Print or digital: Optimising your marketing dollars

By Kathleen Aoki

Here's a look at both print and digital advertising and how integrating the two can help optimise your marketing dollars.

Digital marketing strategies are getting a lot of attention these days, leaving some small business owners wondering what to do. Should they continue with traditional methods such as print ads or direct mailers, for example, or start funnelling more resources into online campaigns?

The answer is that it generally takes both to be successful, and how much of each to use in your marketing strategy should be based on a combination of factors including your target market, objectives and budget. Here's a look at both types of advertising and how integrating the two can help optimise your marketing dollars.

The pros of print

Despite their relatively higher cost, traditional campaigns, especially direct mail, are shown to have high conversion rates. The reason for this is that printed materials are more visible and "in hand" to potential customers, making them less likely to be ignored. After all, you can't just delete a billboard or brochure.

According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Factbook for 2013, 65 per cent of consumers have made a purchase at some point as a result of direct mail, proving that print advertising is still an attractive option in today's business climate. To further increase conversion rates in your print campaigns, always include your website's URL and have an e-commerce-enabled site, as many shoppers prefer to buy online.

The pros of digital

Digital campaigns are rapidly gaining in popularity due to their ability to reach a wide audience at a low cost. Nowadays, it's fairly simple to send out a classy EDM or electronic ad campaign with the help of online marketing tools and social media.

These tools also make it easy to view metrics about the success of your campaigns, as well as gather vital information about your customers and their online behaviours, which is invaluable in designing and fine-tuning your marketing efforts. Indeed, some marketers prefer digital because it can be easier to measure ROI and the cost of lead acquisition as compared to print campaigns.

Using a combination of both

While the trend does seem to be in favour of digital, the key is to creatively combine the different advertising media in your campaigns to achieve the greatest impact. For instance, a consumer might see an ad for a product in the newspaper, then go to the company's website. Or they might see a QR code on a poster, then use their smartphone to download a free coupon.

As such, look for ways to combine both methods in order to get the most bang for your buck. For example, when sending direct mail, always include your website address so consumers can find your company online. Similarly, when advertising online, you can direct consumers to request more information via a catalogue or brochure. And QR codes bridge both worlds by providing a direct link from print to digital with the touch of button.

So to optimise your marketing dollars, you first need understand your particular target market and how they interact with various media. From there, you can create campaigns that creatively make use of both print and digital in mutually supportive ways.


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