Closing The Chasm Between Print And Digital Marketing Channels

While taking a lunch break poolside at the Email Evolution Conference in Miami, I saw a curious thing happen. A woman sitting next to me had a printed coupon book (direct mail piece) from Target with her. She carefully inspected each coupon, and when she came to one that she liked, she took a picture of it with her smart phone. After watching her repeat the process several times, I asked her what she was doing. “I’m taking pictures of these coupons and saving them to my phone so I’ll have them with me when I go to the store. I’m always forgetting to bring the book.”

Here’s a perfect example of how consumer behavior is evolving; of why brands need to embrace digital marketing technologies and work to integrate them with direct mail and print; of how the new point of sale is everywhere thanks to mobile devices.

Target could have chosen to include a unique QR code or SMS text element on each coupon allowing a consumer to:

  • have specific coupons delivered to their smart phone or mobile device via email
  • redeem the coupon and make an immediate purchase from their smart phone
  • sign up to receive email or SMS text alerts of future promotions on the same or similar items
  • share the coupon with friends on Facebook, Twitter, or via email

The list of possibilities goes on, and you can watch a short video for more examples. Blending sophisticated digital technologies with traditional media not only gives consumers a more robust and engaging brand experience, marketers are able to leverage those digital technologies to:

  • effectively track responses from offline channels in real time
  • collect consumer data in order to personalize communications and provide more relevant content
  • expand brand reach by connecting offline with online, allowing viral sharing
  • increase response rates and more effectively measure ROI

Again, the list of possibilities goes on. It’s stunning to me to see how many opportunities brands are leaving on the table by not leveraging digital technologies or developing solid marketing integration strategies that include both online and offline channels.  I’m only left with more questions as to why it’s so hard for brands to close the chasm between print and digital marketing channels:

  • Are brands not aware of all the digital marketing technologies and capabilities (such as qr codes, SMS texting, variable data digital printing, etc) available today?
  • Are brands resistant to using these digital technologies because they think their consumer is not savvy or ready to use them?
  • Are companies operating in such silos that it’s difficult for them to collaborate and effectively manage internal communications between teams (mobile marketing teams, email marketing teams, direct mail and print teams, social community managers, etc) in order to integrate traditional marketing efforts with digital marketing efforts)?

Your thoughts?