Is Print Marketing Better Than Digital Marketing?

In recent years, many businesses have been making the switch to digital. Others remain firmly loyal to print, posing the enduring question: print marketing vs digital marketing – which is better?

Print marketing is tried and tested. We know what to expect; it’s authentic and trustworthy. But print marketing also faces accusations of being outdated and expensive. By contrast, digital is fast, accurate and cost-effective. But it’s also impersonal, less memorable and intangible; you don’t want your campaign to get lost in the ephemeral digital clutter of today’s online world.

In most cases, it really depends on the context. You’ll need different campaigns for different products, and different forms of media will be more effective at targeting different audiences. Here to help you make an informed decision, Chilliprinting bring you the definitive guide to print marketing vs digital marketing. Outlining the pros and cons of each strategy.

Print Marketing

Print Marketing Continues to Evolve

The myth that print marketing is dead is a pernicious one. In reality, print media has evolved with the help of new technology. Various advancements, such as the use of Augmented Reality (AR) (more on that later). Have transformed print into a powerful medium. Furthermore, advancements in printing methods, such as variable data printing, have seriously lowered printing costs. So if your business rules out print marketing without understanding the nature of modern printing, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities for growth.

Print Marketing Builds Meaningful Connections

The tactile quality of printed media taps into consumer’s ‘haptic memory’ (touch memory). Which is proven to be the most lasting form of emotional connection. The aesthetics of print marketing also give it a customized, personal feel, which lend printed media an inimitable trustworthiness. Recent studies have shown that potential customers are much more likely to trust your company when your marketing uses high-quality print. Such as luxury brochures or thick gsm flyers.

Gaining trust is a crucial part of any business. And is also helpful for organizations in the charity sector. Direct-mail postcards and newsletters can boost donations by up to fifty percent. Moreover, printed materials can be kept. If you design a beautiful flyer, your audience may well keep a hard copy. Which they can engage with over and over again. Print marketing thus affords businesses a much higher level of impact than digital marketing can achieve. Building more meaningful and long-lasting connections with consumers.

Print Marketing is Good for our Brains

Recent findings in the field of neuroscience suggest that print marketing offers special advantages in connecting with our brains. In a study sponsored by Canada Post and executed by Canadian neuromarketing firm TrueImpact. The effects of print marketing (in this case, direct mail) were compared with those of digital media (email and display advertisements).

Conventional questionnaires, combined with eye-tracking and high-resolution EEG brain wave measurement, were used to evaluate cognitive engagement. Assessing how much each medium held consumer attention and motivated engagement. The study showed that direct mail was far easier to process cognitively, and tested better when it came to brand recall. According to the report: “Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable.”

Print Marketing is More Effective On the Ground

Using printed media, such as posters or leaflets, can help you reach your target audience much more easily. For a small business with a local reach, print marketing is super effective, as it creates local brand recognition and guides customers directly to your premises. Print marketing is an important part of any effective on ground or guerilla marketing campaign. If you want to reach people on the streets, or target specific demographics (perhaps people who go to a certain type of restaurant or shop), then you can’t beat print.

Digital Marketing

Wider Reach

Using digital marketing you can not only target a local audience, but an international one too. Furthermore, you can specially tailor your marketing campaign to a specific demographic, allowing you to be more precise with who you target, according to gender, location, age and taste. This means your campaign will be more accurate and more effective.

Diversification Means Audience Choice

Print marketing can be quite singular, whereas digital marketing offers a diverse range of opportunities for consumer engagement. What’s great about digital media is your audience can choose for themselves how they wish to receive and explore your content. Some people like to get their information from blog posts, while others prefer to watch a YouTube video. Print marketing doesn’t offer the audience this choice, meaning consumers can be more reluctant to engage.

For example, many people don’t like having their mailbox spammed by promotional leaflets. Especially if the company has adopted a scattergun approach, in which case it’s likely the leaflets will be of little interest to the individual. By contrast, online consumers get the choice to opt in or out of communication, meaning they are taking active initiative in seeking out your brand or product. This leads to a richer level of interaction.

Highly Cost-Effective

Digital marketing is undoubtedly cost-efficient. The cost of online paid ads (on sites like Facebook and Twitter) is rapidly rising due to digital marketing becoming more competitive. However, even with rising prices, the cost is still far cheaper than print marketing. With digital media you can reach millions of people with one advert, whilst algorithms ensure that your campaign reaches the target demographic.

Effective Tracking of ROI

By using digital marketing, you can easily record data and results. With Google Analytics, and the many insight tools offered by mainstream social media channels, you can check on your campaigns at any time, gaining access to comprehensive streams of market data. You can view the rate and number of visitors to your site, track the level of subscription increase and analyze peak trading times – all at the click of a button. Unlike print marketing methods, you can see assess exactly what is and isn’t working in real time, allowing you to fine-tune and adapt your campaign as you go along. By harnessing all this digital information, you can very carefully measure the return on your investment (ROI), thereby assessing how effective your marketing campaign has been.

Digital Media Can Go Viral

Imagine if your flyers could get circulated instantly by millions of consumers. This is the case online, where digital consumers can be reached using social media, allowing your brand or your message to be shared incredibly fast. Ensuring that your website has links to social media share buttons, you can increase your online engagement hugely. High-quality online content will usually get shared, and social media can create a chain reaction.

Print marketing vs Digital marketing: So which is better?

The key weakness of print marketing is that, compared to digital, there is very little interaction between the medium and the consumer’s access to the product. It is a great way of providing information to the consumer public that your brand or product exists, but it’s then up to them to go out of their way to find that product and engage with it. Moreover, print marketing can be very costly when compared with digital media, and it has less reach. If you want to reach an international audience, or even a large local one, print media is not very effective.

Printing materials can be expensive and you need to hire people to distribute your printed pieces. However, if you opt for digital marketing, you lose a lasting connection with your target audience. When it comes to factors like trustworthiness and memorability, digital just cannot compete with print. A well-designed poster or flyer will create lasting connections and build brand loyalty.

With this in mind, the most effective marketing campaigns combine both print and digital media. In fact, the idea that the two are in competition isn’t the case at all, and leads many businesses to make mistakes. While it’s undoubtedly tempting to see them as enemies, a truly savvy company will see them as allies.

How To Effectively Combine Print With Digital

Instead of focusing on the differences of print marketing vs digital marketing, why not combine both? Here are a couple strategies you can use to leverage the benefits of both worlds.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Want to track ROI on your printed media? Use Augmented Reality (AR). Most people are probably more familiar with QR codes, but let’s be honest: they are ugly, nothing new and nobody is using them. In contrast, AR-Apps like GizThis offer the same feature but thanks to image recognition, they enable you to use unique designs and stunning photos instead of boring QR codes. This allows your audience to unlock a whole world of digital engagement in the palm of their hand.

You can enable a AR-tag to do any number of things when scanned: open a website, link to your business page, show a video, play a game, make a phone call, or even send an e-mail. You can then track the digital responses via a URL referrer, allowing you to measure ROI. This is the perfect synthesis of both strategies, as it allows you to harness the tactile, personal qualities of print marketing, whilst benefiting from the precision, and data generating capacities of digital.

Use Print to Boost Online Sales

Print marketing can actually boost online sales regardless of location. If you coordinate both campaigns carefully, your print marketing can work seamlessly alongside digital initiatives, allowing you to create cost-effective and highly powerful campaigns. Make sure your printed media always ties in with your online presence. Flyers and posters should include links to social media, websites and hashtag slogans. Consider your print marketing to be the physical arm of your digital campaign. When working side by side, they are unstoppable.


Forget the print marketing vs digital marketing fight, they work best in a symbiotic relationship. The recent Print in a Digital World 2017 Trend Report explains that “we are in an information revolution, powered by the intersection of two of the most commanding knowledge transfer mechanisms of our time”.

The report emphasizes the potential to “benefit from the mixing and mingling of print and digital.” Effective marketing campaigns will take this into consideration and try to complement print marketing with digital marketing. Allow them to work together. Unlock their potential. If you coordinate both carefully, you will have a marketing strategy that is greater than the sum of its parts.

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