Print’s Place in a Digital World: Your Questions, Answered

Wednesday, Jul 27th 2022
Printing press machine printing broadsheet newspapers in a printing plant.

Quadient partnered with Aspire CCS to host a webinar: Print’s Place in a Digital World. It is the third webinar in The Future of Mail and Communications series, and highlighted research from our partner, Will Morgan.

The webinar covered key topics, including:

  • How has COVID-19 affected the way businesses communicate with their customers?
  • What do consumers want out of customer communications?
  • What are the best practices for using print mail in the channel mix?

Below is a compilation of the questions and responses from Print’s Place in a Digital World webinar.

Watch the webinar replay: Print’s Place in a Digital World

With digital communications obviously rising now, could you expect this spike to drop back down and seeing more businesses lean back toward print?
Consumers will probably adopt digital communications at a slower rate. In fact, the survey found that consumers expect two thirds of their provider communications to be digitally delivered by 2022. Direct mail is expected to grow because it has consistently proven effective when it successfully works hand in hand with mobile messaging.

Based on your research, what would you suggest on how to decipher or decide how much print versus digital marketing strategies for the future, meaning should companies focus on 70 digital 30 print? Is that a good way to look at it?
Plan for a flexible mix that matches the generational demographics of your customer base. If you serve older consumers, it makes sense to lean a bit more toward print. Print can also be effective with younger generations, as long as it is tied to an online strategy. You want to let your customers’ preferences shape your capabilities instead of letting your capabilities dictate the way you communicate with your customers.

How do we circumvent the issue that in our local markets we do not have the postal services and delivery services at the correct levels to support the physical print getting to the client?
Currently, you have little choice but to aggressively shift toward digital communications so you can bypass the post and reach your customers directly. Focus on building out the right capabilities to deliver the best experience on the digital channel(s) your customer base prefers.

Did your study look at how remote working may have had an impact in the shift towards digital communications?
About a third of consumers who now work from home took those steps toward digital adoption we outlined earlier for the FIRST time in the wake of COVID-19 compared to no more than 20%- a fifth - of respondents whose employment was affected in other ways. These same consumers were significantly more likely to have gone paperless at least to some degree since February. Digital adoption accelerated due to the pandemic and we expect these changes to be long lasting.

What do you recommend for small companies that may not have the type of investments large enterprises have to go omnichannel?
Relevance is the essence of personalization and personalization is one of the keys to improving customer experience. Make the best use of the data you have to ensure that your customer communications are relevant – in the content that is in the message itself and the channel of choice.

Do you feel that once COVID-19 is behind us, consumers’ preferences will revert to print or remain paperless?
Digital regression is not expected. Millennials and Gen Z are not satisfied with the current state of multichannel communications because they want personalization, interaction, channel choice, and a consistent experience. The industry may respond to that need by working to toward truer two-way interaction through digital means.

Businesses need to focus on print’s unique benefits where it makes the most impact. Never digitize a communication piece without first understanding the role it plays at the customer's place in the lifecycle.

You mentioned different growth rates by application such as direct mail and contracts.  What about the growth rate of transactional communications like invoices and statements?
That certainly demonstrates some movement toward digital – efforts are going to move towards onboarding and contracts because organizations are trying to shift sign-up and business processes toward on-demand models.

You stated that COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation among those enterprises surveyed in terms of their customer communications. Did you find any correlation between the size of business and the amount of progress they were able to achieve?
SMBs and Large Enterprises expect roughly the same growth in “digital only” communications from 2020 to 2022 and that those in between, such as small and mid-market enterprises, are expected about twice as much growth in “digital only” volume.

Watch the webinar replay: Print’s Place in a Digital World

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