Print and Digital: Complements, but Not Interchangeable

In the marketing world, we regularly hear about print and digital marketing being used together. Digital and print media reinforce one another, so rather than seeing the two as competitors, marketers are encouraged to integrate them. However, integration doesn’t mean that the two channels are interchangeable, as one new survey shows. Consumers still want a choice.

The Data

A survey commissioned by Two Sides North America reveals that U.S. consumers are unhappy with corporate initiatives forcing them into digital-only communication and eliminating paper-based options. Many of the questions related to bills and statements, but the results apply to marketing communications, too.

Consumers want to be able to choose whether to receive paper bills and statements, and they don’t want to have to pay extra to do it.  For example, 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information, and 77% would be unhappy if they were asked to pay for it. More than three-quarters (79%) felt that paper options were easier to read compared to screens.

There is also suspicion about the motives of companies forcing their customers to go paperless. Overwhelmingly (85%), consumers agreed that cost savings is the main reason companies use claims such as “Go Paperless—Go Green” or “Go Paperless—Save Trees.” More than half (57%) question the truthfulness of such claims.

The Point

So use digital and print-based communications wisely. Use email when you need to touch base quickly, such as sending company news, alerting customers to a flash sale, or offering reminders. Use print where digital communications are not as strong, such as for . . .

  • In-depth communications.
  • Contacts that contain highly personal information.
  • Mailings that involve brand or personal trust.

Studies also show that information is easier for people to understand and recall in print, so use print for “weightier” topics and messages that require attention to detail. If you want to move customers to digital communication, ask first. Don’t make the decision for them.

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