Amid concerns of an economic recession, brands and businesses are seeing a strategic opportunity to gain market share through increased marketing spend, according to almost three-quarters (73 percent) of marketers surveyed for a new report from marketing solutions firm R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD). And despite widespread talk about budget cuts, more than half (54 percent) expect their organization’s overall marketing budget to increase this year.
The firm’s newly released Optichannel Opportunity Report, which surveyed 300 in-house marketing decision makers, shows that many marketers are primed to invest the extra budget in print channels, as social media turmoil complicates the digital landscape.
In addition, more than two-thirds of respondents agree that recent large-scale changes to social platforms—i.e., the new direction and resulting turmoil at Twitter since Elon Musk took over—have influenced their digital marketing strategy. Of this group, 71 percent have reallocated budget from digital to direct mail, brochures, signage and other print channels.
“In a time of economic volatility, marketers are embracing programs that reach customers via optimal channels to improve response rates. We’re also seeing a renewed focus on print marketing, like direct mail, as social media turmoil continues to unfold,” said John Pecaric, head of operations at RRD, in a news release. “However, our findings show more than a third of marketers still struggle to track response and ROI with print channels. While more than half of marketers expect to see budgets increase in 2023, amid ongoing uncertainty, it’s critical that all strategies are backed by data, effective tracking, and reporting to ensure measurable results.”
The firm’s comprehensive study of marketers offers insight into the increasingly complex landscape. Highlights from the study include:
Print is growing—but tracking response rates remains a sticking point
The report underscores a renewed embrace of print marketing, with 62 percent indicating their marketing department’s use of print materials has increased or stayed the same over the past two years (48 percent increased). The top benefits of print marketing compared to digital are providing a physical copy of information (41 percent), serving as an offline channel for buyers to consider products for purchase (39 percent) and providing a tactile, interactive and memorable experience (34 percent).
Despite the findings showing growth of print marketing, more than a third of respondents struggle to effectively track response rates (38 percent). In fact, 63 percent indicated digital channels provide a higher return on investment (ROI). Combining print and digital marketing channels may prove the best approach, with 58 percent of marketing decision makers saying a benefit of this strategy is keeping customers engaged across platforms, which can ultimately drive conversion.
Marketers prefer optichannel for the best engagement
Optichannel marketing—which delivers personalized messages on two or more channels where specific customers are most likely to engage, often through real-time data—is the path forward for many marketers, with two out of three respondents employing this approach. When it comes to optichannel plans, budget is the biggest barrier (42 percent), followed by a lack of experience or expertise (37 percent).
Access to data no longer seems to be an issue with the overwhelming majority (85 percent) agreeing their team has access to enough information to inform effective decision making.
Trending technologies power print marketing into robust engagement tools
Marketers are exploring technologies that not only support campaign attribution but also foster a seamless customer experience across print and digital. Nearly nine out of 10 decision makers (89 percent) said their marketing department includes QR codes on print materials. Other innovative strategies marketers are employing to augment the versatility of print include automated, triggered messages (66 percent) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) (44 percent).
RRD commissioned an online survey of 300 marketing professionals that have insight into the decision-making process to better understand how marketers are approaching print and digital strategies in 2023. Survey participants are located in the U.S. and work in-house across a variety of industry sectors. The survey was conducted online by FINN Partners in November 2022 and is weighted to be nationally representative.