Sunday, December 21, 2014

Why Print Marketing is Still Vital for Some Companies

The growth of digital marketing over the past few years has been nothing short of spectacular. According to Forrester's latest digital marketing forecast, digital marketing spend in the US will exceed $100 billion in five years, it will be about $13 billion more than television advertising, and it will represent 35% of all US advertising spend.

There's no longer any doubt that digital technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the path to purchase of both consumers and business buyers. This doesn't mean, however, that all non-digital forms of marketing have lost their effectiveness. In fact, recent research indicates that traditional print-based marketing channels and tactics are still a vital part of the marketing communications mix for some kinds of companies.

The Nielsen Research

In September of this year, The Nielsen Company published a report that focused on what sources of information consumers use to make buying decisions. The Nielsen report acknowledged the growing importance of digital technologies in consumers' path to purchase. For example, Nielsen expects that online sales of consumer product goods in the US will be 2.5 times higher in 2015 than they were in 2010.

What some people will find surprising is that Nielsen's research also reveals that print marketing is still an effective component of the marketing mix for retailers. Nielsen found that today, more than half of all US shoppers use printed circulars to obtain product and sales information, and the use of printed circulars is nearly 20 percentage points higher than the closest digital marketing touch point - email. Based on its research, Nielsen concludes that print is not dead for retailers and that digital won't be replacing print anytime soon.

The ABM Research

Research also shows that print marketing is still effective in the B2B space. Last year, The Association of Business Information & Media Companies (ABM) conducted an in-depth survey of almost 6,700 media end-users (readers, event attendees, etc.) to gain insights about how they are obtaining information to support business-related purchases. The survey focused on several kinds of digital and print media, and also included events such as conferences and trade shows.

The ABM survey found that 96% of end-users use both websites and print magazines to obtain business information. When asked what sources of information they use on a weekly basis, 73% of respondents said websites, 67% said e-newsletters, and 45% said print magazines.

ABM also asked survey participants to rate the importance of various sources of information in buying decisions. When asked about researching work-related purchases, the top three sources identified by respondents were:

  • Websites - 65% of respondents
  • Product information from manufacturers - 62%
  • Print magazines - 48%
When asked specifically what sources of information were important for learning about new products, services, or suppliers, the top three information sources identified by respondents were:
  • Websites - 80% of respondents
  • Product information from manufacturers - 73%
  • Print magazines - 69%
Key Takeaway

The growing importance of digital marketing channels and techniques is undeniable, but these research findings indicate that both consumers and business buyers are still using printed marketing materials to inform buying decisions. The evidence shows that potential buyers are increasing the number of information sources they use during their path to purchase. So, they are embracing the newer digital communication channels, but they are also continuing to rely on traditional, non-digital sources of information.

It's also clear from these studies and other research that younger buyers are more likely to use and rely on digital communication channels. Therefore, it's likely that, over time, non-digital marketing channels and tactics (including print-centric marketing) will become less important than they are today. For the intermediate future, however, print marketing will remain a useful and effective component of the marketing mix for many kinds of companies.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see acknowledgement of reality. It should also be noted that the original touch point websites are often the strong local community newspapers. Print to web products supply consumers with many of these inserts online as well as general advertising. The E-Newsletters and opt in email are also a thriving segment of newspaper i.e. print growth. Lastly to this point Google and all major search engines rely heavily on newspaper websites to direct geographically significant search requests. All of this is proof that we are in a perpetually changing landscape to identify and reach consumers in their very individualized path to purchase. One change that has not been brought to attention is the dramatic loss to local broadcast and cable in audience. Cable subscribers have been signing off in droves. In years past this might have indicated a growth in digital antenna use. Not so fast! Smart TVs offer consumers many ways to get their visual entertainment fix. Noticing this trend the major networks are jumping on the Apple TV and other inexpensive means of supplying network programming. ( CBS and ABC) have already signed on. (Although the NFL is not part of the deal that is only temporary and due to contracts that will be renegotiated). The major Networks will not really have any specific need for local affiliates. They will be able to penetrate any market. "But what about local newscasts you say?". Lets put it in perspective. If thats the only reason for looking at a local TV station that information ( the two and a half minute story line) will be replaced by more efficient digital entries into the arena. Digital video is the next frontier and is already being used. If it were not for agencies milking the last dollars from a dying media (local TV affiliates) the demand would drop so fast that local stations would have to sell inventory for what its truly worth based on an audience eroding rapidly. ( The term what goes around comes around comes to mind about an industry that jubilantly touted the death of newspaper!) Newspapers have pulled a Lazarus on the media world by developing strong web products based on a leaner but still well organized system of providing hyper local relevant content. So yes this article is correct and the surveys in some ways miss the overall impact of newspapers