About a month ago, I reported on a study done by InfoPrint Solutions
that indicated a preference for print among magazine readers. Your favorite mags may be thinner than they once were as advertisers redirect some of their print spend in other directions. But as it turns out, that may not be a bad idea.
Epsilon Targeted has just released a new study examining the effectiveness of various media
. Given the gloom-and-doom reports proclaiming the demise of nearly all types of print, one would expect such a study to show how consumers are dissing print for everything electronic. But that's not the case at all. Print, in fact, is still a favored medium, especially direct mail.
The Epsilon study is not the first to show this, and it reinforces the message that print—especially timely, relevant direct mail—is still a powerful medium. The data show direct mail to be considered more trustworthy and private than any other channel, and that the best results come when its integrated into a cross-media campaign. The findings also showed that the key factors behind media preference include convenience, trust, robustness of content and environmental values.
According to the research, the 2010 data also "...validated North American marketplace fragmentation, that is, consumers are using a greater variety of sources to meet their information gathering needs."
This reinforces the notion that direct marketers and print providers must use a fully integrated, data-driven, multi-channel approach to get the best results from their campaigns. Regardless of the demographic, marketers need to understand their audience and place added emphasis on those channels that consumers rely on most.
The study spanned 2,569 consumers aged 18 to 55 and above. It asked about preferred methods of gathering and receiving information about health issues, prescriptions, OTC medication, personal care, household and food products, travel, insurance, charitable causes, and financial and household services. Direct mail was the hands-down leader in each, with the exception of travel, where the Internet had a slight edge.
What's bound to rattle a few cages among the most ardent advocates of digital media are the attitudes of the sought-after 18-34 year-olds. They prefer, by a wide margin, to see marketing offers in postal mail and (gasp!) newspapers, rather than online sources such as social media platforms.
"In fact, for household and health products, and even insurance and financial services-related products, the preference among 18-34 year-olds for receiving marketing information from off-line sources—led by mail and newspapers—is two to three times greater than online sources such as social media," the study notes.
There's far more detail in the study than I can get into here, but the overriding takeaway is that direct mail remains a very important part of the marketing mix. Further, because the media preferences of any company's audiences differ, savvy marketers should be looking to offer up integrated programs that reach customers in the ways they prefer.
This is the essence of the multi-touch, integrated campaigns touted by companies such as interlinkONE, MindFire, XMPie and others. Each channel can play to its strength, and smart print providers can get a bigger share of a customer's wallet by offering both electronic and print media choices.