Print and Digital: Don’t Replace—Integrate

Today’s marketing environment is loud. It’s busy. It can numb the senses. That’s why it is more important than ever to integrate both digital and print media. Digital and print media reinforce one another. The reinforcement helps you break through the clutter and be heard.

But be careful. Integration doesn’t mean interchangeable, as one new survey shows. Consumers still want a choice.

A new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by Toluna reveals that U.S. consumers are unhappy with corporate initiatives forcing them into digital-only communication and eliminating paper-based options. Many of the questions related to bills and statements, but the results apply to marketing communications, too.

Consumers want to be able to choose whether to receive paper bills and statements, and they don’t want to have to pay extra to do it.  For example, 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information to provide a “more permanent” record, 77% would be unhappy if they were asked to pay a premium for paper bills and statements, and more than three-quarters (79%) felt that paper options were easier to read compared to screens.

There is also suspicion about the motives of companies forcing their customers to go paperless. Overwhelmingly (85%), consumers agreed that cost savings is the main reason companies use claims such as “Go Paperless—Go Green” or “Go Paperless—Save Trees.” More than half (57%) question the truthfulness of such claims.

So use digital and print-based communications wisely. Email makes sense when you need to touch base quickly, such as sending company news, alerting customers to a flash sale, or offering reminders. But don’t ask email to do more than it is designed to do. Give customers a choice, and use print where digital communications are not as strong.

For example, print remains critical for . . .

  • In-depth communications
  • Contacts that contain highly personal information
  • Mailings that involve brand trust

Studies also show that information is easier for people to understand and recall in print, so use print for “weightier” topics and messages that require attention to detail. If you want to move customers to digital communication, ask first. Don’t make the decision for them.

Does it cost more to send print? Yes, but creating the right match between the channel and the message will reap big benefits.


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