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Does Digital-Only Work?

August 2014 By Summer Gould
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For a few years now, pundits have claimed that print is dead and digital is the new best thing. Let's take a minute to really look at both forms of marketing.

What is digital marketing? It's the promotion of products, services or brands electronically.

This can include email, website, social media and mobile. For the past few years, digital has been the main focus for marketers.

What is print? It's the promotion of products, services or brands on printed material. This can include posters, fliers, catalogs, postcards, newspapers, magazines, etc.

There is a real symbiotic relationship between them that benefits both, and when that relationship is ignored, results can be effected, sometimes negatively.

Here is an example of how digital alone does not work as well for all needs. It's a study done by Robert G. Magee of Virginia Tech. He wanted to test the effectiveness of the print and online versions of the university alumni magazine on open rate and recall. Half of the subscribers received a print version and half received an email link to the online version.

Subscribers recalled the online version 49 percent of the time, vs. 82 percent for print. The open rates were 77 percent for print and only 49 percent for online. People who viewed the print version recalled more articles than the online version.

When asked which method of delivery they preferred, 63 percent of subscribers were for print and 26 percent for online; the remaining 4 percent said "both" or "neither" for this magazine.

A few things to take away from this are that print:

  • Stands out;
  • Is better remembered; and
  • Is better understood.

In some cases, digital alone may be less expensive, but what are you sacrificing when that is your only form of communication? Use print to drive the online engagement; you will benefit from it.

Summer Gould is president of Santee, Calif.-based direct marketing services provider Eye/Comm Inc. Reach her at summer.gould@eyecomm.org.


 
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