Integrating print in a digital world

Print marketing is becoming a less and less important part of the marketer’s toolbox. But there are still times when print can play a major role in your B2b or B2C marketing strategy, especially when it’s integrated with your online strategy. Here are just a few ways to use print to enhance your digital marketing:

1. Use QR codes on printed pieces

“Quick Response Codes” do just what they say. A user views the QR code on an ad, poster, or the back of your business card using a smartphone app and the smart phone’s browser takes them quickly to a page on the web. Provide a relevant, meaningful, beneficial experience when a mobile user gets to your landing page through a QR code:

  • Direct the viewer to a mobile-optimized version of your website.
  • Show a digital business card including a photo and bio.
  • Let the user RSVP to an event.
  • Show a video or play audio.
  • Show a case study or portfolio.
  • Give an instant discount.
  • Let the visitor sign up for a loyalty club.
street sign online print

Whatever you present should be a worthwhile and robust experience. Too many QR codes lead to a home page on a website with no special “bonus” for the QR viewer. And, track results by using custom QR codes for different programs to easily analyze the effectiveness of your QR codes.

2. Personalize it

Including a personalized URL (PURL) on a printed direct mail piece (or email) is a great way to get users to visit a site optimized just for them. Make sure when recipients take the time to type in the PURLs, that you have personalized their landing page. If you’re asking them to sign up for something, pre-populate the fields with their information and tailor images and your offer to their needs. This type of direct mail is highly trackable, and using PURLs can double your response rate on direct mail.

3. Do one-on-one social media marketing

With the cost of short-run digital printing falling, it’s possible to create highly personalized, hyper-targeted pieces to interact with your fans/followers on your social media sites in the real world. Consider asking for addresses from your loyal fans, and mail something valuable with a request for a follow-up. An example of a successful piece by Jeff Becker of was a box customized with a PURL and personalized graphics containing iPod headphones and offering an iPod if the recipient would sign up for a one-on-one meeting with a company representative. The piece drew a 22% response rate and the business generated more than paid for the cost of the program.  In a Baylor study, marketers got a 75% increase in response rate by mailing something that was bulky or in a box.

Although print is not as big a marketing tactic anymore, make the most of printed pieces to integrate your offline and online marketing. Creating a campaign that incorporates both print and digital design can improve response rates and offer engaging online user experiences.