Print + Digital = Your Next Marketing Secret Weapon

Combining aspects of print and digital marketing allows you to maximize the impact of your campaign.

Wed May 27 13:53:00 EDT 2015

What changes we’ve seen in our ability to communicate with customers over these past ten years! From direct mail and email to social media and websites, marketers now have access to an incredible array of tools for getting a message to their audience.

But finding the perfect mix of media can be difficult, especially given how many ways people can interact with your brand today. In fact, I’m here to argue that finding the right balance is more about your customer than it is about your business.

To really understand what to do to achieve the greatest possible visibility, you need to, first, determine who your target audience is and, second, identify how/where they’re engaging with your brand.  So, if your customer base consists mainly of senior citizens, it would be a mistake to invest solely in maintaining a major internet presence.

Maximize Your Visibility with Multiple Media

As I mentioned a few weeks ago on Dreaming in CMYK, one of the cross-channel campaigns I am currently working on shows that individuals who receive both direct mail and email communications are five times more likely to respond than those receiving just a direct mail piece. This may not prove true for every campaign, but for this residential moving company, the dual (and consistent) communications clearly proved itself worth the investment.

In Sappi’s book, ACT NOW! A Better Response to Direct Mail, they suggest that your best bet in kicking off a successful cross-channel campaign is to send a direct mail piece first and then follow it with email communications. Doing this allows you to weed out your non-responders when you send out subsequent reminder emails – or, even better, you can target your follow-up communications to reflect the responders’ own interests.

Print & Digital Working Together

In a world where consumers have so many ways to interact with your brand, it’s important that you also provide the tools they need for engagement via the medium most relevant to them. The good news is that these tools also help you to track your campaign’s effectiveness and response. In order of least to most expensive (but still more affordable than you’d probably guess) here are four ways to do this.

Quick Response (QR) Codes – Whether you love them or hate them, these little 2D, square barcodes can help drive your targets to the web where they can learn more about your offer. QR codes are an excellent way to generate online traffic without making your targets type in long URLs.Cost: FREE - $12/month


The good news, QR codes are cheap. In fact, you can search “QR Code Generator” in any search engine to return a list of free tools to help you create these barcodes. However, if you’re hoping to track the engagement they drive, you’ll need to subscribe to one of the many of the services that are available to do this.

Generic URLs (GURLs) – Not concerned about tracking individual responses to a campaign? Easily track generated buzz by including a campaign-specific GURL. You can host campaign information directly on the site, or do a simple redirect to your existing website. Either way, you can do this by creating a unique URL for your campaign.Cost: $12/year + hosting fees.

Depending on the URL you choose, most “.com” addresses go for around $11.99/year. Hosting can range anywhere from $4-8/month depending on the provider and the package you select.


Personalized URLs (PURLs) – Sometimes it’s worth creating a website for each target in a campaign. Much like with variable data printing, you can swap out variables such as imagery, copy, offers, etc. What’s more? You can track campaign activity all the way down to the individual.
*Bonus: Use PURLS in conjunction with QR codes. Personalized QR codes give you the same convenience of a quick scan to access their PURL while still providing powerful insights on a 1:1 level.Cost: $0.05-0.10/PURL + campaign setup + monthly maintenance fees

There are many ways a PURL campaign can be priced, but one of the more common I have seen is a per-PURL charge, plus an initial campaign setup and monthly maintenance fees. Initial campaign setup is driven by volume, campaign complexity, and development time. A simple- to medium-complex campaign might run you $1500-$3000, and a more complicated one can run upwards to $10,000 or more.


Augmented Reality (AR) – In today’s mobile world, augmented reality is a great way for brands to move their messages from catalog to smartphone screen. Whether you want to bring a video to life to provide more information, or encourage potential buyers to test drive your home décor products in their own living rooms like IKEA did, augmented reality is changing the way print and digital worlds are working together.Cost: $3.50/month - $25,000+

There are lots of resources out there to help you develop the experience you want to deliver to your clients. Tools like Layar or Aurasma offer low-cost, DIY solutions to help you create basic augmented reality campaigns. Obviously, the more complex you wish to get, the higher the cost will be. (I’ve seen some articles describing campaigns that cost north of $700,000!).


Making full use of the tools at your disposal is more important today than ever before.  Combining the power of digital and print can improve ROI with increased frequency, reach and engagement. Why not put your consumers in the driver’s seat and allow them to decide how to interact with your communications?

Learn how color can improve your ROI and make you stand out amongst your competition.

Have you tried any of these technologies yet? If so, what sorts of results have you seen? Please share your experiences in our comments, below.