Lead nurturing. Content marketing. Marketing automation. Inbound marketing. Social media. One-to-one marketing. Cross channel marketing. Mobile engagement. These are just a few of the terms we’re being bombarded with in marketing blogs and in pitches from the latest marketing software platforms. It’s enough to make your head swim. And, from all the talk, it would be easy to assume that marketing today is purely an online, digital venture.
Where, then, does print fit in? Or does it fit in at all anymore?
Guess what? Print still very much fits in, as one of many supporting players in your marketing mix. And with today’s technology, it’s actually easy to incorporate print into a cross channel marketing campaign that targets each prospect personally. Learn more in this week’s ZUZA Marketer’s Blog post.
“Print is dead. Long live print.”
OK, we won’t rehash the “rumors of print’s death are greatly exaggerated” speech again. By now, we all now that print is still very much alive. Just check your mailbox and you’ll still be greeted by a menagerie of promotional postcards, letters and catalogs. Or walk into a car dealership, and notice the racks of slick, beautifully designed car brochures with breathtaking photography that make even the most economical car look like a glamorous supercar.
The fact is, as humans, while we love checking email and social feeds on our mobile phones, we still also love holding sumptuous print in our hands. The tactile allure of a cradling a book, the velvety feel of richly-coated stock in a brochure, the way photography seems to just pop more on the right paper, the ability to easily read two-page spreads without having to pinch-to-zoom and zig-zag around with our fingers on a touch screen, or, just the convenience of being able to read something without having to recharge its battery – for these reasons and more, we still love a medium that is roughly two-thousand years old (with modern printing itself being 575 years old – thank you, Johannes Gutenberg).
But can print be as useful in a cross channel digital campaign? Or, stated another way, how can print possibly be incorporated synergistically into a personalized campaign of emails, landing pages, text messages, social media messages and ad words?
Marketing Automation Evolves
Marketing automation platforms excel at enabling personalized email campaigns that drive people to web pages with conversion forms, helping us marketers track, qualify, nurture and sell to prospects. They also integrate well with pay-per-click campaigns that drive traffic to web pages. With the transition to mobile as the primary way to consume online content, marketing automation platforms have followed suit, enabling emails and web pages that fit nicely in small phone screens while still looking great on desktop monitors. As the technology has further evolved, marketing automation platforms have grown to include sending personalized SMS text messages and social media messages too. Throughout, these platforms have focused on digital campaigns.
As a result, print campaigns and digital campaigns have lived separate lives. While marketers have been enjoying the insane trackability that digital campaigns allow, print campaigns have been relegated to the traditional “spray and pray” model, with marketers hoping that their mailing lists are at least somewhat accurate and consoling themselves with 1-3% response rates.
The next big step then in the evolution of marketing automation is to be able to include personalized print communications in cross channel campaigns as easily as including digital communications, with the same level of trackability.
With digital, tracking is easy. Every time a prospect clicks a link in an email, website or direct social message, or responds to an SMS, a marketing automation platform can track it and report back to you. Each prospect receives a personalized way to respond – a link or code – which uniquely identifies the behavior of that individual. This completely takes the guesswork out of campaign tracking for digital communications.
But with print, you need a way to provide the same personalized way to respond. Until recently, this wasn’t feasible. But emerging technology is allowing marketing automation platforms to integrate with print providers to produce printed communications with PURLS – Personalized URLs. This means that each recipient gets his or her own personal web link on a postcard or in a letter, and upon entering that URL into a web browser (or scanning a QR code with the same link) is taken to a personalized web page just for that individual. The marketing automation platform can track a visit to this web page as easily as any clicked URL or texted code from a digital communication.
Now there’s nothing stopping you from giving your prospects another way to hear from you within a coordinated cross channel campaign!
When To Include Print
Print typically costs a lot more per prospect to produce than digital communications. But it can also be a lot more effective, amply justifying its higher cost.
So, when does it make sense to include it? The answer will depend on the demographics and preferences of your target market of course. Some marketing personas are more likely to respond to a print communication than a digital one. And in general, with so much email going to spam these days, a print piece can have a much better chance of breaking through the clutter than an email, as well as being read and acted upon. It can have the same advantages over social media messages, text messages and pay-per-click ads.
In many cases, you may find that print and digital reinforce each other, and, if for some reason an email, social media post or pay-per-click ad doesn’t get through to a prospect, it just may be that well-designed postcard or thoughtfully crafted letter that does.
As with any type of campaign, you’ll want to first really understand the habits and preferences of your target prospects, and then conduct tests of different media and creative approaches to see which combinations of print and digital work the best for you.
A little help please?
At ZUZA, we offer a complete cross channel marketing service based on marketing automation that integrates print and digital, just as we’ve described above. We also do all of our own print production and postal mailing along with building, sending and tracking digital communications. It’s an end-to-end solution that is seamlessly integrated. As a result, we’ve garnered a fair amount of experience conducting these types of campaigns. So if you’d like to discuss how you can successfully combine print and digital in your marketing, we’ve be happy to share what we’ve learned with you. Feel free to give us a call at 800.350.9411 or fill out the contact form below to request a call.
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.