in circulation in the UK in the last 6 months.

Consumer demand for highly trusted, curated, quality content is still satisfied by magazine brands. To those who still maintain ‘print is dead’, I would ask you to reconsider where you get your news from. I hear magazines are good.