Print capabilities have advanced right alongside technology advancements, and both have recognized the effectiveness of working together. Whenever a new technology hits the marketplace, many declare the demise of the previous technology. This has happened with physical print and digital tools such as email, social media, along with others. This thinking could not be further from the truth. All technologies are existing in harmony. Print is alive and well. What has changed is print’s inclusion of interactive technologies on many of the print runs. The two are coexisting with favorable results such as increased awareness and lead generation. Let’s look at some facts.
Data shows that 88% believe they understand, retain, or use information better when they read it in print. In addition, 80% have a clear preference for reading complicated materials in print, in contrast to 13% for computer screens and 3% for smartphones. Of 18-to-24-year-old individuals, 69% say it is important to “switch off” and enjoy printed books and magazines once in a while.
The Association for Psychological Science stresses that taking notes with pen and paper boosts memory and our ability to understand better. How does this impact businesses? “Companies are looking for ways to enhance their customer’s experience by transforming their digital world into a physical one,” says Joanne Gore, President of the full-service B2B marketing agency Joanne Gore Communications Inc. and CMO of Taktiful. Designers want to transform the digital vision into a tangible one, while marketers mine data to provide a hyper-personal customer experience.” As I indicated earlier, technology and print work together to satisfy customers, designers, and marketers. Everyone wins.
When you make print interactive using QR codes, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), you bridge analog and digital worlds. You capture the attention of prospects and customers for a longer period of time and foster smoother business operations. Not only do these technologies bring print to life, but they also elevate digital-only tactics with long-lasting, memorable, and sensory experiences that only print can provide.
“Our brains are all fundamentally the same,” says Kevin Abergel, who today is president of Taktiful Marketing, a firm that specializes in consulting with printers, manufacturers, and brands on how to harness the power of Touch Marketing. “What unites us is the subconscious need to touch and connect. I often used this philosophy in my sales. Whenever I would show a sample to a prospective buyer, I would always point out that the sense of touch is an essential part of human interaction, and by recreating it through haptic technology, I would point out what their thumbs were doing when they looked at the printed sample. They subconsciously were ‘petting’ the print. I would then tell prospects the stats around the science of touch—its effect on perceived ownership and affective response, and how powerful of a sales tool that could be for them and their customers.”
Let’s consider examples of tactically interactive printed postcard options to further show what I mean about how printed pieces enhance the recipients’ response. According to Trish Witkowski, a well-known designer and content creator recognized as the leading print/folding expert, she offers the following examples:
Use special print effects to catch customers’ attention.
One of the smartest things you can do with print marketing is to leverage its tangibility. This can be done inexpensively whether you’re printing short-run digital, longer-run offset, or inkjet printing. Create texture and visual contrast in exciting ways with special print effects including varnishes and coatings in different finishes (gloss, satin, dull, matte), UV coatings in different textures (grit, soft-touch, glitter, high gloss, etc.), specialty laminating films, and raised clear digital ink. Other finishing effects like foil stamping, embossing, and debossing can add a distracting pop of interest to the card as well. Don’t forget specialty inks like neon, metallic, and white ink, too.
Tempt them to scan it with their phone.
If you had said to me in 2020 that QR codes would have a Renaissance, I never would have believed you—but since the pandemic, everyone now knows how to scan a QR code, and will do so willingly. According to an analysis by MobStac, the use of QR codes increased 45% between 2020-2021. MobStac expects QR code usage to double in 2022. So, why not use them? In its simplest form, a QR code can be placed on a postcard or other printed pieces to drive people to whatever mobile-friendly experience you’d like to send them to. They’re cheap, easy, and as a marketer, you can get a lot of data communicated once they’ve been scanned, which is pretty cool.
Add personalization to make it relevant.
Which piece of mail would you look at – the one with your name on it and images that interest you, or the one that looks like it could be for anybody? You know the answer. In fact, 84% of participants in an InfoTrends study said that personalization of a direct mail piece makes customers more likely to open/read it. Personalized mail makes the recipient feel important and respected. So, why not use today’s technology to personalize your postcard campaigns? It’s just not that hard.
Make it stand out from the crowd.
Think about the subtle pattern of what you tend to get in the mailbox every day—a couple of bills in #10 window envelopes, a catalog or two, maybe a postcard mailer, a newsprint circular of some sort with shopping coupons in it. Sound familiar? Now think about what you could do to stand out in that everyday pile of mail.
Size is one of the easiest variables you can play with to stand out, using oversized postcards (or “billboards” as they call them in the mail industry) to get attention. Regarding postcard size, it’s important to note that recently the USPS changed the size specifications for postcard mail, now allowing cards as large as 6 x 9” to qualify for postcard rates. This is a huge deal that no one is talking about. The maximum postcard size used to be 4.25 x 6”, and because Postcard mailing rates are much lower than letter mailing rates, this newly increased size is great news for marketers—more real estate for content, better presence in the mailbox, and lower postage. You can certainly blast past the 6″ x 9” size and make billboard mailers as large as 12″ x 15”—you’ll just pay more for postage (and production), so before you design an oversized postcard, make sure you strategize with your printer based on your goals and your budget.
Add a surprise for them to find.
An inexpensive way to add something fun and surprising to a postcard mailer is by adding “peel and reveal” areas to the card. Take a 2-panel card and glue the panels together, leaving only the areas that will peel up unglued. A simple perforation around the edge will make it easy to lift and see what’s underneath. The action, the sound it makes, and the discovery can be totally satisfying for the recipient. Your printer can help you with the production details. Consider revealing a question-and-answer series, hidden images, or a special offer as a starting point.”
Let’s look further at the use of digital technology combined with analog printed pieces. When you make print interactive using QR codes, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), you bridge analog and digital worlds. You capture the attention of prospects and customers for a longer period of time and foster smoother business operations. Not only do these technologies bring print to life they elevate digital-only tactics with long-lasting, memorable, and sensory experiences that only print can provide.
QR codes make it easy to drive customers to pURLs, URLs, landing pages, surveys, videos, contact information, featured promos, and more—without having to navigate through website menus and submenus. Adding Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality elements helps keep them there. An overall winning combination for sure.
Sensory or haptic marketing is an advertising strategy intended to appeal to one or more of the five human senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. “We have become more and more reliant on technology,” Abergel says. “The sense of touch is an essential part of human interaction, and by recreating it through haptic technology, we can bridge the gap that has been created by our increasingly digital lives.” Many marketers are looking for ways to make their campaigns stand out and offer something unique that will capture consumers’ attention. and “Haptic marketing provides a way to do just that.” In addition, haptic marketing can be used to create a sense of urgency or excitement around a product or service. By stimulating the sense of touch, marketers can create a “buzz” that will encourage consumers to take action.
I encourage you to take advantage of analog print combined with digital technology. Customers, marketers, and brands recommend or respond well to this combination. The result? The response from customers increases, marketers gain access to useful data, and the brands increase awareness and satisfied/new customers for their business. Everybody wins!
For more information on combining print and digital, contact your Think Patented account executive or call 937.353.2299.