Reasons to Integrate Print and Digital Marketing

Reasons to Integrate Print and Digital Marketing header

Print marketing is currently undergoing a renaissance — thanks to digital marketing. More enterprises are looking into combining the best aspects of print and digital marketing for unprecedented conversion rates.

Digital marketing was thought to be the thing that would end print and other traditional media. Instead, what happened was all these different marketing channels strengthened each other, each creating new sets of possibilities for the others.

Unfortunately, many marketers and advertisers are still in the dark about how to use both online and offline channels together.


Web and social media marketing is not new, but compared to other marketing mediums such as print, radio, and television it still is pretty young especially when you consider how many traditional marketers approach it. Even among younger professionals and entrepreneurs, the understanding of the contexts where digital marketing works is often misunderstood.

Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding is that all of these mediums are directly equivalent to each other, with the only difference being the number of people you can reach per dollar spent. In the mind of countless bean counters since the mid-2000’s, this means pouring the entirety of a marketing budget into digital makes sense.

Unfortunately, just because a certain medium is able to reach someone, it does not mean they’d react the same way. Many marketers also ignore the fact that both traditional and digital media can work synergistically, and are not necessarily substitutes for each other.

Why integrate online and ‘real-world’ marketing?

Reasons to Integrate Print and Digital Marketing - Why Do It?

The main attraction of digital marketing is the much lower cost per person reached compared to traditional media. No doubt you can reach far more people per dollar spent with digital marketing compared with marketing. On the other hand, the quality of your interactions will be vastly different thanks to how we typically react to either medium. This difference is fundamental, and can actually be detected through a fMRI brain scan.

A study conducted by Temple University for the U.S. Post Office found that as far as they could be compared, paper beats digital on most useful metrics that determine an ad’s effectiveness.


Print marketing may incur more costs per interaction, but the value of those interactions is much more than what could be expected from digital.

So, does this mean digital marketing is pointless? Of course not! Digital marketing offers so much more than just a low cost per person reached. The huge amount of data that could be compiled when digital marketing projects include a good tracking and analytics system can be immense, and can be used to multiply the effectiveness of other marketing media.  Other media simply cannot compete with digital in this area.

The data gathered from digital marketing efforts can be used to provide print and other traditional marketing campaigns with a kind of targeting that was unheard of in the past. Combining print and digital marketing tools is clearly worth looking into.


Real world examples

In 2002, Shop Direct, a UK-based retailer, produced 30 million catalogs. Having switched to an online model, by 2014 they produced less than one million. But even having dropped production 30 fold, classic paper catalogs were responsible for about 10% of Shop Direct’s business, with sales worth 240 million euros (around 262 million USD). Simple math tells us this meant a return of over 262 dollars for every catalog sent.

This efficiency would not have been possible without the data provided by online customers. Customers who received print materials also clearly outspend customers who purely converted through digital means. Their customer lifetime value was much greater compared to customers not given print materials.

A slightly more recent example is  the #R2SPECT campaign for Derek Jeter’s retirement, created by Weiden+Kennedy for Jordan. The campaign used flyers, iconic billboards (which you can see in the video below), television, and naturally web and social media marketing. By some estimates, they reached 44 million unique users online and perhaps twice that number through offline channels.

In this case, the combination of print and digital marketing contributed to making the campaign more emotionally resonant and memorable for more people, compared to what it might have been had it been primarily digital or offline.

Combining print and digital marketing has also resulted in unprecedented efficiency for direct mailers. Direct mail campaigns no longer need to be indiscriminate and annoying in the way they used to be — you can just send print materials to the customers who actually want them, resulting in much less waste and much better conversion.


Real-world and online marketing methods are not exclusive. If you’re running a campaign exclusively online, studying how other businesses have integrated both digital and real-world marketing can be worthwhile. This is particularly true for print marketing, given the impact print can have on customer retention.

The future of print and digital advertising is still left to be written. It’s certain advertisers and marketers will continue to push the envelope — both literally and figuratively.