How paper and digital integration is shaping the future of communications
By Graham Moore, Director Business Development, Production Printing Business Group, Ricoh Europe
Ricoh Europe, London, 23 September 2015 – Every year the private and public sectors invest heavily in their efforts to communicate – to varying degrees of success – with cost, speed and reach key parts of the criteria. The UK government recently announced that it has saved £330 million* within its communications department in the last year by increasing use of digital communications. Yet despite advances in digital technology, print still accounts for 40 per cent of corporate firms’ communication expenditure**.
As spending on mobile and online channels increases, organisations must become more proficient at managing a mix of communication methods. Otherwise, it is impossible for them to harness the full benefits of each medium. Different methods allow for greater personalisation of marketing materials, reduced costs of production and a more targeted reach. For businesses to remain competitive and relevant in the world of modern communication, mastery of these various channels is key.
Across all markets, it is clear that companies are investing heavily in digital communication methods. Spending on online communication is expected to increase overall by 6.3 per cent in the next two years, while investment in mobile is forecast to grow by 4.9 per cent***. The benefits of digital and online communications are vast. Firstly, the cost of contacting customers or prospects is greatly reduced. Then there’s the speed with which email and social media campaigns can be coordinated and distributed. This offers businesses a truly flexible approach to reaching their audience quickly. With this in mind, a recent white paper, sponsored by Ricoh Europe, explores mobile usage trends, what they mean for a printing business, and how interactive print can both enhance the user experience and deliver improved results for marketers^*.
Yet despite widespread awareness, some of the most beneficial and modern features of digital communication are less apparent. For example, digital profiling enables companies to store much more detail about their customers and prospects than simply their names and addresses. What’s more, calls to action and links to other relevant business materials fit naturally into digital and online content.
But let’s not forget the benefits of traditional direct mail. The question is; are consumers and businesses aligned? The reasons why consumers prefer direct mail have been well documented; trust, impact, brand value and positive disruption. Yet the benefits are also realised on a broader scale. Research conducted by the British Direct Marketing Association (DMA), sponsored by Ricoh Europe, reveals the main reasons why agencies and advertisers use direct mail as being proven effectiveness and a good ROI.
While companies across Europe continue to invest in new methods of communication, on average corporate firms in Europe are still spending €2.9 million each year on printed communications^**. Although digital has eaten into print’s dominance when it comes to communication methods, print continues to be the principal way in which companies choose to interact with their audience. It is estimated that in 2016, print will still constitute 35.7 per cent of communication spending, more than any other potential medium^***.
But why does print remain so important for businesses? Firstly, it is a familiar means of communication. It is simple and preferred for its convenience. Physical content is more permanent in nature than digital material – boosting its potential influence and reach. As companies increasingly investigate digital options, paper has the potential to function as a ‘premium’ method of communication, useful for securing heightened interest around important information. At present, digital and print communications tend to exist in separate silos within the business. They both work towards the same goals but their efforts are widely kept singular and distinct. Modern organisations must break down these silos and embrace an integrated approach to communication in order to remain competitive in the digital age.
The increasing use of digital channels will not spell the end for print. Rather competition from email, social, mobile and online will continue to reshape the use and delivery of print. The challenge is not to do away with print materials, nor to separate different channels into distinct silos, but to integrate print within a more dynamic spread of technologies.
The intelligent use of the increasing volume of consumer data that is available is key to this integration. Harnessing insights from data that can provide a single view of the consumer enables an omnichannel approach. New bridging technologies that combine print with the online realm help progressive Print Service Providers to take full advantage. With, for example, Ricoh’s Clickable Paper™offering; a unique form of interactive print that enables consumers to experience a brand, as opposed to a channel within a brand. After all, the demand for immediate one-touch access to multiple online resources such as video, websites, e-commerce sites and social networks will only accelerate further into the digital age.