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How to prove print’s ROI in the marketing mix

Making print measurable

Fuel Emotion with Print direct mail on desk

Print’s role in a digital marketing world

Running a marketing campaign takes time, resource and money. But once you have all of these in place, how do you know if your campaigns have been successful? The answer is in understanding what channels are performing well and how to improve those that aren’t. But according to ITSMA and Vision Edge Marketing, 74% of marketers are not able to measure or report how their efforts impact their business1.

One reason could be that today’s marketing efforts are multi-faceted, highlighting the complex consumer journey that spans various channels and touchpoints. From browsing a website and social media profile to walking into the physical store, there are now many ways for consumers to interact with a brand.

However, with the rise of digital, there’s no longer any excuse for failing to analyse marketing data to monitor campaign performance. Digital has the ability to track consumers across their buying journey and provide valuable information to marketers in real-time. It gives brands the capability to alter their campaigns and tailor them according to consumer tastes for the most effective results.

But what happens when you involve print advertising in the marketing mix? What is the impact of including, say, direct mail, posters and POS displays? Many marketers take the view that you cannot measure promotional printed marketing collateral as effectively as digital. So how can we prove its value and positive impact on ROI?

(1) - Forbes, 6 Oct 2017. Tracking Your Marketing Efforts: Why It's Important And How To Start

Woman scanning tag on clothing

Creating measurable metrics

Print campaigns can be innovative avenues for brand communication in a world where consumers are facing digital overload. To measure offline marketing accurately, marketers should look to understand consumer trends and their customers’ behaviours, so that they can gain visibility into where, when, and how their printed media can be most successful.

Advances in digital print solutions mean that brands can now measure print campaigns just as effectively as digital. We are all familiar with coupons and voucher codes, but tools such as smart posters with Near Field Communication (NFC), QR codes and Augmented Reality (AR) can offer new ways of tracking the impact of printed marketing collateral.

At the simpler end of the print marketing spectrum, brands can use geo-specific content and response mechanisms to target micro-audiences in select places – for example, in travel hubs or street locations. This approach allows them to provide more targeted marketing promotions, while also being able to better understand how their printed media is performing.

Taking it a step further, marketers may also capitalise on the growing trend to combine printed graphics with other visual communication technologies to grab consumers’ attention. These tools can stimulate interaction by linking images or text on printed collateral with online stills, videos and animations, enhancing the customer’s overall brand experience.

Susan Fulczynki presenting at Future Promotion Forum 2018

Print’s ability to use variable data

Digital print is also being used by some brands as a smart way to re-engage online customers who have dropped out of a buying ‘journey’. You can now use variable data from digital sources to create customised and targeted promotional printed communication – and do so cost-effectively, in a timely manner.

As a result, brands can effectively monitor, tailor and measure ROI on print advertisements as part of their wider brand campaigns.

Speaking at Canon’s recent Future Promotion Forum event, Susan Fulczynski, Process & Project Manager at Hamburg-based fashion retailer Bonprix, said, “By intelligently using our customer data, we can respond to each customer's personal preferences and user behaviours, enabling us to add a personal touch to the promotional material we create and increasing the conversion rate to buy."

Using print personalisation to target offers more precisely at individuals through mailings, catalogues and other elements of the marketing mix, Bonprix has achieved a significant increase in response rates and conversion.

Printed marketing collateral for Bonprix

Seamlessly switching between print and digital

Bonprix is just one forward-thinking brand leveraging the advantages of digital print technology to produce printed marketing collateral and using it to monitor engagement with its customers.

Printed marketing now has the ability to tie in seamlessly with a digitally-led campaign. Print-on-demand and programmatic print work hand in hand with digital marketing, and can be beneficial in a range of online marketing scenarios such as lead generation, ‘bounce rate’ or abandoned basket management, as well as conversion rate optimisation.

An added-value approach to print marketing, through specific targeting or personalisation, can show measurable commercial returns for brand clients, with improved response to marketing campaigns that result in an increase in product sales. Ultimately, these can prove print’s ROI within the wider omni-channel marketing mix.

Written by Tino Wägelein
Business Development Manager, Canon Europe


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