University study makes business case for combining print and digital

June 15th, 2017 | by Steve Falk, President of Prime Data |

Temple University was so impressed with the way printed mail delivered results in a recent study, they’ve made it part of their multi-channel marketing program to enrol Masters students.

The study conducted by Temple University and paid for by the United States Postal Service (USPS) has found that email and physical mail provide an effective 1-2 punch when used together.  

The paper, released by the USPS and presented at the annual National Postal Forum (NPF), used a combination of neuroscience and statistical information to quantify the relationship between physical mail and digital channels and how different combinations affect business outcomes.

This isn’t the first study to make the connection. Last year I wrote another post that showed the benefits of multi-channel marketing that combines print and digital.

In that study, campaigns that used a combination of print, email, social media and mobile applications had an average response rate of 9.5%, compared to 7.9% in campaigns that used email only.

And while a difference of 1.6% may not sound like a lot, in large campaigns this can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Better brand recall and more sales

But having a better response rate is only one of the benefits. Researchers in this new study also found that when print and digital are used together, not only did people have better brand recall, they also had a higher willingness to pay more when there were advertisements running across multiple channels.

A consumer’s willingness to not only pay for products but actually pay more for those products was one of the more surprising findings and something a lot of premium brands are no doubt going to pay attention to.

So how persuasive were the results? Well, the marketing department for Temple University is changing its recruiting program to use both digital and physical mail together because they see the extra benefit of using both technologies in tandem.

Make print and digital marketing more effective

When one reads this kind of study there is a temptation to drag the marketing department in and add a mailer to the list of campaign to-dos. But that’s missing a great opportunity to further get into the heads of customers. That’s because a little strategic thinking about the information you already have can make this digital/print combo work even better.

Using online triggers to send custom print pieces based on a customer’s history with your brand within hours of a site visit is one way to take the online experience and make it an offline engagement opportunity that increases the chance of making a sale.

These kinds of studies are great because they demonstrate how wrong-headed the recent trend of digital-only has been for retailers and others. A move toward a more balanced approach that brings together new and old technologies hits all the right buttons for consumers and accelerates sales growth. If you want to talk about how to implement a print and digital solution using customer data, give me a call.

Posted in News.