As the VP of Marketing for print communications solutions provider, Universal Wilde, I focus on uncovering the latest techniques, tips, and perspectives about the latest print communications trends and it's role in omni-channel marketing. It's been said in recent years that print is dead, but I'm here to rally around the fact that it isn't! In my discussions with industry peers, experts and evangelists, they all say that print isn't dead, but rather has become smarter in order to compete in the digital age.
Here are 5 print communications strategies that reinforce the notion that print is not only alive, but is more innovative than ever before; helping drive differentiation, engagement, and delivering strong results for marketers.
1) Direct Mail as a specialty experience
We know that print volume is declining, but this can be good news for marketers who want to use print to stand out. Daniel Dejan, etc Print & Creative Manager Sappi North America, said at our January Innovation Event that "print is evolving from a commodity to a higher quality and specialty experience" for several reasons:
- It is more memorable because it is tactile, and more than one-half of our brain is wired for touch. We place a higher value on things you can touch, which can translate into positive feelings about your brand
- It is more trustworthy, and allows for deeper messaging and storytelling which is immersive (and more memorable)
- Millennials, in particular, find direct mail intriguing because they don't receive much mail (see our recent blog on this topic)
Consumers prefer direct mail over email across all verticals, from financial services and insurance to retail and personal care. And, surprisingly, print books are still more popular than ebooks. According to David Murphy, Worldwide Director of Marketing & Business Development - HP PageWide Industrial Division, e-books today represent about 20 percent of the overall market, with paper books representing the other 80 percent.
Publishers are now offering both print and digital options for readers to meet their preferences, but are also creating magazines in increasing numbers based on higher reader engagement due to the full-color quality and valuable content they provide. They have made them cool again! In fact, magazines are ranked #1 in purchase intent, according to a Hearst-sponsored research study. Here's a magazine cover for one of our clients, North of Boston Media Group:
2) Add print to a multi-channel campaign to achieve a higher ROI
Adding direct mail to your marketing campaign increases ROI by 20% on average, according to a study by Brand Science. I was asked to provide my perspectives on using direct mail as part of a multi-channel strategy in an article by Beth Negus Viveiros of Chief Marketer, titled 7 Tips for Better Direct Mail. One of the tips I shared in this article is an email warm up alerting recipients to a direct mail piece can work very well to achieve increased response and engagement, particularly if it is a high-impact, highly personalized direct mail. An example of this is a Nationwide Financial Services campaign we designed to winback financial advisors. A personalized email announcing that a gift was coming in the mail from the Nationwide wholesaler was sent just prior to the gift. The direct mail was a clutterbuster box mailing containing a personalized New Yorker cartoon appealing to the ego of the recipient, and promoting Nationwide's new products. This campaign drove in more than $80 million in sales from these hard-to-move advisors.
3) New print techniques engage recipients
Print technology has made great strides in recent years to leverage the tactile nature of this medium. Varnishes, finishes (such as rough, smooth, soft touches), flourescents, die cuts, pop ups, and UV inks (rubbery, sandpaper, lenticular, emboss, deboss, and scent!) all enhance the appearance and experience of paper, protect the surface of the printed sheet and bring a WOW factor. Here's a do-it-yourself fold direct mail piece from USPS' Irresistible Mail which is very engaging and involving:
4) Highly targeted, personalized direct mail provides multiple benefits
Print provides the ability to hyper-target your message, which is most effective for high-value products/services. With the introduction and increased adoption of variable data print technology innovations, marketers can cost effectively produce highly personalized, full color print communications. New innovations include larger sized sheets, higher quality print and color matching, and more format and technique options. Digital print is on demand, so smaller quantities can be produced efficiently and quickly since there is minimal set up. It also removes the need for inventory and increases control for version/compliance needs.
And through marketing automation such as self-service portals, data and creative content are leveraged to deliver data-driven, personalized communications in a seamless fashion.
5) Marry print with digital technology to enhance the customer experience
QR (Quick Response) codes are making a come back as they are now easier to integrate because of innovations such as the iphone embedded QR reader, and technology advances in general. AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) provide for unique experiences through combining offline and online channels through apps and wearables. You are probably familiar with the IKEA virtual reality app. We produced a VR-enabled campaign for Canon Solutions using an Account-based Marketing strategy for their suite of digital printers. The campaign featured email, high-impact dimensional direct mail, the promise of a VR headset as a gift for setting up a meeting, with a VR video. The campaign garnered their highest response ever at 40%! Here's a brochure spread featuring the VR headset:
Check back for more news and perspectives, and case studies, on print innovations in this blog.
Lianne Wade is VP Marketing at Universal Wilde, helping marketers achieve increased effectiveness by guiding them to data-driven, personalized communications solutions. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more news and insights. You can email Lianne at email@example.com.