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Digital Print Marketing Versus Digital Online Marketing (Part One)

You may know the old marketing joke: “I know 50% of my marketing budget is being wasted, but I don’t know which 50%”. Well, with online marketing, make that: “I know 98% of my marketing is being wasted, but I don’t know what to do about it!”

Considering that the average CTR (click-through rate) hovers around 2%, and that the average CVR (conversion rate) ranges around 2 – 5%, the new “joke” has a good basis. Yet Internet and mobile advertising is growing rapidly: Ad Age predicts that online advertising will represent 36% of all ad spending by 2019. As well, there is a whole new generation of “digital” agencies and startup companies whose teams only know, and use, what they refer to as “digital” marketing. Traditional marketing – including broadcast, print advertising, and direct mail – is now often called “old-school” and neglected.

Some “Traditional” Marketing is Very Digital

When we talk about “digital” versus “traditional” marketing we’re really talking about online versus offline marketing. Why? Because there is some very digital offline marketing, including digital print marketing. Rhino Digital provides digital printing for a whole array of marketing efforts, so we know what we’re talking about. Digital printing is much more flexible than many of the marketing methods that are referred to under the “traditional marketing” umbrella. If you use QR codes, variable data and PURLs (Personal URL: more in upcoming blogs) digital print married to online marketing becomes very flexible – and effective – indeed.

Email and Direct Mail Digital Print Marketing

It’s a truism that everyone hates getting direct mail in their mailbox – a truism, but not always true. So when email marketing came along it seemed like a great alternative to the mailbox glut. Now there is so much email marketing that everyone is overwhelmed by it, making direct mail a good alternative.

The fact is, people do hate getting marketing…unless they are interested in it. If you’re looking for a new couch and you get a post card about a great couch sale, you’re very interested. So the big thing that email and direct mail marketing have in common is targeting; getting the right message to the right people. The second thing they have in common is that they both drive direct response. That response can be to go to a store and buy it, go to a website and buy it – or perform some other desired action.

Digital Direct Mail and Email: More Alike than You Might Think

Email and direct mail are both targeted using customer data and customer address lists; both can effectively reach these customers. And both can be personalized – if the direct mail is done using digital printing and VDP (variable Data Printing). So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Email Open Rates Versus Direct Mail

You can send an email immediately to anyone. But you can’t make them open that email. According to Mail Chimp most companies’ open rates are below 20%. You have a subject line, and nothing else, to make your email stand out amongst the hundred other emails your recipient got that morning. Some people simply select “all” in their promotions tab and delete the emails without ever looking at the subject lines.

Alternatively, according to the USPS 98% of Americans check their mail every day. An Epsilon Research study shows that 77% of people sort through that mail. That means good design and on-point messaging are two strong tools you have to grab their attention. If you personalize with variable data and include a compelling offer, the odds are better yet that your prospect will keep your postcard and act on it.

A Matter of Trust

Ransonware, malware, phishing schemes, and plain old annoying spam – these are all reasons why people increasingly distrust email. Physical mail does not include suspicious links or attachments that make people wary. A USPS study shows that 69% of people also feel than mail is more personal than the Internet.

Message Retention and Sales

You can see email; you can see and touch physical mail. Psychologically, that makes a huge difference for humans: A study by neuro-marketing firm TrueImpac found that direct mail is both easier to understand and more memorable. Brand name recall was 70% higher for recipients of a direct mail piece than a digital ad.

People interact with, retain, and share direct mail. That leads to conversion. According to a Direct Mail Marketing Association study, fully 66% of people have bought something, and 70% have restarted an abandoned brand relationship, as a result of direct mail.

So Which Media is “Better”? The Answer Is…Both.

Hands down, email is better for international campaigns, while direct mail excels at local and national (for national brands). Email is also far easier to use for testing messages and offers. And if the email is successful, ROI can add up far faster than paper mail – not because of its greater effectiveness, but due to the low cost of execution. That’s why we don’t suggest using either email or digital direct mail exclusively. Instead, choose the best tool for a given campaign, or combine them for excellent results.

Need Help with Your Digital Direct Mail Campaign? Get in Touch!

We’re the digital direct mail experts in the Portland, Oregon area. For more information, check out our website at: Or better yet, give us a call at: 503-233-2477. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

Look for our next two blogs in this online versus offline marketing series:

Using Variable data, QR codes, and PURLs to Personalize Your Direct Digital Mail

Using Online and Digital Print Marketing Together for Best Results

Rhino Digital