My Digital Cup Runneth Over

The Web Chef's Cafe will focus on giving you insights, tips and links to free and fee resources on some of the latest developments in online marketing. Our Web Chef encourages you to send topic ideas and to comment on the postings as the bi-weekly series continues to evolve. Read Full Bio

As the Web Chef, I continue to love digital media in all its many forms and levels of interaction, but lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of information that this multi-faceted channel generates. Whether from search or "traditional" e-mail or social media or RSS feeds or mobile or any of the myriad of ways to communicate, connect, create or buy online; my digital cup runneth over.

My e-mail box runneth over with personal messages, newsletter subscriptions, account and subscriber notifications and spam — each demanding some level of attention while inundating my e-mail box on a daily basis. My social media interactions runneth over with tweets, "likes," messages and postings on the myriad of social media channels I engage with including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blogs, YouTube, RSS feeds, etc. My Web search results runneth over with thousands of organic and tens of paid search results generated from keywords phrases that might not have been the best to generate my expected results in the first place. My RSS feeds runneth over with the hundreds of feeds I try to monitor to stay abreast of the latest technology trends, specific industry trends, news and political happenings. My Web browsing runneth over with content galore from whitepapers to webinars to stories to banner ads to general information.

This abundance got me thinking about the one channel that many marketers have neglected in their rush to the digital cupboard: print. Yes, I may be the Web Chef, but let me switch my toque to the paper hat of the Print Chef, and suggest that you do not to abandon print. Aided by technological developments, many print opportunities have been created for the astute multi-channel marketer.

The savvy marketer recognizes the need for a full-court press to attract prospects, convert them into customers and to continuously engage them over throughout a lifetime relationship with your business. With effective database-driven direct marketing techniques, consumer connections can be generated through personalized and targeted direct mail, using variable data printing (VDP), personalized URLs (PURL) and two-dimensional digital mobile bar codes (see "Que the QR Code — the Cat is Back"). Here's an example of VDP from the recent Interact Conference personalized to me with the PURL http://paulgibler/myinteract.net (no longer active):

Print fits nicely into your mix because the overall decline in print messages has opened up "slots" in the consumer's limited attention span, along with the engagement possible through hands-on interaction with your direct mail piece. Even more importantly, print fits nicely with your strategic initiatives. By linking your databases with your creative platforms, you can use variable data printing to personalize messages, offers and creative in order to generate and support your customer engagements. Direct Marketing Association research shows that personalization leads to higher response rates, so the value of this type of technological infrastructure in your direct marketing approach can't be underestimated. For a price, you can bring your print offer closer to a one-to-one marketing ideal.

Surprisingly, print has been found to be especially effective in reaching certain demographic segments like young adults ages18 to 35. ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting, conducted research earlier this year that found that print was preferred by this desirable segment in almost all product categories with the exception of travel. This preference is found to be generated, in part, by the trends I referenced above — increased volume of digital communication and diminished volumes of print mail — but also, interestingly enough, by a growing belief that print is more private than digital communications.

It behooves you to assess what media you are using to reach your targets and customers, what media they are already receiving and where their "cups" still have space for relevant messaging and connections. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that the right print solution can fit nicely into this slot.

To find out more about trends, techniques and resources for your overall marketing strategies and tactics, follow me on Twitter @thewebchef.

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