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“Print vs. Digital” Is Dead: The Flyer’s New Place in Retailers’ Integrated Marketing Mix

Author: Sean Keith, Director of New Business Development at Eagle Eye

The resilience of the flyer as a marketing tool has won out in the “print versus digital” debate among retail marketers. Today, the real debate is focused on how retailers can maximise the effectiveness of flyers as part of an integrated marketing toolset?
 
At the recent Retail Flyer Forum in Toronto, many retailers agreed that digital won’t (at least in the near term) replace print flyers outright. Even with the growth of digital marketing channels, print flyers endure because they are cost-effective, easy to produce and remain popular among specific consumer segments.
 
Although the printed flyer remains useful, it still poses the same attribution challenge today as it did a century ago. As department store magnate John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”.
 
When using printed flyers for promotions, it’s difficult to connect any engagement with it directly to a sale. For example, the process of issuing a flyer about a restaurant’s grand opening and tracing it back it to an actual visit by a customer is not as linear or traceable as is possible using digital marketing tools.
 
As part of the Eagle Eye team that attended the Retail Flyer Forum, the question on our minds was, how can retailers incorporate print flyers into their wider marketing toolset, which is increasingly becoming digital?
 
Here are our main takeaways on the topic:
 

Understand Online vs. Offline Behavior

Retailers at the conference agreed they should better understand consumer preferences around the channels they use to engage and, in the promotional formats and delivery methods best suited to each consumer. Most consumers tend either to browse online and complete their purchase instore or buy online and collect their purchase instore. Retailers can use data they have collected through digital engagements online and instore to gain insights into their customer’s preferences, so they a) don’t annoy customers by sending unwanted flyers or coupons if they don’t want them, and b) prevent wasted marketing spend.
 
When retailers do target customers, who prefer to receive flyers for promotions, it’s important to ensure that, just like a digital offer, the physical offer is trackable through unique coupon redemption codes. Following the customer when and where they choose to engage with a retailer (be that online or offline) is key to positively influencing consumers’ buying behaviors.
 

Consider Personalisation vs. Privacy

Retailers recognise that they need to both capture and use customer data more effectively, in order to understand who their status quo is, and best understand how customer data is changing in Canada. The proposed regulatory changes limit the ways in which retailers can acquire and utilise customer data, creating a trade-off between retailers and consumers. If data is exchanged, promotions will be more targeted, personalised and of value. But the price of ‘relevance’ for consumers is that they expect to get more for the data they choose to give out and share.
 
Consent is at the heart of the tension between privacy and personalisation. If retailers give customers a compelling reason to share their data, customers are more willing to give consent and opt into marketing messages and offers. Most consumers appreciate that it takes sharing some personal details about themselves, and specifically transactional and behavioral data across channels, to enable the personalisation they expect and enjoy. Retailers should also understand this ‘give to get’ mentality. A recent study we published called The Digital Imperative found however that 32% of consumers opted out of email marketing and promotions in the six months prior to taking the survey. It makes sense that if consumers are continuously sent promotions that have nothing to do with previous purchases or expressed interests, they will opt out of data sharing with the offending retail brand altogether.
 

Enable Better, Multi-Channel Attribution

Despite advances in digital marketing and customer data collection, many retailers don’t have the capabilities or technology to attribute the redemption of a digital, let alone paper-based flyer promotion instore. This can lead to making poor marketing investments or using metrics that aren’t accurate.
 
One example of a retailer that is able to effectively track and attribute its promotions is Loblaw, with its PC Optimum Program. The retailer uses a robust, integrated platform that allows it to attribute offer digital redemptions to individual customers. The program connects all of Loblaw’s marketing channels and systems across its digital presence and almost 4,500 physical locations in one place; it can track offer redemptions regardless of the channel customers use. At the same time, Loblaw ’customers benefit from more choice, convenience and greater value from the personalised offers they receive.
 
The flyer and digital marketing are not mutually exclusive. Resourceful marketers combine both to maximise their promotions and reach. They use paper flyers to drive more traffic to their websites, social media platforms and stores, where consumers can also access digital promotions. Meanwhile, information from digital interactions can be used for more targeted direct-mail campaigns. The future of the flyer will continue to evolve just as digital marketing continues to expand with the help of newer and better technologies.
 
If your organisation is ready to implement a more effective digital approach to offers, promotions and overall marketing strategy, contact Eagle Eye to find out more. We can help you find a place for flyers in your integrated digital media strategy.