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  • Writer's picturePolymorphic Marketing

Print vs. Digital, oh that old argument!

Since the dawn of the internet a print vs. digital argument has raged around the marketing community.

Every argument, pro and con, good versus bad position has been raked over across a whole array of marketing books and blogs. Some argue in favour of the trackability and analytics benefits of digital, whilst others delve deeply into neuroscience and the emotional response that a printed physical piece can give a customer.

If you are interested in some bedtime reading then check out this report - Enhancing the Value of Mail: The Human Response.

There are arguments about cost, sustainability, and reach of printed materials, whilst others argue about digital fatigue. Indeed, with the onset of the coronavirus crisis everyone is spending more time online, so it may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, however this could be a real opportune time for brands to send something physical to their customers, and really differentiate themselves from competition.

So, having said all of the above, in this blog post we wanted to move past the old arguments and look at some simple and effective tips to get the most out of each type of media.

In reality we live in a world of omnichannel marketing, in which the most effective marketing campaigns combine both print and digital media. The idea that the two are in competition isn’t the case at all and leads many businesses to not realise maximum gains from their marketing.

Life science marketing, Print Vs. digital marketing content


1. Track & gate

Digital marketing gives you the ability to track how people are interacting with your content, so ensure you are actually using the data.

When putting digital content online you have the ability to make the content freely available or to “gate” it. Gating content requires customers to give a little bit of information about themselves before they can access the content. Gating content has grown into one of the most contentious issues (yes there will probably be a blog post on it at some point!).

Gating content will help you grow the number of qualified leads you may get, however it may prevent some customers from engaging further with you. Be mindful in your approach, gate with purpose, define your goals upfront and A/B test.

2. Use multimedia visuals

One of the great benefits of digital is the ability to embed cool visuals into a piece. Using videos, GIFs, animations or other multimedia elements will help build more engaging content for your customers. If a picture can say a thousand words, then imagine what an animation can communicate!

3. Highlight keywords or phrases

Because of the nature of web use people tend to skim rather than read in-depth digital pieces, therefore it is good to keep digital content shorter than their equivalent printed versions. As people tend to scan read digital print then it’s also helpful to highlight keywords or phrases.

4. What’s your call to action?

Digital pieces allow the reader to click through to next steps. So, ensure you have a clear and well thought through call to action. Let your audience know exactly what you want them to do, for example:

  • If you’re promoting a newsletter or white paper? Start your CTA with words like “download” or “subscribe”

  • If you want someone to request more information? Try “click here to learn more…” or “find out how…”

  • If you have e-commerce? Make sure your customer can easily find where to buy the product, with words like “buy”, “shop”, or “order now”

5. Get social

Digital pieces can easily be shared across social media platforms, reaching new leads and growing engagement. Ensure you give people the opportunity to like, share and follow your content.


To help uncover some of the ways to get the best out of printed marketing collateral we have enlisted the help of Claire McFadden, Managing Director of Full Square. Established in 2005, Full Square is a print and promotions business built on decades of experience in sales promotion.

1. Use great colours and visuals

Colour is very important when you are a printer. Not least because we are often asked questions about why colours look different in print to when viewed on screen (see here for why). It’s critical to use good high resolution photography and graphics.

The printing industry has really evolved over the past few years and there are lots of new techniques we can use to make your printed pieces look incredibly engaging. For example, we can now print spot metallic colours, clear varnishes and even white ink digitally, giving very impressive and shiny results. Multi-image digital also gives you the ability to really personalise a piece at no extra cost, adding names or other information from your data source.

2. Form and function

The great thing about physical printed marketing is that you can be really playful. Printed pieces don’t always need to be a 4 sided square or rectangle in shape. You can be very creative with different shapes of your pieces, so for example you could die-cut that boring rectangular flyer into the shape of your product or even a bacteria!

Think about the function of your piece. Could you turn a product guide into a reference chart or poster that could be put up on the laboratory wall?

3. Add some dimension

Dimensional mailers are pieces that have a third dimension beyond the length and width. They include boxes, tubes, containers and even pop up 3D shapes. You can be very creative with them, using each of their surfaces to print information and branding on.

4. Bundle

Why not include a sample product or gift inside your mailing. As the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the amount of in-person meetings sending a sample product out through the mail has become really important.

However rather than just sending out your product in a plain old jiffy bag you can use dimensional mailing to make your product look special and really stand out. You can print important things like the product features and benefits, or the instructions for use on the packaging. A bespoke insert tray or laser-cut foam insert can not only protect the sample in transit but adds value and yet another surface to print on.

Secondary packaging can also be used very effectively to upsell larger volumes of product – bundling items together in their existing boxes with a wrap-around sleeve, for example, gives you another branding opportunity on the outer wrapper or can replace transit packaging when appropriately designed.

5. Next steps

People fixate on the click through journey that digital marketing can take a customer on. You can use printed pieces to do the same, try using QR codes with links through to special actions to take your customers on their next steps and ultimately through to purchase. For example, if you are sending out a demo product then make sure it has the QR code printed on it which takes the customer straight to the ordering pages on your website.

Your printed and digital marketing collateral should work hand in hand with each other to maximise your growth.

Polymorphic Marketing offer free of charge consultancy calls - click here to book a check-in with us



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