How To Successfully Combine Print and Digital Marketing For Maximum ROI

How To Successfully Combine Print and Digital Marketing For Maximum ROI

How To Successfully Combine Print and Digital Marketing For Maximum ROI

In an ever more connected world, it can be challenging to bridge the gap between print and digital marketing. Print marketing is proven to generate authentic and trust-based connections with potential customers come with the benefit of haptic (touch) memory and leave customers with a physical object they can return to. In fact, 82% of U.S. internet users would still trust print ads more than digital marketing when making eCommerce decisions. On the other hand, digital marketing is cheaper, faster and specific audiences can be targeted easily. Indeed, according to Google data, 51% of smartphone users have found a new company via online mobile searches.

However, given the amount of digital clutter online, and the number of flyers which end up at the bottom of a bag or in the bin, both approaches can have their limitations. Therefore, the most successful and forward-thinking companies will find a way to leverage the two methods at once, in order to create marketing strategies that use the personal nature of print in combination with the technological innovations of digital marketing.

So, the question for leading brands looking to cut through the noise and make an impact in their marketing will be: how can I effectively digitize my print marketing? Thankfully there are a number of innovative approaches and new technologies that can help businesses to take their print marketing to the next level. This guide to bringing your print marketing into the digital age will show you a rundown of our top tips for revolutionizing your print materials.

5 ways to bring your print marketing into the digital age:

1. QR codes

Scaning a QR Codes using a MobileSource: Pixabay/Geralt

Do you have an excellent poster campaign for your brand, as well as a beautifully designed and customer-centric website, but aren’t sure how to join the dots between the two? Uniting your online and offline marketing communications are crucial to building brand awareness. A QR code could be the bridge between the two you’ve been looking for. Essentially, you include a code in your print marketing that can be scanned by customers in order to push traffic to your online spaces. This could mean your customers are taken to your website, an online form, an email, a social media page or even a video or image, simply by scanning a code on your poster, flyer or print resource. QR codes are growing in popularity in a number of markets, generating an estimated $1.65trn of mobile payments in Japan and China in 2016 alone. Not only will this journey convert physical engagement with your print materials into online interaction, but QR codes can also be a great way to collect customer data about how people are receiving your marketing materials. Additionally, QR codes drive connectivity between your online and offline channels without compromising visual design or creativity which, as we know, is the strong point of conventional print marketing. That’s because QR codes can be printed onto almost any design, color or background – so you can benefit from a traditionally eye-catching poster design, and modern digital marketing techniques too.

2. Augmented Reality

We’ve all heard about the waves Augmented Reality (AR) is making in the spheres of marketing and advertising but did you know you could also leverage it to transform and update your print marketing? Print marketing AR takes the benefits of QR codes to another level. Take, for example, apps like GizThis which use image recognition technology to trigger digital engagement via any image or visual object that you choose to be your ‘tag’. Think a QR code, but the code itself can be anything! Augmented reality is a great way to bring an exciting or dynamic design to life through digital connectivity. A great example is the New Yorker’s May Innovator’s issue, which featured designs by Christoph Niemann that were brought to life for readers and animated when viewed through their free accompanying app. Of his work, he said “If you create a world on paper, you create a window. Usually, you just break the surface with your mind, but you always have the feeling of: what if you could step into that world or if something could come out of it?” AR can help audiences not just notice your print marketing, but ‘step into that world’ and engage with your message on a deeper level.

3. Gamified Print

Test Drive Volkswagen Inside Print AdvertiseSource: Screenshot from the video found on AdWeek

The idea of ‘gamification’ is nothing new – the idea that you can engage and interact with more customers by building on their competitive instincts and encouraging play. However, the last few years have seen a real surge of gamification in marketing, in particular when it comes to print. Indeed, recent studies show that 87% of North American retailers anticipate they’ll use gamification in their marketing communications with customers in the upcoming five years. Take, for instance, Volkswagen’s three-page print ad which also offered users the option to ‘test drive’ their vehicle by hovering a smartphone over a printed racecourse, giving them the option to complete laps, and try different features of the vehicle. The ‘lane assist’ feature was even recreated by a phone vibration when held close to the lane edge. Methods like this which use print marketing as a foundation for digital games are a highly effective way of updating your approach to print marketing and stimulating memorable connections between customers and your brand. Ultimately if your print marketing provides them with a fun game-like experience, they’ll maintain positive associations with your brand, a great starting point for a lasting relationship.

4. Landing Pages and Sub-Domains

Traditionally, a key advantage of digital over print marketing has been the ability to collect customer data. We hear all the time about how digital marketing allows you to learn much more about your customers than print marketing through tracking, tagging, and user journeys. Well, those days are over. By digitizing your print marketing, you can now generate user data through print materials just as successfully as online channels. The key here is sub-domains or dedicated landing pages. When including a website link on your brochure or business card, don’t simply include your normal generic URL, generate a specific online location that allows you to track which audiences are reaching your online property through your print campaign. It’s cheap, it’s simple and can be used in combination with analytics solutions to generate user data. Once again, print marketing doesn’t have to be a conventional, traditional approach. By using it in combination with 21st-century technological approaches, it can be an incredibly effective modern solution.

5. CTAs

Some print marketing is simply designed to be eye-catching, colorful and aesthetically pleasing. That’s what we might call ‘passive’ marketing. Effective and innovative print marketing will provoke specific responses from audiences that encourage them to actively interact with your brand, rather than simply read its name on a billboard. A very straightforward but successful way of achieving an active approach is by using the right CTA. Unfortunately, ‘check us out!’ might not cut it in these days where customers are overwhelmed by digital noise. Why not use a CTA that triggers a niche action on social media. For example, you could make your poster a backdrop for a photo opportunity, with the CTA of ‘Upload a picture of you with this poster to Instagram and tag us to receive 10% off your next order’. This will directly drive traffic to a channel of your choice and encourage a specific kind of interactivity. You’ll need to leverage data and analytics to select the right CTA for your print marketing. Make sure it’s specific, clear, and they’ll benefit from getting involved.


Digitized printing is rapidly transforming the print marketing market and empowering brands to make lasting connections with potential customers by combining the best elements of both print and digital. The evidence of this is seen in the fact that digital printing as an industry is set to grow to a mammoth $300bn (£266bn) by 2024. To stand out in a very crowded environment where consumers hear about new services and products every day, brands need to transform their print marketing to keep up with the modern age. By following these tips for digitizing print marketing, they can keep their print materials exciting and innovative. Not only that but these methods can help bridge the gap between online and offline marketing approaches, maximizing the ROI of both avenues as they work in combination rather than in competition with one another. Print marketing is here to stay, companies just need to modernize their print efforts to stay in the game! 

Author bio:

Chris Collins is Head of Marketing at ChilliPrinting, an online printing company that provides customers in the USA with cost-effective, high-quality offset printing products. He specializes in marketing strategy across online and offline campaigns, as well as CRM and customer support. Check out Chilliprinting’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.    

Feature Image:

Right Mix Marketing