Face Off : Print vs Online Media

The difficulties the traditional publishing industry is facing provides a great example of the on-going challenges that they face in the digital era. While publishing continues to worry about being undercut by cheaper offshore printing or ad-space price wars, digital media has been growing into the behemoth it is today. Print media is still trying to find a solution to their revenue problems caused by migration to digital media, and unfortunately most of the ideas are still coming from a framework based in their traditional understanding of the world. In essence, the ship has left the dock and they’re not on it.

An article on GigaOM — a well-respected online publication — titled “Too Many Magazine Apps Are Still Walled Gardens” highlights this point quite clearly:

…one thing is becoming clear: publishers mostly just want you to look at their content, and are hoping that you will forget all about the Internet and social media and all of those irritating things that get in between you and the consumption of their wonderful content.

To exacerbate the issue for the traditional media, digital media allows just about anyone to publish contents. Self-publishing itself is not a new phenomenon. Vanity presses have been around as long as the printing press itself and digital printing has only broadened the playing field. Online publisher such as Apple provide low-cost platforms for people to get their stories published. Anyone can get published. It’s finding an audience that’s hard. It has taken a bit longer for traditional publishers to get on board. And when they’ve ventured into self-published waters, the results have been mixed.

Many marketers are pushing their customers toward electronic statements, e-newsletters, bills, and transactional statements as a “green” move, but in reality, it has more to do with economics. It’s cheaper for businesses to send electronic communications than print. But while pushing e-communications as greener, has anyone bothered to ask what customers how they feel about it?

InfoPrint conducted a a survey that found three out of four respondents would consider opting for traditional mail delivery if they were informed it had less of a negative environmental impact than email.

In addition, 50% of consumers indicated that they still prefer to receive marketing information about new products or services via traditional mail rather than email. Only 44% would rather receive marketing via email.

Do preferences convert into action? Yes! Not only do customers prefer print mail, but they are more likely to open it, even if both communications come from a bank.

  • The survey found that, while 71% of respondents “always” open email containing a monthly bill, this jumped to 92% of consumers who received statements by mail.
  • Likewise, while 60% “always” open an email containing a bank statement, this jumps to 83% when the bank statement comes in the mail.

So if you’re looking to save money, by all means stick with the “moves it all to e-media” strategy. But if you’re looking to be more effective, don’t drop your print.

In fact, the more you learn about the green nature of the printing industry and the more you can promote green print to your customers, the more you’ll get the double bang for your dollars. They want print and they want to be green. So promote that print is green and you’ll be giving customers what they want and making them feel good about it, too.

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