Commentary & Analysis
If Print Is So Powerful, Why Do Multichannel Marketing Studies Ignore It?
If the benefits of including print in the marketing mix are so clear, why is print regularly shut out of the multichannel marketing studies and discussions in the larger world of marketing? Is it simply because digital channels are easier to track? Or is it something else?
By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: February 7, 2018
There are many mysteries in life, and marketing has no shortage of them. One of those mysteries is why, if the benefits of including print in the marketing mix are so clear—and the numbers certainly support this to be the case—print is regularly shut out of the discussions in the larger world of marketing.
I recently read a compelling argument for multichannel integration put out by Braze, which offers a platform for creating integrated, personalized messaging across devices, channels, and platforms. The conclusions are based on data from its more than 300 million users, and the numbers are stunning. For example:
- Brands that send cross-channel messaging to customers see engagement rates up to 844% higher than those who send no additional messaging.
- Brands that send messages to customers through a single channel (email, push, or in-app messages only, for example) see average engagement levels 179% higher than those who send no messaging.
- When customers receive outreach in two or more channels, their levels of engagement are 166% higher than those receiving only single-channel messaging and 642% higher than those receiving no additional messaging.
These data are in the context of digital marketing, not print, but the psychology crosses channel lines. When a brand stays in regular contact with its customers, those customers stay engaged with the brand. In the digital world, the Braze data shows us just how powerful those simple touches can be.
This principle applies regardless of channel, and print is a powerful tool for customer engagement and retention, too. So where is it in the industry research and discussion? In this industry, we encourage clients to integrate both print and digital. When we study multichannel integration, we study the integration of both print and digital channels. So why does the digital world only study its own? Why is direct mail—a $10 billion industry—ignored?
In part, in the digital world, it is easy to track results across channels, making comparisons easy. Platforms are designed to integrate a specific set of digital channels, and it’s easy to mine your own data. But that’s an overly simplistic answer. If the printing industry can study print + digital integration, certainly the digital industry can do it, too. If they want to. If they want to truly promote the power of cross-channel marketing, and if they want their customers to get the best possible results, why wouldn't they?
I’m turning the question over to you. Why do we not see print included in the overwhelming majority of studies on multichannel integration? Is it because content creators just want “easy”? Because they want to take the low-hanging fruit of readily available data whether it provides a complete picture or not? Or is it something else?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s solve the mystery together.