Print is the New Digital Champion – Part II

In the last blog post written by my colleague, Michelle Houston, she demonstrated the symbiotic relationship that postal retargeting shares with digital marketing. She also articulated why it’s vitally important to integrate postal retargeting into the marketing mix.

I couldn’t agree more.

I wanted to continue on that thread of print being a digital champion by covering some other areas where digital programs, as well as companies’ performance, benefits from a robust print program.

Frequently in our client engagements, we uncover “turf wars” that exist between siloed marketing groups who fight for their share of the budget to run somewhat independent programs. Here’s how it typically breaks down:

  • The digital team is interested in driving performance online;
  • The retail team is interested in driving in-store sales;
  • The print team is just trying to survive since there is no real “print” channel.

That’s right. What is usually missing in the gladiator-style battles for funding is the understanding that the print program is, in fact, supporting all channels. Companies who thrive embrace print as a mechanism to support online and retail store traffic sales, understanding that all channels will benefit.

(Side note pet peeve: The call center is not the catalog channel. In this day and age, it is unacceptable for any company to be reporting phone sales as catalog.)

Research and client results continue to show (as indicated in the chart below) that the more you align contact through the various marketing channels, the incremental sales will increase. Hyper-focused on the development of relevant audience creation, print contact tends to be more valuable long term and have superior KPI’s when tracked through the online or retail process. It behooves all companies and marketing teams to identify, include, and embrace the traffic driven by the print program.

However, not all online traffic sources will be affected by print marketing equally. Print tends to support email, direct load, and branded search more than it does others, such as non-branded search, social, and affiliates. The following depiction is a typical interaction that we see when tracking order channels via web analytics. The most crucial point from the data below is that 67% of the online orders are influenced by print. It’s typical for a company with an active print program to discover that 70% of online orders are influenced by print, and 30% are genuinely incremental digital-only sales.

An all-too-common mistake we frequently see is failing to account for changes in the performance of online channels that result from changes made to the print program. Because print drives a healthy amount of traffic to other marketing channels, any print reductions will impact the traffic/orders through email, paid search, and the like.  Furthermore, since print-driven traffic is typically highly qualified, primary KPI’s such as click-throughs, conversions, and bounce rates tend to get worse.

While print is an excellent tool for retargeting to support digital efforts, it is also a digital champion in supporting all aspects of online marketing. When companies can identify and harness the power of multiple marketing channels, the success rate is high. When companies make blanket changes without understanding the implications, performance drops, and the success rate worsens.   They’re usually left scratching their heads, wondering why online metrics are falling. Don’t be the one scratching your head at the cascade of unintended consequences.

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