Offline and Online: Print’s Relationship with Digital

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We’ve come a long way in the past decade or so in terms of technological developments, with advertisers looking to opt towards digital means of production, some even 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 power of print

Despite many advertising companies now deciding to go fully digital, businesses should not forget the power of print. 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.

Would we be lost without digital?

A large amount of campaigns today wouldn’t have the same amount of prowess they have today without digital. With more consumers than ever before spending time on the internet, businesses would be foolish not to get involved with online marketing.

Businesses are starting to see the importance and impact search engine marketing can have on a businesses online coverage. 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 ‘pull up banner’ to more retail-focused targets like ‘bespoke uniforms’. As a result, this can increase brand exposure and site traffic while improving sales figures.

The easy-to-navigate, accessible attributes of social media has encouraged more and more businesses to begin promoting and advertising through it. 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 landscape has also allowed for businesses to begin tracking reports and analytics with a lot more scope, to gain a greater insight to their general behaviour and spending patterns. From tracking analytics, whether this is across social media platforms or the main website, marketing managers can identify key areas of interest and create campaigns around this to drive sales.

Advancements have allowed for businesses to have an abundance of routes to consider when it comes to staying 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.

Although printed goods require more time and money, they can help to drive exceptional ROI results 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.

Prosperous industry campaigns

One of the pioneers in digital advertising campaigns and utilising user generated content is Airbnb, an online hospitality marketplace which is changing the way we are booking and staying in accommodation. 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.

Coca Cola, revolutionary in their marketing campaigns with the likes of the Christmas truck and changing the colour of Santa, they went a little subtle by putting names on bottles to make them look personalised, encouraging buyers to look out for their own, utilising the user generated content boom. 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.

A combined approach

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

QPR codes are a good example of more businesses looking to implement a wider range of audience-engaging tools. 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.

Many news publications, although dropping in numbers in the newsrooms, still offer a printed publication of their paper, blurring the lines 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 can 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 ecommerce site for a specific product.

In conclusion to this, both print and digital offer up a great deal of importance to marketing campaigns, despite many saying the former is dead. But often, they can be most successful when they’re brought together.