Despite the fact that 23% of marketers admit their print and digital approaches are not closely aligned, 70% are using printed media to stimulate audience interest in digital content, according to research by marketing services production firm Charterhouse.
The emergence of QR Codes and other tools have created new opportunities to integrate print and digital marketing. But marketers are still using relatively simple tactics, the study found.
QR Codes and other emerging technologies do hold a lot of potential for innovative marketing and loyalty initiatives, but marketers must not think that these technologies are a quick route to instant engagement, warned Ivan Skoric, head of digital services for Charterhouse: "Any integration between print and digital must be intelligent, worthwhile for the audience, and closely aligned".
Despite the growing prevalence of QR Codes, standard web URLs are still the most used tool to direct print-reading audiences to an online resource. While almost two thirds (59%) of marketers said that at least 50% of their campaigns integrate print and digital channels, a simple web URL is most commonly employed (by 83% of marketers). More sophisticated tools such as QR Codes (26%) and Augmented Reality (5%) are used less frequently.
The most common objective, cited by 61% of marketers, is to use print to increase traffic to the brand's web site.
Interestingly, despite the rising consumer interest in smartphone-based mobile content and social media, no respondents at all said they were using print media to drive consumers toward mobile content. And only 2% said they were using print to attract audiences to social media-based content.
"Marketers are clearly thinking about how these technologies can enhance their activities. But they shouldn't be thought of as the end-result. They are actually just a means to an end," explained Skoric. "Simply sticking a QR Code or a digital watermark on print marketing to drive interest to your web site is not going to achieve real results. The objective of linking print and digital should be to engage audiences with 'sticky' online content as part of a broader experience."
The reason behind today's poor approach to integration appears to be that marketers are yet to be fully convinced of the benefits of some emerging technologies. For example, nearly one third (32%) of marketers admitted that they are not sure about the potential of QR Codes to enhance their marketing campaigns. And 51% said the same about Augmented Reality, followed by 34% about linking to mobile sites, and 32% about linking directly to social media pages from printed materials.
Despite this, almost half (46%) believe that print is vital to driving interest in digital content and campaigns. So, despite varying levels of involvement, the survey also found that marketers were increasingly prepared to experiment with integrating print and digital in future. Half (51%) of marketers said they were planning to use QR Codes in the coming 12 months, and almost two thirds (59%) planned to link to social media content rather than their own web sites. A small proportion (7%) even revealed plans to integrate print and Augmented Reality in their near-term marketing efforts.