Why Print Needs to be part of your Digital Plan

Here are six of the benefits of such a print approach:

  1. It cuts through email clutter by getting into the home to make an emotional connection. When a household receives only a few pieces of mail a day, a well-designed catalog will stand out and have a chance to make its way to other household members.Print is lauded for its ability to make an emotional connection—something that can be at least partially attributed to the fact that you hold and feel it in your hands.
  2. It uses content and storytelling to build awareness and purchase intent. Whether you use copy or design for storytelling, you have the ability to weave a narrative so that customers can see themselves in a situation that is either true to life or aspirational. It is much more difficult to accomplish that with an HTML email or a banner ad.
  3. It offers customers a chance to browse (vs. searching on a website). A print catalog gives consumers a chance to shop, browse, and make discoveries at their own pace or over multiple viewings. Website searches are not well suited for discovery. A print piece is great for finding things you never knew existed, while on the Web you are generally searching for something you already have in mind.
  4. It can be integrated with online tactics: digital editions, mobile apps, social media, and commerce websites. A print catalog or magalog can help drive people to your commerce site or to a digital edition of the catalog; there, you can convert the sale. Also, it can raise awareness and help get people to go to your Facebook page or to follow you on Twitter, or you can alert them to retail deals you’re offering on Foursquare.
  5. It lets you finely target your list for both acquisition and reactivation of lapsed customers. A powerful use of print is reactivation of a lapsed customer. Zappos has been successful with that approach, re-energizing its relationship with lapsed customers who had been receiving regular emails but hadn’t purchased in years.After receiving the Zappos Life magalog, many lapsed customers went to the site and purchased, having their interest reignited after the magalog appeared in their mailbox.
  6. It provides tangible, measurable ROI. There are a few techniques for measuring the effectiveness of catalogs and magalogs.If you sell online, compare all sales during a set time period (6-8 weeks is an optimal time period based on buyer behavior) against the mailing file. To the matches you can append sales and product data to do a more thorough analysis.

    Selling through retail is a bit more challenging. You can add a bar-coded coupon and test it on geographic areas or against control stores. The goal is to establish a revenue amount that you can attribute to the catalog. From there, back out your margin and apply it against production and postage costs.

With new media channels emerging, it is time to evaluate your media mix to ensure you’re reaching your customers and prospects wherever they are to build awareness, grow community, and drive sales.

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