Over the last few years, digital marketing has made its way to the heart of most companies’ marketing strategies. Whether you were won over by the instantaneous nature of social channels, the ‘stickiness’ of video content or the eye-popping possibilities afforded to us by recent advances in VR, chances are print is no longer the most exciting part of your marketing strategy. Which is odd, because it still works.
As recently as mid-2015, the DMA were reporting direct mail response rates were nearly 600% higher than for digital channels, and it’s still pulling ahead of digital channels in this year’s report (heads up: it’s a paid paper). And research by Royal Mail has shown that, regardless of which age group you look at, 26.7% of consumers say that they’ve purchased something as the result of direct mail in the last year.
So why is direct mail still working?
A popular theory is that unlike, say, emails and social media notifications, which some consumers are receiving an almost overwhelming number of, well-crafted print pieces have rarity value. Their very unusualness makes them eye-catching and memorable, meaning your messaging stays front of mind for longer.
And if you combine this with personalisation – one of everyone’s predicted hot trends for 2017, as it leads to a rumoured lift in profits ranging from 31% to 10% depending on who you ask – you can use print to make a lasting impact on your audience.
Even the cost per acquisition, a metric that you’d assume would get increasingly shaky for print as online advertising becomes better targeted, has stayed reasonable thanks to the shift to digital printing and a variable print workflow, which allows greater economy at smaller scales. You can even provide different areas of your organisation with templated documentation that they can personalise for customers and then send to print on an as-needed basis.
This means you can supply customers or groups with uniquely targeted content and still have money left over to invest in other channels, something that’s reflected in the fact that 52% of DMA respondents are now combining at least three channels on any given campaign. A highly personalised print piece can be used to generate initial impact, then transition customers over digital channels such as email and social. It also provides an element of trustworthiness – we’re all more likely to open the brochure of a company we don’t know than click on their pop-up add – that can translate to more ready engagement on the consumer’s part once you’ve moved them to the digital pipeline.
Streamlining print production
While many of us are already cutting print costs by opting for digital over offset printing, it’s also worth bearing in mind that streamlining in-house production can bring down the cost of print media by making things more efficient in-house.
Centralised, accurate data, a streamlined approvals amends process and easy-to-use team management tools all help make things run more smoothly. Seeing them combined with PIM and CRM functionality in tools like MatrixCMS is likely to become increasingly common as we see the demand for content become more immediate and the number of channels content is duplicated to increases. After all, why update your catalogues and web platforms separately when you could drive them both from the same system?