The Future of Marketing has Businesses Returning to Print

In the last 20 years, we have seen massive shifts in marketing dollars from print advertising to digital. Newspaper and magazine ads were replaced with online banners, and radio and television shifted from having limited competition to virtually unlimited competition from the internet and social media channels. However, trends have a way of coming back. Recent studies show that marketing targets are tiring of the increasing barriers that come with digital marketing and are revisiting more traditional methods of reaching consumers.

An ongoing change in dynamics demands that marketers pay attention to external factors driving digital advertising’s delivery technologies, such as spam folders, ad blockers, ad skipping, digital ad targeting and other elimination or prioritization approaches. In many cases, a high-value customer may never see an email because they have unsubscribed, deleted without opening or were filtered.

A person will be bombarded with thousands of advertisements on a typical day, and the vast majority will never be seen or acted on. Consumers are inundated with so much input that even what should be a relatively simple decision-making process can become paralyzing. Therefore, marketers are looking toward a more traditional route to capture and retail customers.

Print Marketing is Here to Stay

Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead. It has continued to offer great opportunities for targeting customers and is expected to continue seeing solid gains. A recent Sequel report showed that marketers mailed just over 8.4 billion pieces in Q1 2022, bumping direct mail volume growth up 11.3% year-over-year. Advertising in print channels continues to be the most trusted among consumers, and when making purchase decisions, consumers trust newspapers and magazines more than any other advertising channel. In fact, print ads were the top advertising channel with four out of five Americans, with 82% trusting newspapers and magazine ads.


Digital interactions provide visual, audio and interactive experiences that engage multiple senses. However, when paired with a print campaign that incorporates a physical touch, brands can make a meaningful and lasting impression. Direct mail for instance can create an interaction that meets the customer where they are. If effective, the direct engagement can be kept for a moment of peace and interaction while sipping a cup of coffee or waiting for a child’s soccer practice to end.  

How to Build a Multi-Channel Campaign

Now more than ever, marketers are battling for consumers’ attention amongst the onslaught of solicitations. Messaging needs to be coherent, relevant and provide value to earn the right to spark interest and engagement and overcome attention attrition. 

Each piece of the marketing output can provide a unique and complementary experience yet needs to be complete enough to stand on its own. There cannot be an interdependence; each piece should be able to stand on its own and not leave a void in the engagement process. A successfully integrated marketing effort is not simply redundant messaging; each component is complementary, providing engagement, fostering curiosity and an opportunity to engage further. Email marketing and other digital strategies are vital in reaching your identified customers but print and especially direct mail can target those you cannot reach digitally. Gaps in customer interactions can be determined by measuring results, and with an 80% miss rate on emails, follow-up should be direct mail.

Print marketing can resonate with the modern-day consumer because it is alive with versatility, including interactivity that can connect to apps, websites and video. QR codes are one example of interactivity with print; other techniques such as visual enhancements are one of several augmented reality (AR) avenues that work with print advertising. The US Mail also highlights opportunities for AR with examples of how to engage and drive desired activity. Every time there is an opportunity to engage a customer is a chance to create the intended response to advertising.

A printed page can be beautiful, artistic or awe-inspiring. Advertisements in print media or direct mail can compel the audience to fall in love with the jacket, car or trip of their dreams. The printed page is the media of the ages — collectible, historical, archival and frameable. Every advertiser should have a print media and direct mail strategy to target, engage and enthrall customers into action.

Ross Youngs is an environmental scientist and CEO and Co-founder of Univenture, a full-service designer, manufacturer and distributor of packaging products used in dozens of industries globally. With more than 75 issued patents to date, the Univenture team is one of the leading providers of sustainable, biodegradable and reusable plastics that are wholly manufactured in the United States.

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