Choosing Print in an Internet World
Can 1:1 Personalization Beat Out Electronic Media?
Cell phones. iPods. Blackberries. Laptops. PDAs. Personal computers. TiVo. Where,
in the ever-expanding marketing mix, is there room for print? Is it even relevant today? In a recent study conducted by IBM, new forms of media will grow at a 23% compound annual rate over the next four years—nearly five times the rate of traditional media. Why should marketers include print in their next campaign?
Just because forms of media are growing doesn’t mean they are more effective. The Print Council, a commercial printing industry support group, recently put out a brochure, “Why Print? The Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper,” listing ten reasons marketers should include print. In this article, we look at several of those reasons as they relate to a specific type of print—1:1 personalization—with our own take on why marketers can’t live without it.
Print is for keeps. Unlike e–mail, which gets automatically deleted after so long or disappears behind hundreds of other e-mails that come in every day, print is permanent. It stays where you put it. If it’s a 1:1 personalized piece that has caught the recipient’s attention, the recipient might even tack it to a bulletin board. It’s not unusual for variable data printing (VDP) marketers to talk about people holding onto 1:1 print pieces for weeks—even months—and trying to take advantage of promotions long after the coupon or promotion has expired.
Print is portable. One of the benefits of electronic media is that they can be personalized. They address recipients by name, and with the power of databases, they can address recipients’ specific interests and needs, without wasting time on unnecessary information. Print has the same benefits, but with print, there are
no compatibility issues. No need to keep anything charged. Print doesn't have to be turned off on an airplane. It doesn’t need to be read on a 2-inch screen. It’s viewable from all angles, even a foot away. You can scan entire pages quickly, even multiple pages at once.
Print drives higher ROI. Direct mail has a proven relationship to return on investment (ROI), and when you pair that with 1:1 print personalization, ROI goes up even more. Web sites are powerful marketing tools, but something has to drive traffic to them. According to a recent ComScore survey, online consumers who received a printed catalog were nearly twice as likely to make an online purchase at that retailer’s Web site (based on 6,400 responses to a survey of online shoppers). Similar statistics abound. Electronic media are powerful, but they can’t succeed alone.
Print proves ROI. One of the benefits of electronic media is that they allow response tracking, but print packs a powerful punch here, too. With various types of 1:1 personalization, you can obtain many of the same monitoring and measurement benefits, but you also gain the power and tangible appeal of print. When you use personalized URLs (PURLs), the ability to track and measure your response rates and ROI are only a mouse click away. With more traditional print-based personalization, you have to build in those measurements, but it’s worth the time to do so.
“Unlike e-mail, which gets automatically deleted after so long or disappears behind hundreds of other e-mails that come in every day, print is permanent.”
This does not, in any way, exhaust the benefits of 1:1 print, and in future issues, we’ll continue to explore additional reasons from The Print Council and beyond. In the meantime, marketers should think seriously about the proven benefits of personalized print, both as a standalone medium and as part of a powerful, multi–channel and multi–media marketing campaign.