What is the role of print in a digital world?

Role of print in a digital world

In a world of tweets, Facebook posts, email and Google ads, what is the role of print?

It’s easy to think that digital is the ‘be all and end all’ of marketing.  Most marketers are now using inbound marketing (content marketing, blogs, SEO, social media and opt-in email) as their main route to market. And there’s good reason to. Consumers nowadays go through most of the buying cycle without even talking to a salesperson, preferring to do their research online.

But for generations of customers, printed material has played a major part in their decisions to buy.  It provides the information needed to make an informed choice.  Therefore should you be ignoring the power of print?

What is the role of print in 2017 and beyond?


The good news for the print sector is that print remains a strong communications tool. Nothing compares in creating a long-lasting impression and convincing us to part with our cash. Whilst a tweet is forgotten in seconds a beautiful piece of printed material is timeless.

“The digital print industry is set to grow to £266bn by 2024”

According to Stephen Brown, Chief Innovation Officer at Cookerly Public Relations: “A great printed piece is one you want to spend time with. It has more value and permanence. When it is passed on to others, it is a sure sign that the content is quality.”

Brown goes on to say that postcards are one of the staples of Cookerly’s public relations strategies. For events, they are still a great way to cut through the clutter and are very helpful when timeliness is a factor.

Falling costs of print


Whilst some businesses worry that they’ll seem old-fashioned by using print or that the cost is prohibitive, the costs of printing have fallen.  The rise of digital printing has facilitated the ability to carry out small, targeted on-demand print runs.

This is a welcome departure from the days of mass offset printing when print had to be produced in large volumes to achieve any type of cost efficiency.

Print & digital in perfect harmony


Print and digital channels complement each other in the same way that online shops add value to a high street store. It’s not about replacing one channel with another. Each channel is an important part of the mix.  The key to success is to develop an integrated multi-channel marketing campaign.

Direct Mail ROI on the up


Direct Mail is experiencing record highs in response rates, with targeted direct mail boasting a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%.

“Four-fifths (79%) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with email straightaway.”

As our Print Production Manager, Simon, says: “We’re seeing direct mail campaigns becoming more targeted through print personalisation. Companies are using hand-picked special offers, geographic targeting and behavioural targeting. We can personalise any element of the creative beyond names such as images, colour and voucher codes. The more individualised a direct mail piece is, the higher the response and ROI.”

“ExactTarget found that 65% of consumers purchased a product or service after receiving direct mail.  Only 20% made a purchase after receiving a message delivered via Facebook, and only 16% after a mobile marketing message.”

Resurgence of glossy mags


Print offers a powerful, vibrant way to speak to an audience. That is why brands like Net-a-Porter, ASOS and Red Bull have all launched print magazines to reach their customers.

Air B&Bs ad-free magazine, called Pineapple, is a thick glossy magazine pulled straight from the golden age of magazines. According to the mag’s website, Pineapple is a “crossroad of travel and anthropology; a document of a community, belonging and shared space.”

The aim of the magazine is to build a community under the Airbnb banner, creating strong brand associations between the online brand and great adventures.

As Lance Hiley of the Marketing Centre, states in his article, do glossy brochures still work? “Consumers and businesses now use brochures for more ‘considered’ purchases, such as cars or furniture. Every other smaller purchase is likely to be supported by online content, reviews and comparisons.”

“And whereas a customer would once have toured a number of shops, picking up brochures to look through back at home, the likelihood now is that they will do their research online first and then seek out brochures from just a couple of shortlisted businesses from which to potentially buy.”

It’s safe to say that print and digital will always co-exist together. There’s a definite need for print campaigns in all shapes and sizes and we’ll be here to help with your print needs for many years to come.