The future of print is measurable and personal

Adrian O'Connor - CEO, Print & Residential Distribution - Ovato

Digital transformation is one of those phrases that you probably hear far too often. That’s because it’s been high on the agenda for most businesses over the last decade, with 85 per cent of enterprise decision-makers believing it crucial to stay competitive and profitable. But while there’s typically been a focus on embracing new digital tools, methods and platforms, that’s not all there is to it.

Digital transformation is really about applying the value of digital to everything in your business – from internal processes to in-store experiences and even print marketing. In fact, arguably the biggest digital transformation is currently happening within print. As print and digital become increasingly intertwined, businesses can now use the analytics we’ve long applied to online channels to improve the effectiveness of print marketing and distribution.

Measuring print impact

Measuring the impact of print with real in-store or transactional data has historically been challenging. Catalogues are distributed, print ads are placed, flyers go out. But are they actually contributing to purchase decisions? It’s been hard to know for sure – until now.

With the right data and analytics tools, brands have more power than ever to apply A/B testing principles and personalisation to print marketing. This can be as sophisticated as curating an entirely personalised version of the catalogue for VIP customers, or as simple as testing two different hero products on the front cover. Once you’ve got this test in place, you can track the impact of those two versions on store sales and know which product sold better at local stores following delivery.

Catalogues have always been a powerful sales driver. Now, we can quantify sales lift due to distribution and measure against audience segments, locations and creative.

Maximising profitability

Ultimately, this new level of measurement offers the ability to maximise your most profitable audiences, delivery areas and mediums to get your message across.

By applying pre-defined and custom audience segments, based on how customers are transacting with Australia’s biggest stores, you can identify the most valuable groups. You can also identify the least valuable segments, allowing you to test and trial new things with those audiences – without risking your bottom line. Or maybe you want to identify the catalogue locations that directly led to an uplift in sales, so you can weight your distribution efforts to those areas.

Armed with this kind of data, you can make smarter business decisions that eliminate wastage and allow you to connect only with the audiences that want to hear from you, applying learnings to drive even more sales.

Moving beyond demographic targeting

While demographic segments like age group and gender are a staple for marketers, they’re mostly too general to provide useful insights. There’s such a diverse range of behaviours and interests among those groups, that reliance on demographic targeting puts you at risk of over-generalising or failing to engage large swathes of people that don’t fit the stereotype. To get deeper insights, many businesses rely on surveys – but again, these are limited by self-reported data and biases.

Imagine you run a gym, and you do a survey of potential new customers in your area. One, a man in his 30s, tells you that he’s really into health and fitness, so you assume he’s an active gym member already and communicate accordingly. In comparison, with real transactional and behavioural data, you might find out that he hasn’t been to the gym in months – but his media habits suggest he does have the aspiration and an interest in fitness. With this information, you can target lapsed or irregular gym members at the right time, with local deals that encourage them to join an ongoing training program. Geospatial and location data will also tell you where people are engaging with your ads, and what they’re likely to spend with you – rather than relying on overall socio-economic status based on postcode>

The true innovation lies in predictive data. Combining all this information, along with AI tools, we can now identify the next action a customer will take – and make sure your brand is with them on that journey.

Bringing print into the digital world

With these new measurement capabilities, businesses can genuinely integrate all marketing channels in a way that’s never been truly possible before. This is what real digital transformation looks like – wrapping data around all elements of the organisation. It’s about understanding the interaction between placement and performance, whether you’re tracking the impact of your physical catalogue on online purchases (and vice versa) or using location data for future store planning. The new era of print has arrived – and it’s more measurable, targeted and personalised than ever before.

Find out about our data partnerships, and how we can measure the true impact of your print marketing and distribution.