Recently, I was contacted by a research firm wanting to interview me on the topic of print retargeting. The research was being done on behalf of a large retailer that was left unnamed. Retargeting with print? From a retailer large enough to commission a study? I was in. Never mind what they wanted to know from me. I wanted to know more about them.

What’s interesting here is that retail is king of digital marketing. Retailers are pushing the edge of omnichannel marketing and responsive personalization. They are doing incredible things tying together social, mobile, and real-time personalization. They are experts at digital retargeting in all of its various manifestations. So what is causing the current interest in retargeting with print?

1. Return to direct mail.

Things like digital fatigue, ad blockers, and spam filters, along with the increased use of email addresses specifically for marketing emails, are taking their toll. We are increasingly hearing about marketers, including retailers, rediscovering the value of direct mail.

I think of one case study that doesn't get enough attention. It’s from a Belgian retailer that wanted to re-engage lapsed email subscribers. Since the retailer couldn’t use methods that require opt-in, it turned to direct mail. The retailer sent a “we miss you” postcard with a generous discount on recipients’ next purchase. The re-engagement was huge—nearly two-thirds (64%) of lapsed customers placed an order.

Retailers may not want to start out with print, but they are starting to realize that where their digital marketing efforts are falling short, print becomes a tool they can’t live without.

2. Growing interest in neuroscience as part of the value of print

This is something we’re hearing about more and more. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the realization that digital cannot simply replace print. Neuroscience studies answer the question why. There is something about our brains that responds to print differently.

This research is coming from print-supporting agencies like the Canada Post (“A Bias for Action”) and the U.S. Postal Service (“Tuned In: The Brain’s Response to Ad Sequencing”), as well as a growing number of universities, and the body of literature is growing.

Retailers may not be moving toward print retargeting because of neuroscience, but the increased visibility accompanying those studies certainly helps. It reinforces that print has a place in marketing that digital cannot replicate.

3. Growing recognition of the power of print in a digital world, even among Millennials

I’ve covered a lot of research that shows that not only do consumers respond positively to direct mail, but Millennials do, too. This is counter-intuitive, but the data present a consistent picture. If Millennials see the value of print, retailers pay attention.

What does all this have to do with print retargeting?

It’s a reality that marketers are going to start with what’s easiest and gets the biggest return for the most money. For this reason, many are in love with digital. But when they want to boost those results, they go back to print. Retailers may not always be willing to start out with print, but they are bringing it in when and where digital marketing isn’t enough.

As experts in retargeting, retailers also understand the value of tracking customer interest and reinforcing that interest with follow-up touches. Combine that with the trend above and the rise of retargeting with print just makes sense.

Are you offering retargeting with print? If so, send me a link to your service offering and I’ll do a follow-up post on who is offering what.