What Should Your Mix of Print and Digital Advertising Be?

November 20, 2014 Rieva Lesonsky

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With digital marketing evolving so rapidly, how should a small business owner divvy up the marketing budget to get the most ROI? While just a few years ago, the majority of your marketing and advertising budget may have gone to print ads, today the balance has shifted.

A recent study by Nielsen research found that consumers are engaging with marketers via more touch points than ever. The study identified 11 touch points—eight of them digital and just three of them print. Today, the average U.S. consumer uses between four and seven touch points when making a purchase decision. Millennials, however, typically use eight to 11 touch points and, not surprisingly, most of these tend to be digital.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon print marketing as part of your mix. In fact, Nielsen reports that more than half of U.S. consumers use print media at least weekly to get information about products and prices. No wonder 68 percent of companies in the survey say print is critical to their marketing strategy.

Instead, you need to carefully consider your customers, your marketing message and your budget when determining what percentage to allocate to print and what to allocate to digital. According to Nielsen, customers turn to print to get sales and product info, but digital media is more influential in where they choose to shop. Specifically, apps or websites that save them money, social media sites and SMS messages from brands are very effective in influencing where consumers buy.

  • If your target market is mostly Millennials, you should probably put most of your marketing budget toward digital advertising and marketing. Millennials’ engagement with print ads declined 23 percent over the past three years, while their engagement with marketing texts and apps rose 26 percent in the same time period. Some 86 percent of brands will be spending on text message marketing in the next five years.
  • If your target market is budget-conscious, promoting your business via money-saving apps or websites, advertising on thrift-related sites or developing SEO strategies around saving money could prove profitable.
  • Emails are the digital marketing method that consumers engage with most. No wonder 86 percent of brands in the survey will be spending on email marketing in the next five years. Emails tend to be cross-generational, with consumers of all ages using them to receive marketing offers, news and deals from brands, so they are a good general strategy.

For best results from your marketing budget, develop a mix that incorporates both digital and print advertising. Then carefully track the results of your campaigns. If you find that certain consumers respond to emails or texts but not to mailers, for example, you can eliminate mailers to that demographic and put the money you were spending into additional digital outreach.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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