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Print Marketing Trends for 2023

There has been a heavy gravitation toward digital marketing over the past two decades. Many businesses and individuals have relied exclusively on digital marketing to promote. The result has been a flooded market that has become ultra-competitive for face time and left many small businesses unable to compete with large corporations that have multi-million-dollar marketing budgets.

In 2022, the “duopoly” of Google and Meta raked in over $280 billion in ad revenue. The total global digital ad spend reached over $560 billion.

But with inflation continuing to creep up and a recession on the horizon (if not already here), digital ad spend is going to drastically slow in 2023 and businesses are going to focus marketing budgets on initiatives that are proven or more likely to yield higher ROI. This includes print, which has traditionally done very well in marketing, and presents a nostalgic element that many in the younger generations are grasping for.

Here are the print marketing trends we can expect to see in 2023:

More Direct Mail

As email became a popular “free” tool to send marketing materials, traditional marketing mail fell to the wayside and mailboxes have been left mostly barren. But the exodus of direct mail marketers has left a void in an arena that has reported 5-9% response rate, compared to less than 2% for email.

Much of this can be attributed to the advancements in technology and data used for direct mail campaigns. Marketers can hyper-target individuals and businesses based on many of the same demographic characteristics used in online advertising. And rather than competing with hundreds of advertisements vying for attention on a small screen, direct mail pieces are sometimes the only media the recipient has in front of them.

Expect to see marketers return to mail origins with more direct mail campaigns filling mailboxes in 2023.

Personalized Elements

Commercial printing has come a long way from the days of printing presses that use plates and can only print a single graphic repeatedly. These days, digital printers and more advanced technology allow us to incorporate personalized elements in individual pieces using variable data printing (VDP). So, marketers can target individual people and businesses with unique elements that are specific to them – names, messages, images, or logos, for example.

Research indicates that over 75% of consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that sends them personalized communications and a slightly higher percentage indicate they are more likely to do repeat business.

As marketers have become savvier in the capabilities of print personalization and how to use it, expect to see more targeted marketing materials with personal elements included. Information available in the public domain, purchasing habits, and more are all fair game.

Material Exploration

We are fully immersed in an age of DIY, enhanced by the number of tutorials people can find online or on TV. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. The trend has made people more willing to try new things and tap into their creativity. As a result, the limits of what can (or should) be done are constantly tested.

Luckily, there are nearly countless varieties of materials that can be used for printed marketing materials. In terms of substrates, paper is the obvious substrate that people immediately think of. But even with paper, there are hundreds of styles, weights, finishes, etc. that can be used. Beyond paper, the capabilities of printing with other substrates, such as aluminum, acrylic, glass, PVC, foam, and more have increased exponentially over the years to the point where you might not even be able to tell what material is being used.

In an increasingly competitive market, expect to see more varieties of materials used in printed marketing materials in an effort to grab attention and make a lasting impression. Also expect to see more materials with sustainable elements and brands to highlight their use of the materials.

Experiential Packaging

Packaging that is an experience in of itself is not new, evident in the mass quantity of “unboxing” videos that can be found online. But much of the experiential packaging to-date has been reserved for special gifts to small numbers of recipients or the iconic tech brands, like Apple or Microsoft.

Look for more creative and personalized packaging to be implemented by brands in 2023 as marketing teams look to generate more organic and user-generated content from customers. Also expect to see more sustainable materials used in packaging, as an increasing number of consumers report willingness to pay more for sustainable products.

Streamlined Digital Alignment

Multimedia marketing has been proven to be more effective than single media marketing strategies by increasing touchpoints with repetitive messaging. Many marketers understand this. However, many marketers also struggle to effectively execute campaigns that translate well between digital and printed materials.

Traditionally, digital alignment in printed marketing materials has consisted of including a website and social media icons in the piece. In the last few years, QR codes have become much more prominent as businesses embraced the tool during the COVID pandemic and marketers gained a better understanding of how QR codes work. However, there are even more options that have been introduced in recent years and are still in the early adoption phases of their development.

  • NFC tags are like QR codes in that they are digital symbols that connect users to a URL via a smartphone. However, instead of the user opening the camera on their phone to scan the code, they simply tap their phone to the NFC tag, and it takes them to the link. NFC tags can also be smaller than QR codes, so have less of an effect on the design of pieces. Most new smartphones include NFC tag capabilities.

  • SnapTags work the same way as QR codes – the user scans it with their smartphone camera. However, unlike QR codes, SnapTags can be applied to logos and images by adding a black and white ring around the image, which the phone camera scans.

  • Image recognition scan technology doesn’t even need an image that is obviously a code. For businesses that have an app, developers can build image recognition into apps that allows users to use the function to point at images and get information, make a purchase, or activate another experience.

  • Bluetooth beacons (BLE) are technology that don’t need a scan at all. The small beacons can be placed on materials and transmit signals to nearby smartphones to send push notifications. These are great for location-specific marketing methods, such as physical store locations, to send marketing promotions as customers are making buying decisions.

Expect to see more strategies that align printed marketing materials with brands’ digital presence and make it easier for customers to access desired digital pages, apps, and tools via more seamless methods.

Written by Omega High-Impact Print Solutions Marketing Director, Jake Coburn


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