Why Print Remains an Effective Marketing Channel for 2018 and Beyond

January is here, and the experts have made their 2018 predictions for the next big trends in marketing. Artificial intelligence, voice search, and augmented reality share many of the top spots, but if you’re like me, you haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate these strategies into your marketing plan. Don’t panic quite yet.

While many marketers are chasing after the latest and greatest technologies, one of the most effective marketing channels has been right under our nose. That’s right; I’m talking about print. I know it may not be as flashy as artificial intelligence, but it does have a strong track record of delivering positive return on investment.

But we’ve all heard that print is dead, right? Wrong. In fact, research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that print usage has remained steady among marketers. Several industries which saw a decrease in sales after moving to a digital-only strategy are now turning back to printed catalogs and other direct mail promotions.

So let’s make one thing clear: print is still an important part of marketing and it will always be around. Technology hasn’t replaced print, it’s made print better. It’s given us the ability to create unique experiences with techniques like dynamic personalization and fully automate the distribution of important customer communications. These days print can no longer be dismissed as old school or junk mail.  

So that brings us to the big question, is print still effective? The answer is absolutely 100% YES. Here are seven reasons why print will remain an effective marketing channel in 2018 and beyond.  

  1. Print has a Longer Lifespan than Digital
    Inboxes are crowded, and email has become noise that we tend to tune out. Digitaldoughnut.com recently reported that the average lifespan of an email is now just 2 seconds and only 44% of people can recall a brand from email vs. 75% from direct mail. Also, 48% of people retain mail for future reference or because the print piece was unique enough to catch their attention, which doesn’t often happen with email.
  2. Print has one of the Highest Return on Investments
    Nearly 60 percent of chief marketing officers agree that print marketing is a useful channel. Why? Because it works. According to the DMA, direct mail has nearly 5x the response rate of the next closest marketing channel and generates the 3rd highest return on investment.

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  3. You Control the Message and Design with Print
    Unlike search and social media, where marketers are at the mercy of continuously evolving algorithms, you can control exactly what customers get with print. Sure there are some best practices when it comes to designing for print, but for the most part, marketers get to steer the ship. You decide on the amount of space you need, the format, how you want to distribute it, colors, substrates, and more. With print the options are endless and you get to play by your own rules.
  4. Consumers Prefer to Read in Print
    73% of US consumers say they prefer brands to communicate with them through direct mail because they can read it at their convenience. And when it comes to reading preferences and how we consume information, 79% of people say they prefer to read on paper vs. screen. So why wouldn’t marketers cater to their audience’s desire for print?
  5. Print is Highly Personal
    Print offers the same personalization options as digital channels if you take advantage of the right solutions. Variable data and print-on-demand solutions allow marketers to create a highly personal and contextual message along with unique designs through dynamic personalization.

    Tactics-Mosaic-1.jpgOur Sept/Oct Issue of Tactics used HP Mosaic software for
    dynamic personalization on the cover. Click to learn more!

  6. Print is Versatile
    Print can be used for just about any type of campaign and at any stage of the buyer journey. It's an excellent channel for lead generation and nurturing, as well as customer appreciation, employee training, and more. And because print is tangible—and often takes more time and effort to produce—consumers tend to place a higher value in the message.
  7. Consumers Get, Read and Act on Print
    According to the USPS, 98% of people check their mail on a daily basis. More importantly, InfoTrends reports that 66% of direct mail is opened and nearly two-thirds of people make a purchase because of direct mail according to the DMA. Compare that to all of the hundreds of unopened emails you probably have sitting in your inbox right now.

As marketers, we’re always trying to keep up with the latest trends but sometimes going back to basics can yield big benefits. This year, consider adding print back into your marketing mix or making more out of your investment with smarter and more efficient print programs. If you’re ready to start, we can help.

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Michelle Cardin

Michelle Cardin leads Shawmut’s creative team in developing print, direct mail, and digital marketing campaigns. Some of our work includes projects for Dell EMC, Boston College, athenahealth, Insulet, and OBP Medical. She is an experienced marketer and copywriter who enjoys helping clients solve communication challenges and create successful marketing campaigns.

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