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Digital versus print? Why effective multichannel marketing needs both

by Kurt Konow

As consumer behavior shifts, so does the need for more strategic marketing campaigns.

Marketing scientists agree that an integrated, multichannel approach that includes a variety of touchpoints will generate better results. Consider the mechanics around synching print with email. Which comes first, print or email? Well, it depends on your objective.

If your intent is for a prospect to visit you at a trade show, you likely will lead with emails, followed by a brochure highlighting your booth location at the show. But if you want a reader to register for a symposium, send out a brochure, followed by an email with a link to the registration form.

An increase in the “share of mailbox” value has driven higher response rates for direct mail.

The power of direct mail

A curious paradox is actually increasing the value of direct mail: while total postal volume has declined sharply over the past few years, an increase in the “share of mailbox” value has driven higher response rates for direct mail. With a two-pronged digital and print approach, you can increase your campaign success rate with the following messaging tips:

1. Clarity rules

If your message is unclear, cluttered, or takes too many twists, the reader will delete or trash it before reaching the “call to action.” You should be able to define in one paragraph what your story is about and what makes you different from the competition.

2. Answer the “so what?”

From a reader’s perspective, the vital question is: “What does this message mean to me?” Ask yourself how your story changes the way people work. Why should they care? Make sure your content is relevant to the audience by offering tips and advice on their main business challenges.

3. Get personal

Demographics and psychographics come into play, and life changes affect both. Use your data resources to personalize messages and celebrate special moments —marriages, childbirth, house purchases, championships, and the like. On-target emails and print drive behavior.

4. Keep it simple

When you want print readers to go to a website, choose an easy-to-remember URL. When you want them to click on a link in an email, place it high and prominently in the message. To make it easier for your message to be shared on social media, make sure to include sharing icons for social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Ask yourself how your story changes the way people work? Why should they care?

5. Offer value

If you’re not offering the reader an enticement to take action, your competitors probably are. Think carefully about what type of offer will be most valuable to the reader and to your company — discounts, free samples, surprise gifts, etc.

6. Consider timing

Much depends on whether your campaign is connected to an event, product launch, buying season, etc., and the range of media planning: emails, brochures, social media, magazine and banner ads, etc. Wait too long between engaging with the prospect, and he or she may forget the original message. Go too soon, and he or she may feel pestered. Avoid this pitfall by filling in dates on a calendar to visually judge the impact of your overall campaign.

7. Call to action

Every touch point of your campaign should have a “Call to Action” (CTA) that moves the buyer closer to the decision point. Ask yourself: What action do I want them to take after reading this email? Visit my website. Register for an event. Call a Sales Rep? Make sure your CTA is clear at the end of each message.

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Kurt Konow, Director, Production Field Marketing at Ricoh USA, Inc., is responsible for spearheading go-to-market strategies for key growth initiatives with a keen focus on Ricoh’s production print business. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Marketing at DePaul University.