How print embraces digital marketing

The last dance forever or the best dance ever?

If you follow the reports from various German retailers such as OBI or Rewe, you could start to panic: The brochure is being abolished! Out!

A wave of excitement and mass hysteria ensues. The reactions in the business-relevant social media to the pros and cons of the prospectus are in no way inferior to the news about the demise of the English queen in terms of attention.

I've been negotiating prospects for about 20 years in my job as a buyer and later as a consultant. A notable example is the retailer OBI, whose brochures I negotiated for Russia. Over time, we came to the conclusion that it would be of high quality for consumers if, in addition to the "price, picture, price, picture" brochure mentality, more comprehensive magalogs (a mixture of magazine and catalog) could be created. With inspiration and information on how to equip a dacha (a seasonal or year-round second home, often located outside the city) with DIY technology or even how to properly lay out the garden around it. To this end, we have started talks with publishers such as Burda Verlag as to whether and how a magazine can be developed in cooperation that bundles both editorial knowledge from a publisher and product information from a retailer.

What I mean by this is: Print is not the former mass-produced brochure. Print is not the segmented B-2-B catalog. Print is not highly personalized or even programmatic direct mail. For branded companies, manufacturers and retailers, print means dozens of different options that can attract attention in the customer journey and lead to information-intensifying, sales-promoting impulses and ultimately to sales-increasing campaigns. So even if an old braid is cut off at one point, as in the case of the brochure, that doesn't mean that something new can't be created in connection with print at another point in the customer journey. The retailer OBI Germany proves this with the new development of a magazine "Alles machbar" for the gardening season, also in collaboration with Burda, with a circulation of over one million copies (source: Burda). Direct mail was used by some companies during COVID 19 as a more closely timed measure. Other companies reduced the size of their catalogs due to supply bottlenecks for goods.

Print embraces digital, or how to dance to the tune of digital marketing

Gartner beautifully describes the challenges that marketing managers (CMOs - Chief Marketing Officers) face today when, on the one hand, they have to orchestrate marketing measures in line with the market for digitally domesticated recipients (Customer Facing Experience) and, on the other hand, have to integrate them in line with digitization for the corporate organization (Organizational Enabler):

What does this mean for print?

Digitization (Organizational) Enabler: Print becomes part of the digital strategy. This practical report from the mail order company SSI Schäfer Shop gets to the heart of what print has to dance to:

"Print becomes part of the digital strategy!" (Source: OnetoOne, Issue 01-02/2022)

Period. Print must be seamlessly connected to digital systems so that the digital gears in the company can work to their full potential and trigger print touchpoints in an automated way.

Customer experience: print becomes fast, targeted and measurable
Clear vote of the pharmaceutical company B. Braun for the market (source: virtual drupa):

"We need print-on-demand in real time, customizable along the customer's customer journey and measurable in digital metrics, in line with the company's reporting."

So these are the prerequisites for print to continue to play the music in the marketing orchestra. The innovation cycles of digital technologies set the pace for print's ability to adapt to these digital rules. Incidentally, we are only at the beginning of the great digital revolution of print here.

Print embraces digital or how to overcome boundaries

A brief look back at the era of mass catalog mailings: Many years ago, a German mail order company, Weltbild, produced monthly catalog mailings of over 4 million copies. We meticulously evaluated sales goals and results based on the grid size of product ads on the page and their placement in the catalog using sticky dots in green, yellow and red. According to the traffic light system, these were the top sellers and the bums. Then came the era of multi-channel communication: the online store was introduced, more stores were set up and it had to be determined much more precisely where the impulse purchases came from and who brought in the sales. The customer journey began and the need to develop correlating metrics when creating bridges to bring physical measures into a common metric with digital measures became absolutely imperative. There are definitely efficiencies to be gained from correlating metrics correctly, such as with catalogs: informative catalogs that used to be many pages become less voluminous, are better segmented, and better turns are enabled as a result.

But again and again, touchpoints are seen in a new context when it comes to breaking down boundaries: Currently, the catalog is again increasingly being traded as an entry point into the customer journey, linked with QR codes or other tools to connect to the Internet. Royal Mail research showed that 49% of people who receive a printed catalog visit the brand's website, 40% make a purchase, and 52% buy more than they originally intended. Or, thinking from online to offline, the personalized postcard that programmatically processes data from the online store and uses coupon codes to motivate recipients to store again brings an increased conversion rate. The marketing mix of a home improvement chain ensured steady lead generation through the mix of pay-per-click and social media. Subsequently sending a direct mail piece had a significant further impact on lead generation - the 113% increase was dramatic and directly attributable to direct mail (source: Sappi). There are many approaches to overcome the media break between the physical and digital worlds and to also track the response chains in the customer journey or to measure accompanying measures in advertising delivery.

Print embraces digital marketing = SUCCESS

For number enthusiasts, there is much more evidence of print's effectiveness in the digital marketing orchestra. However, it's not about who's better, but is about achieving the optimal customer experience. Here, the interplay of print and digital plays a major role in being more successful together than the individual channels are (multiplier effect). Practical examples show that campaigns in which online and print media were combined had up to 50% greater business success compared to individual campaigns.

What is the secret of the marketing success of print and digital?

Print and digital are often treated as two different worlds, like fire and water. The fact is that print and digital actually have the same foundation: It's about data and it's about content. The experience is treated differently. Print has the best chance of conquering the digital world with identical opportunities. Because like attracts like. And opposites attract: The digital world with its cognitive properties, and print- which appeals to the senses and emotions, are in turn complementary. To put it in relational terms: the basis is therefore right.

The strengths of digital, such as immediacy, personalization and use of audio and video, and the world of print, with its adaptability, larger format, reach, mobility, haptics and emotionality, can be perfectly combined with a strategy. Where digital marketing becomes expensive to scale or legal regulations throw a wrench in the works, print can scale many times over and vice versa. With secondary use of data and content, print is also a cost-effective extension of the enterprise digital marketing landscape. With dozens of opportunities along the customer journey, the customer experience can be enhanced as print touchpoints reach customers and consumers where they are. Combining the attributes of print and digital therefore promises a rich and vibrant relationship - sometimes near, sometimes far, sometimes online, and sometimes offline.

Has print now conquered digital marketing? Is it the last dance forever or the best dance ever? I think the answer is clear enough: it's becoming the dream team! But print is also about more than the numbers- and data-driven laws of digital marketing. As the Beatles' song says: "All you need is love." Let's use print to bring love back into the customer journey - and let's dance together.