Over the years, businesses have become experts at digital marketing – using their websites and digital assets more effectively to develop leads and drive sales, and increasing their competencies in direct marketing (by email). In fact, email marketing has become so popular – due to its efficiencies at addressing larger and disparate audiences at speed, providing valuable engagement insight, and triggering instant online conversions – that a lot of companies have moved away from traditional outbound marketing mechanisms (including print advertising, direct mail and so on).

Insight: Top Australian companies confirm an annual reduction of 30% (average) in outbound print marketing spend (Pulse, 2018).

The problem as we see it

A negative shift has started to appear in how audiences perceive value in incoming digital communications – particular email – fostered in large by to the sheer volume of marketing materials using this channel at once, resulting in emails more frequently being viewed as junk mail. This represents a significant challenge for companies, as although there are obvious positives from a cost perspective (marketing spend reduction due to upswing in digital efficiencies), correlated reductions in consumer conversion rates are occurring in the channel. This translates to – from a profit standpoint – although your marketing spend may reduce… so too may your overall ROI (from reduced sales effectiveness).

From a conversion perspective, print mediums continue to deliver a high level of trust and credibility to audiences – with many markets successfully utilising outbound print channels for content marketing purposes (capitalizing on the trust that the medium engenders in audiences). For example, a recent study by Colour Graphics (2017) illustrated that despite our digital age, a high amount of trust resides in printed newspapers – it’s estimated that 54% of customers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from a newspaper or magazine. Similarly, the declining direct catalogue market (printed, home delivered) still delivers significant consumer trust (buyer intention captured in excess of 55%, Roy Morgan 2017) and can deliver effective sales results when used in partnership with an effective online consumer funnel.

In support of using outbound print to augment a digital strategy, luxury international retailer Neiman Marcus continues to integrate printed catalogues into their online marketing strategy, due to the power that the offline channel delivers – particularly from a product / content marketing perspective. “If you look at the conversion metrics of somebody who does or does not receive a catalogue, as you can image, the more educated customer, familiar with our lends of what luxury fashion is, has a higher conversion rate – even if they migrate online” (Neiman Marcus, 2016).

If you consider ROI to be king, then spend needs to be balanced by sales in return – and perhaps companies shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss outbound print channels, drawn in by the appeal of a digitally-delivered reduced ad spend. If what you are seeking is sales, then an integrated print component could be an almost critical ingredient.

Pulse are experts at online / offline marketing integrations, and can help you today to get your mix right to reach, renew and retain more customers.