The Revival of Print
This month saw the return of NME magazine for a special one-off print run celebrating the launch of the new Netflix series, The Umbrella Academy. Given the target audience and stereotypes surrounding millennials and their tech habits, it was an unusual move back to print. Or was it?
The campaign identified crossovers between NME readers and the target audience of the series. In doing this, a targeted marketing channel was established, harnessing the alignment with, and brand authority of, NME. However, the driving force that made the campaign so successful was the power of nostalgia within both NME returning as a print entity, and the fact that The Umbrella Academy is based on a comic – now seen as a retro novelty. The back-to-print move delivered a physical and valuable asset to its intended audience, who have been used to over-saturated digital communication.
The move from digital to print isn’t completely novel. Many brands, both B2C and B2B, are realising that re-employing print is a necessary part of a marketing and communications strategy. Facebook, for example, has just launched Grow, which is a quarterly publication aimed at business leaders; a considered move given Facebook’s entirely digital premise.
One of the key reasons that print still plays a significant role in marketing is the sheer noise across digital formats. While digital marketing can be highly successful, the number of social media posts and e-newsletters that reach one individual on a daily basis can lead to an overcrowded space.
There is a definite trend at the moment that favours experiential marketing as it offers a real touch point. In the same vein, print media, and more specifically print marketing, offers a tangibility and durability that digital content often can’t sustain. The consumption rate of digital content is vastly higher than that of print, creating a divergence in suitable content types.
How does this relate to B2B marketing and membership communications?
Print, as part of a wider strategy, is a crucial part of B2B and member marketing because of its longevity and depth. Unlike consumer marketing which often focuses on large scale brand awareness, print offers the opportunity to create highly targeted expert-led content, and contributes to brand extension.
While it is admittedly difficult to track ROI on print, there is evidence to suggest that audiences engage better with content off-screen, finding it easier to read and more likely to dedicate time towards reading a carefully created editorial form. With a magazine or journal, a reader is consciously looking to engage with the content, has little by way of distractions (unlike digital platforms), and can see the full extent of an article without having to scroll. At Redactive, we found that the average reading time of a membership magazine is 38 minutes, a level of engagement very rarely achieved by one brand or organisation in a digital space.
Publishing information in print means it is also far more likely to be kept for reference, unlike digital content which has an extremely short shelf life. Across Redactive titles, an average 67% of readers keep their copy for future use, a statistic not reflected by content bookmarked online.
This resource attitude is extremely valuable to B2B marketers and membership organisations as it can form part of a content strategy, positioning the brand as an authoritative voice. Practical guides, legal advice and ‘how tos’ are all examples of content expected by members, and are often best delivered as a physical resource. Paper is now a premium carrier, and by extension magazines are seen as a premium asset; a new value has been attributed to a tangible product.
Print communications, such as magazines, also establish brand trust. In producing print assets an organisation must have taken steps to invest time and money in their communications, and would not do so lightly. You therefore expect print content to be high-quality and reliable. Unlike digital content that can be edited and warped, it’s much harder to manipulate print communications; an attractive trait to consumers in an environment of fake news.
The Chartered College of Teaching – EdTech Special: when print generates results
In January this year, the CCT published an EdTech special issue with Redactive. The aim was to raise awareness about the complex issues surrounding technology in the classroom. The print publication was sent to every school in the country, and was supplemented by an on-going digital campaign. A subscription form was sent out with the issue as part of the College’s membership acquisition objectives.
The results of publishing this print issue exceeded all expectations in terms of both member and non-member engagement.
- Membership in January saw a 48% increase from the previous year, due to the publication of the special issue
- The CCT website saw a 106% increase in views in January compared to December
- The Impact website saw a 92% increase in views (49,292) in January after the EdTech issue was released
- The EdTech special e-newsletter achieved over a 50% open rate with EdTech links being the most popular (the highest performing email to date)
The success of this multi-channel campaign was a direct result of the value attributed to the physical publication which stood as the main asset and driving force of the messaging.
Whilst digital disruptors such as Netflix and Facebook are discovering how to harness the power of print and sparking its revival, for us at Redactive, and for our membership organisations, it never went away.