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Three Ways to Integrate Print and Digital Marketing

In marketing strategies, print and digital often live separate lives. However, although they can be successful on their own, print and digital together can amplify each other’s strengths and create greater impact.

That type of impact is critical in today’s environment as brands work to re-engage customers, communicate new messaging, and stand out.

Luckily, the opportunities for integrating print and digital marketing efforts are continually expanding. Here are three effective strategies you can use now.

1. Create augmented reality experiences with print

In the US, 96% of adults own a cellphone, 81% of them smartphones, according to Pew Research Center. Companies can use that fact to their advantage when developing creative print marketing campaigns. With augmented reality (AR), smartphones allow readers to engage on a new level and bring print messaging to life by overlaying and enhancing a static image using computer-generated perceptual information.

IKEA, an early AR adopter, made news by pairing physical print catalogs with AR technology to allow people to “try out” furniture in their home. Shoppers simply point their smartphone at the catalog and then use the phone camera to “place” the furniture in their surroundings. As Wired pointed out, that has become one of AR’s most important use cases, because it allows customers to interact virtually with a product typically reserved for in-person shopping only.

Especially now, with consumers shopping in-person less, innovation remains important for marketers looking to keep customers engaged and interested. Data from Vertebrae indicates that since the beginning of 2020 AR engagement has increased 20%, according to Retail Customer Experience, and conversion rates are 90% higher when people engage with AR.

Delivering more than your average marketing experience, immersive interactions create memorable touchpoints that are only possible when print and digital work together.

2. Drive digital engagement through print—and vice versa

Direct mail is known for high conversion rates; and when direct mail is paired with digital ads, conversion rates are 28% higher, according to a 2018 Data & Marketing Association report. Complementing direct mail campaigns with digital efforts creates opportunities to reinforce messaging and to direct recipients to more messaging online. Print marketing also offers creative ways to encourage audiences to connect with a brand online and interact directly.

For example, Indiana University used a combined print and digital approach to engage prospective students by sending out acceptance letters in branded envelopes with the hashtag #IUsaidYes. The school encouraged students to post a photo using the hashtag to its social accounts, and there are now more than 4,300 Instagram posts that use the hashtag! The traditional print-only acceptance experience turned digital, simultaneously increasing student excitement and highlighting Indiana University’s culture.

Combining print with digital engagement can help drive additional integrated campaign strategies. One of the benefits of social media marketing is the ability to pivot quickly and test multiple ideas. Businesses should take note of their online analytics to learn what audiences respond to and then develop integrated campaigns based on the most successful messaging. For example, a top-performing social media post or hashtag signals the potential for a successful campaign. Businesses can even directly incorporate content from social posts and digital pieces into print products.

For example, USAA Insurance used a direct mailer that highlighted positive Twitter quotes of actual customers. Like many brands, USAA Insurance offered customer support on Twitter and often registered spikes in engagement via positive, public customer exchanges. That also helped its goal of increasing customer support engagement on social media.

3. Integrate physical and virtual interactions with your brand

QR codes have become increasingly pervasive over the past decade. According to Global Web Index, twice as many people scanned a QR code in North America in 2018 than in 2015. Statista estimates that 11 million US households will have scanned a QR code in 2020, and most Fortune 500 companies have added QR codes to their marketing strategies, according to Beaconstac. Print is the most common way to communicate QR codes since users can easily scan them with their smartphone and arrive at their online destination without typing in a lengthy URL.

Best Buy was ahead of the curve in integrating the in-store print and digital shopping experiences by adding QR codes to in-store product tags. When shoppers scan a printed QR code, they can research, review, and share product information the way they’re accustomed to—on their phone. As the shopping experience moved increasingly to the digital—and mobile—realm, that move sought to keep the brick-and-mortar experience relevant to that new world.

Successful integrated marketing campaigns capitalize on the best qualities of each marketing channel to achieve the highest engagement rate and meet customers where they are.

However you choose to integrate your print and digital marketing, work with a trusted vendor to help you execute flawlessly. You can turn to a print consultant—such as FedEx Office‘s nationwide commercial print network—that not only knows your business but also can act as an extension of your team to deliver high-quality experiences for you and your customers.

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