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Printed marketing versus digital alternatives / Guest post by Sue Fenton

by on April 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

With the digital market becoming popular and at face value more cost effective than printed marketing, is it time to move on? Well for many businesses, it’s not necessarily clear that digital is always better. It may even be a business by business approach or a combination of the two that will get the most out of client’s attentions.

Types of Digital Marketing Campaigns

Digital campaigns are cheaper as they do not have the printing costs. However, search engine optimisation has to be top of the list so clients can find a business easily with online searches. Depending on size of the company, this can vary between hiring a single copywriter for a one off project writing search engine optimised content for a website, or getting a horde of them to come up with a digital ad campaign covering such things as Facebook, Twitter, email campaigns, banner ads and the like.

Certain types of digital campaigns have a way of being ignored. People can delete emails without ever looking at their content because of fear of spam. And unless an ad moves with fancy graphics and interrupts the flow of reading, the human brain can easily block out banners or other content busy around a website page. People rarely read an online ad save stumbling upon it or searching for something relevant to it. Most online campaigns, excluding email, are limited to people’s desires and needs, which is fine if it’s something people regularly want, but they have to want it enough to search for it.

That said, one of the major advantages is that a digital campaign can be run on a “Pay per Click” (PPC) basis. This means that however many people ignore an advert, the business only pays for the clients who read it and click to find out more. With printed campaigns, a business pays for every brochure, letter or flyer, including the ones that go straight in the bin.

Why Use Print At All?

Some businesses rule out print altogether, while others prefer it to all things digital. Digital campaigns are limited to online usage. It’s no good having a large digital campaign, if clients do not use the internet and would rather order on the back of a booklet or phone up. This is especially relevant if a large portion of the business’ clients are the elderly. It all depends on the type of target audience a business wants to attract as not everyone has a computer. Some people are left out of the marketing loop if a company solely devotes itself to online campaigns.

Print Campaigns

Though they can be more expensive, it is possible, though not necessarily true, for print campaigns to reach a wider audience and some people suggest they have a higher conversion rate than email marketing or online search. People import things online, but if they see the same services can be brought to them by a local business and the business has a community presence, then they may choose the latter. Local services are not always put in the spotlight online as they are smaller and may have less resources to market themselves in that way. Online saturation and the amount of information about other companies online too can sometimes hinder the smaller local business.

Print campaigns are brilliant for advertising local events promoting a business. With direct mail campaigns it is possible to produce letters directly addressed to the recipient, catching their attention and giving it a personal touch. Of course, this can also be done electronically through email. However, some people think there is something even more personal about receiving a letter through the door.

If a client sees some tangible marketing material about the same company as they go about their everyday life and it’s there over a longer period of time, they get to know the company and the brand. Bill boards are a good example of eye-catching printed marketing material that does not go unnoticed. Unlike brochures, a bill board poster cannot be thrown away by individuals and for certain companies it may be a good marketing investment.

It is often getting the balance right between print and digital that concerns a business trying to market themselves, but it may that their target audience and the resources of the company become the determining factors. The combination of print and digital is often considered the best by the majority of businesses even in this age of digital media.


Sue Fenton has worked with managed print solutions for several years and has seen how the industry has adapted to meet the challenges of digital alternatives. She currently works for Print and Digital Associates.


photo credit: geoftheref via photopin cc

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