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How Printed Catalogs Can Amplify Digital Marketing

It’s no secret that your friends at Domtar are fans of the printed catalog. (Be sure to check out past blogs here and here.) Imagine my surprise and delight to receive not one, but two holiday-themed printed catalogs this month – the “Holiday Kids Gift Book” from Amazon and Target’s “2021 Holiday Toy Catalog”.

Once I mentioned the arrival of these printed catalogs, my five-year-old quickly commandeered both. Her excitement to flip through the pages of the carefully curated content (with pen in hand) perfectly illustrates the power of paper: no matter how old you are or what stage you are in life, the printed word is something to get excited about.

The times they are a-changing, and the last two years have shown us that print and digital can co-exist beautifully. Here are some ways that the printed catalog can assist (and even amplify) digital marketing efforts.

QR Codes

I will let you in on a little secret: QR codes are officially having a moment. Over the last two years, consumers have become more comfortable with using QR codes. Most cell phones have the technology needed to view the codes already built into the camera, and a lot of us have used QR codes at some point to view anything from a restaurant menu to instructions at your doctor’s office.

Amazon has done a beautiful job of incorporating QR codes throughout this year’s printed catalog. These codes are used to both increase customer engagement as well as make the shopping experience easier. Each page in the printed catalog features a QR code that allows you to shop for the items listed. Additionally, QR codes are utilized to offer shoppers a little more – whether that be a chance to win a Disney Cruise or to experience Fox’s Jolly Adventure. (Be sure to check out Fox’s adventures for a great mental escape. My favorite is the yodeling otter.)

Most people keep their cell phones close by at all times. By including QR codes on your printed materials, you increase the likelihood of customers continuously engaging with you…since they are literally one click away.  QR codes can be used to:

  • Direct customers to a landing page or website
  • Dial your business number
  • Send you a message
  • Send you an email
  • Download apps
  • View our location
  • Shopping & eCommerce
  • Direct customers to social media pages

QR codes not only provide a convenient way for customers to access information or interact with you, but they can also help you monitor the performance of your marketing initiatives. They will help you optimize any campaign by providing you with information like the total number of scans, location by country and city and time scanned. By comparing this information with your printed marketing materials, you can get a good idea of when and where your efforts were most successful.

Special Offers

According to an article from eMarketer, consumers are using both physical and digital coupons more than ever. Surprisingly, coupons are most popular with millennial parents, followed by Gen X.  (Millennials are the most deal-sensitive generation today – who knew?!)  Target understands their customers appreciate a good deal. So to entice customers to shop (in-store and online) as well as to drive engagement to their Circle app, they have a special offer in the printed catalog.

On the front of the printed catalog, there is a call-out advertising 25% off one toy or kids’ book. Once you open the catalog to learn more about the offer, you see that this coupon can only be acquired if you are a member of the Target Circle app, which is their loyalty program. They go one step further by featuring both a QR code and a link to the deal.  Discounts or special offers are a great way to attract new customers as well as retain those who are loyal.

Physical Touch

Target and Amazon continue to deliver these printed catalogs via the mail system, rather than relying solely on email, websites or apps. Some may view this approach as being old school, but that is not true at all. Digital fatigue is real. In fact, 75% of consumers report being overwhelmed by the number of digital ads they see daily. Shopping online is here to stay, but printed catalogs provide a great way for consumers to take a break from the digital overload they experience daily.

Printed collateral and printed catalogs also help with return on investment and response rates. According to a 2020 survey, direct mail (like a mailed paper catalog) had a 12% increase in good or very good response rates to multichannel campaigns. Generations born in the digital age value touching and holding paper, and are more likely to take actions like making a purchase, visiting a website or following a brand on social media as a result of receiving printed marketing materials.

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