Is Print Dead? No Way! Here are 5 Ways to Incorporate Print and Digital Marketing

By Susan Tucker

Yes, I am a digital marketer and I truly and firmly believe that online, digital and inbound marketing should be a core part of any small or growing businesses’ marketing strategy. The fact is, 89% of US adults are online. As a result, companies have shifted all their energies and efforts to online marketing.

However, I am noticing a pendulum swing of some sorts – now that most businesses’ marketing efforts have been shifting to online marketing, traditional marketing tactics are becoming freer and freer of “clutter.” Have you noticed how light your mail has become lately?

That got me thinking … how can businesses tap into this newly “freed up” marketing space and still reach their digital marketing goals?

Here are ways to combine your print marketing and digital marketing. 

Business Cards

Scan the QR Code in my card to see where it will take you!

I have been so on the ‘digital bandwagon’ that I didn’t even have business cards until about a year ago. I had become one of those “business card snobs” – I figured that if someone wanted to find me they could just Google me (in fact, if you Google “Susan Marketing” mine is the first website to pop up) however at the insistence of my business consultant, I caved. And, do you know what, it was a great move. I used it as an opportunity to connect my digital life with my real life by adding a QR code directing folks to my newsletter sign up form.

There is a whole slew of of codes you can create for your card; newsletter sign up, a contact card, a YouTube video, a mobile optimized landing page… the list goes on! The fact is, that your business card is usable space for directing potential customers to more information online.


Designer: LaKripTa from the website:

Your brochures are a place to shine offline. Bigger than a business card, more informative than a magazine ad and less time-sensitive than a newsletter, a brochure can really showcase the personality of your business.

Tips for brochures:

  • think outside-the-box on design; use an unusual shape, add inserts, make a part of it usable (such as a magnet or postcard).
  • speak to your audience in a non salesy voice that resonates
  • provide valuable branded content about your products and services
  • create a digitized version and lead people there from the paper version; in the digitized version add elements such as video, gif and hot links
  • include a call-to-action that goes to a specific landing page
  • always include contact information with social media addresses

Magazine Ads

volkswagons test drive app
Volkswagon allows you to test drive on a print ad.

In our fast-paced online world, magazines can offer solace  and, a niche magazine that goes to your target audience can be a fantastic marketing choice for small business owners. But, ads can be hard to track, making it tricky for companies trying to prove the ROI.

Here are a few tips for maximizing your magazine spend:

  • Ask the publisher for a bundle deal: print + newsletter + social + website ad.
  • Offer valuable content such as a non-salesy blog post to the editor for consideration (and include your byline.) The trick here is to really understand the audience of the pub, and not make assumptions about coverage just because you’re an advertiser.
  • Create a specific landing page and include it with the call-to-action of your ad. Rather than blasting the same CTA in all your marketing, try to keep it specific to the readers of one magazine at a time.
  • Include a QR Code that goes to the above-mentioned landing page.

Volkswagen recently integrated a magazine ad with a test drive app that allows you to ‘test drive’ the car within a print ad. Once you download the app and hold your smartphone over the print advertisement you can make the car ‘drive’. And you could test out three different features of the vehicle: lane assist, adaptive lights and cruise control. This a fun way to integrate print with digital marketing.

Tip: We don’t all have big brand budgets like Volkswagen. Consider adding a compelling offer to your ad and drive folks to a quick video of  you talking directly to them. “Hey [Name of Magazine] Reader, thanks for clicking the link! My company specializes in A, B & C and we look forward to serving you. Go here to receive your special offer.”

Direct Mailers

direct mail with video
ExactTarget embedded this video into their direct mailer piece. Click the image to see the video of how they did it.

Technology for direct mailers has certainly changed along with digital marketing options. Not only can you link to a video, you can also now embed a video directly onto the mailers.

According to Campaigns & Elections Magazine, “The next frontier is embedding computer chips in direct mail pieces. No need to enter a web address or take a picture with your cell phone to access content. Just wave your mobile phone over the mail piece the way you wave your credit card over a high-tech key pad. The computer chip will then match tested messaging to the user’s profile and online history, generating a personalized message for the user.”

Pretty cool, huh? Could be costly, but considering direct mail has a fairly decent ROI, it could be worth it to explore ideas for unlocking the potential.


So, newsletters may have moved online, but there can still be a space for them in the physical mailbox of your customer (think zip codes with a high concentration of your targeted demographic). Just like with your brochure you can incorporate digital elements to an online version, you could also consider adding QR Codes (to specific landing pages, of course) and other time-sensitive elements that will add value.

Printed newsletters can get costly, I would recommend only sending them 3-4 times per year. However, you can use them to incentivize recipients to sign up for your more-frequent digital version, and drive them to your social media channels.

There’s no rule anywhere that says once you go inbound, you can never incorporate traditional marketing tactics or even forego print. In fact, cross-promoting professional blog posts and marketing ideas in print and other mediums can capture a much broader audience. So, you see, print and digital marketing CAN go together… as long as your smart about it!

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