Print’s Relationship with Digital: Offline and Online

Technological developments have encouraged many advertisers to opt towards digital means of production, some may think that the power of print has dissolved — but that’s not strictly true. From a consumer’s perspective, printed materials can offer a personal touch that simply can’t be achieved online. In fact, many believe that neither print nor digital can truly succeed without the other — but what are the facts?

The Importance of Digital

A great number of campaigns today wouldn’t have the momentum they have today without digital. With more consumers than ever before spending time on the internet, businesses would be foolish not to get involved in online marketing.

Marketing via search engines is one avenue of advertising that companies are becoming more involved with. As the name suggests, this side of digital marketing focuses on driving a business’ site to the top of the search results around relevant target phrases — from corporate keywords like ‘business cards’ to more retail-focused targets like ‘uniforms’. As a result, this can increase brand exposure and site traffic while improving sales figures.

The rise of social media has also allowed businesses to utilise the platform as a means of promoting their brand efficiently. From paid adverts to viral campaigns, the digital world has opened up many doors for small and medium companies in particular — exposing themselves to an audience that may not have known they existed and in turn, generating mass interest.

The digital world has made room for businesses to begin analysing their audience, allowing them to gain a greater insight into their general behaviour and spending patterns. From tracking analytics, whether this is across social media platforms or the main website, marketing managers are able to identify key areas of interest and create campaigns around this to drive sales.

Today there are many methods businesses can implement to hook an online audience to stay one step ahead of their competitors. Through a combination of search engine and social media marketing, many brands are beginning to run competitions and deals that are only exclusive to an online following. These low-cost campaigns will benefit from extensive reach.

The Importance of Print

Despite the main focus being on digital, businesses should not neglect the power of print and the opportunities that can come off the back of it. Print very much has a place in modern advertising as it can offer a personal touch unlike no other and generally has a longer life cycle which is always beneficial for the exposure of your brand. Take printed leaflets, for example, once they have been posted through the door, whoever picks them up will have to acknowledge your materials!

Ironically, the surge of digital has made printed and physical business merchandise to become almost a ‘retro novelty’, meaning goodie bags at networking events are still a welcome take-home for delegates and aspiring customers alike. Brand image has never been more important for businesses and shouldn’t be ignored — as a result, more companies are making investments in personalised products that represent what they stand for. Whether this is to help them externally, with the likes of outdoor banners and branded disposable cups at networking events, or internally for your office with the likes of customised calendars.

Although printed goods can often be higher in price, they can drive exceptional ROI to your campaign and create a memorable experience for the receiver which should be a core focus for your print campaign. This can be achieved through eye-catching designs and a choice of luxury materials which will lead to a meaningful engagement.

An Integrated Approach

Whilst online and offline advertising are two entirely separate operations, they can and should coexist well together and some brands are already utilising such methods.

Take QPR codes for example, more businesses are trying to audiences in the real world to their online solutions. As QPR codes are unique and can entice people to be more inquisitive, they can drive immense traffic to online campaigns when printed on banners. Through this method of advertising, marketing departments can track success and gather data on users when they’re interacting with the code. With the data collected from campaigns like this, businesses can record contact information (such as email addresses) if users decide they want to opt-in.

When looking closer to news publications, many of them still offer printed versions of their product — blurring the line between print and digital. With an understanding of the influence they have online, they’ve been able to merge two channels together and to distribute stories to a wider audience.

Another area that should be considered when it comes to the relationship between online and offline publications is near field communication. Essentially, near field communication is a type of technology that has the ability to connect two smart devices — often with the help of a print medium. For example, a section of a poster can be tapped with a mobile phone which will then take the user to the e-commerce site for a specific product.

Successful Online/Offline Campaigns

Making waves in recent years is the online hospitality marketplace, with the likes of Airbnb changing the way we book accommodation both in this country and abroad. Predominantly a digital business with its own website and downloadable app, the company decided to launch its own magazine for registered hosts (those who advertise their property) which is around 18,000 people. This magazine included personal stories of hosts and their accommodation, encouraging interaction with the digital business through print. Although the magazine production has been put on hold since, it’s a good example of how an online business can promote its services elsewhere.

Remember when Coca-Cola decided to personalise their labels and put printed names on, a simple and cheat marketing tool that proved to be highly effective.? The printed labels for the Share A Coke campaign allowed the drink manufacturer to become more personal with its customers and as a result, buyers then shared their bottles on social media which made it an integrated campaign.

As we can see, digital and print both play huge parts in the marketing of a business. But often, they can be most successful when they’re brought together.

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