The Power of Interactive Communications: A Framework for Driving Customer Engagement with Print

For today’s commercial printers, having good tools is simply not enough to achieve growth. It is equally important for commercial printers to have a keen understanding of the possibilities of print as well as the business opportunities that can come out of these possibilities.

With more and more organizations competing for the same audience, marketers continue to seek ways to grab and hold the attention of their intended audience. As a result, many print providers have already reshaped their product mixes to include personalized print to help their clients differentiate and stand out. Research continues to show well-executed printed messaging remains integral to delivering engaging and effective communications. Due to the widespread availability of technology capable of personalization, however, brands must be even more creative with the stories they tell on paper.

Making a Case for Printed Communications

Making a compelling case for print starts with understanding the role it plays in marketing as well as acknowledging the goals today’s organizations are trying to achieve. At the center of every business, you’ll find the same fundamental efforts to support some common themes—retaining existing customers, winning back past customers, and attracting new customers. Each of those efforts is traditionally supported by various touchpoints and marketing activities.

Adding an interactive element to items like business cards, brochures, newsletters, and point-of-purchase displays (to name a view) is a viable practice for increasing the impact of the print on the page. A few of the most common elements leveraged to integrate print with digital and create an interactive experience include QR codes, NFC tags, and augmented reality (AR). The ability to engage your audience with timely, relevant, and interactive messaging can help establish loyalty and increase brand engagement.

Effective printed communications blend offline information with online information. By using a QR code, for example, you can unite offline audiences with online resources. Customers respond best to businesses that provide immediate access to information. Adding a QR code to a brochure or newsletter can grant them this access. In many cases, a QR code can prompt a consumer to act on an offer, place an order, register for an event, or follow directions to a physical business address.

The communication landscape is evolving, and printed messaging is naturally evolving in kind. Even in today’s digital world, print remains an important component of the media mix. Particularly when combined with other types of channels, printed communications are an effective way to inform, educate, and inspire consumers. Furthermore, with the growing emphasis on mixed media, there is a huge opportunity to create an interactive experience by combining printed communications with links to the digital world. For example, a printed piece with an interactive link that brings up an instructional video on the recipient’s phone can be a quick and effective way to provide examples on how to use a brand’s products or services. Think about how many customer service calls a link like this might prevent! This solution can be more cost-effective for enterprises while also providing a better experience for the customer.

Linking Print with Digital

What percentage of your print-based marketing messages have the following digital links or interactive enhancements? 29%: QR code linking to a general URL. 26%: QR code linking to a personalized URL. 24%: NFC tags (e.g. Apple's iBeacon). 23%: Virtual Reality (VR). 21%: Augmented Reality (AR). N=235 Enterprises in the U.S. and Canada.

Source: Annual State of Marketing Communications Business Research, Keypoint Intelligence –InfoTrends 2018.

When Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends asked a group of enterprises in North America about the ways they linked print with digital, using QR codes to connect to general URLs was more common than augmented reality applications. At the same time, however, the difference between the two was not substantial, and AR applications will likely become more common as businesses obtain a greater understanding of the value interactive print can deliver.

The Bottom Line

Industry leaders understand the importance of making a deliberate effort to improve the customer experience by maximizing each customer touchpoint with timely, relevant, personalized, and integrated messaging. Growth and development require considerations beyond the design of the communication, whether printed or delivered electronically. Choice, relevance, and consistency are the keys to communications that improve the customer experience. Conditioned by online interactions, today’s consumers have grown accustomed to accessing goods, services, and information at the touch of a button, on their terms. As a result, a well-designed document with interactive elements can connect the audience with a brand in a way static print can’t. Don’t let your customers miss out on the opportunity to increase brand awareness and provide a better customer experience!

Did you know… Direct mail garnishes a higher response rate than email, paid search, online ads, and social media combined.