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Print’s Not Dead: When paper beats digital

Print’s Not Dead: When paper beats digital

If recent marketing trends were a variant of ‘rock, paper, scissors,’ companies have been playing as if digital always beats paper. Marketing has shifted away from flyers and mailers and other hard-copy advertisements and into email marketing, web content, and on-demand electronic files.

Well, folks, prepare to throw ‘paper’ on the count of three, because it turns out paper still and always wins.

What Works (Hint: It’s Paper)

According to the Canadian neuromarketing firm TrueImpact and a separate study published by researchers from Temple University, paper is still the way to go in regards to connecting with clients and potential customers. Paper based products were shown to create a higher level of product recall and were easier to understand than digital counterparts.

Think about this, paper is still the marketing option that is easier for customers to understand and easier for them to remember over digital. Four of the top five tested marketing strategies in theTrueImpact study are paper-based. They include, in order of effectiveness rank, scented envelopes, dimensional (3-D) mailers, envelopes, and dimensional mailers with sound. The only digital form of marketing cracking the top five is email checked from a smartphone.

Why It Works

It can seem a little backwards, almost old-fashioned, to rely on paper-based marketing, but that’s also a big reason it can be so effective. For one thing, paper feels real. Customers and clients can hold a paper mailer, feel it in their hands, and directly interact with the material. They can feel the thickness of the paper, the weight, and it’s a thing that can be placed down and later revisited. Most digital marketing is quickly scanned and either deleted or lost in the unending push of incoming data to smartphones and laptops.

And, maybe you’re wondering why paper-based marketing is easier to comprehend and recall than digital. According to a study at San Jose State University, Screen‐based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one‐time reading, non‐linear reading, and reading more selectively. This means that less time is spent on in‐depth reading and concentrated reading. Basically, someone reading your paper mailer is holding just your paper mailer and reading. Someone reading your emailed marketing is holding a phone, a web browser, is likely on the move, and likely has many other unread messages to read.

So when you get together with your marketing team and start counting to three, be ready to stick with paper, because paper still always wins.