If you’re asking yourself when to make the leap from print to digital, the answer is probably: now.
Many of us are just so familiar with the concept of printed products – newspapers, books, business cards, reports – forming the very basis of business, but times have changed.
There are myriad strong reasons for moving your comms output online.
First things first: it’s cheaper
While cost shouldn’t rule your content, it’s foolish to deny that finances play a huge part in business. Whereas print products require physical proofs, printing, and distribution, there are fewer such considerations for email. Proofs become instant test emails, printing becomes saving an online draft, and distribution constitutes the single click of a button to a tailored mailing list. Most email hosting and e-marketing sites offer packages with all of this rolled into a single monthly payment – or you have the option to pay by recipient or send-out. Overall, it’s very cost-effective.
It’s quicker, and lead times are shorter
Sending out, say, 10 emails takes just as long as 10,000 – much of the time investment occurs up front, and subsequent activity is far quicker. Set up tailored mailing lists, create a template for your e-newsletter, and a huge part of your preparation is done. When compared to the time taken – and thus money spent – to prepare and distribute a printed product each month, the difference is huge. Shorter lead times also mean you can be far more timely, topical, and relevant to your subscribers; if news breaks, you can address it. If there’s a new trending topic, you can tailor your content to suit. Relevance is key to marketing – and digital facilitates relevancy.
You can track reader activity
While it is possible to understand how well-received a printed product has been, the analysis and behavioural insight it’s possible to glean from digital content is on another level entirely. You can figure out if people are reading your copy, clicking on your call-to-actions, if they’re especially engaged, and so much more – essentially, digital content offers you a straightforward and amazingly detailed way to explore what works for your audience, and what doesn’t. This is invaluable in optimising your content in the future, and, over time, will help you to increase engagement and drive readers to work with or purchase from you.
Online content is customisable…
Have you ever received an email newsletter from a company that begins with a personal greeting – ‘Hi, Freya!’ – or seems to offer you information that’s especially relevant to your location or browsing interests? We’re willing to bet you have – because this is one of the key benefits to going digital. Customer information, demographics, and behaviour can all be used as a way to better target the appropriate sectors of your mailing lists (i.e. your audience), and build a connection that seems more personal, and has the potential to be far more effective.
…as well as being both integrated and shareable
Digital content can become fully integrated with your overall engagement strategy. In other words, a reader’s activity has a direct impact on website traffic, social media shares, and engagement – your wider presence in the e-marketplace. A reader may click through to your website from an email you send them. They may like an article you highlight, and share it on LinkedIn. They may review your business on Facebook or TripAdvisor. All of this plays into your company’s success and affects how your audience perceives you, and it’s all wrapped up in one digital bundle of activity. With print, you may share your URL or QR code, but this relies on your reader being hugely engaged, and taking the time to shift medium to type your website into their browser – a massive ask. If a reader opts to tell a friend about something they read in a print newsletter, there is value to this, of course – but your audience is far smaller, and your motivational hurdles higher.
Why not both?
Sometimes, the choice isn’t so simple. For instance, you risk losing some tangibility with digital – there will always be a romanticism and a different experience that accompanies reading a physical product versus a website or email. It’s also important to consider ROI – producing 25,000 email newsletters may be cheaper than 25,000 brochures, but it’s worth considering print if your digital ROI is far less for your specific audience or sector. If you’re unsure which to choose, or loath to drop your print activities in favour of digital so abruptly, then consider both. Many companies opt to distribute both printed and emailed newsletters, bringing together the benefits of both.
This also gives your readers a choice. You’re probably familiar with bank communications that ask if you’d prefer to receive printed or e-statements: this offers customers the chance to choose the way(s) in which they interact with that company or brand. For example, some customers may be more au fait with online accounts, and be happy to opt for more eco-friendly e-statements – but others may prefer letters to help them stay on top of their outgoings and remember to pay their bills. Even if you’re currently 100% print in your comms, why not consider giving your customers the option of electronic comms?
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