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Top Print & Digital Marketing Trends for 2018

The line between digital marketing and traditional marketing blurs more everyday.  Whether done in the digital or physical space, marketing is still marketing. Our capabilities are advancing to the point where we don't need to be—and shouldn't be—talking in terms of digital vs. traditional marketing.

As creators for the visual world, we keep our eyes on marketing trends. It's been exciting to see how drastically marketing has changed over the last decade. Technology and media have changed parts of the game, but the fundamentals remain the same—strong visual design, quality storytelling, and an understanding of your buyer. Here we provide some insight into marketing trends for 2018 and how you can use print graphics and digital elements together to strengthen your brand.

1. Big Data & the customer journey

Technology and the "Internet of Things" makes it possible to gain a deep understanding of our audiences and their buying behaviors. The key is using that data as effectively as possible.

Big data has been in the conversation for a while, and we’ve gotten to the point where it’s now an integral part of any successful marketing campaign. It's incredibly important to first understand an audience, and then use that knowledge to connect with them. Through integrated or multichannel marketing, more companies will be delivering highly personalized and adaptable messages to their audiences via print and digital platforms, and even through household objects like Google Home and Alexa-enabled devices.

At all hours of the day, your customers are reading news, checking social media, reading email, and more on a variety of devices. Through a multichannel engagement platform, you have the opportunity to synchronize experiences in the customer journey to get your targeted message through to the people who benefit most from it.

2. Investment in Content Developers

Understanding the customer journey is a major piece of the puzzle. But then, what do you offer once you've gotten your customer's attention? The answer is content. This isn't a new concept; a focus on content has been at the top of marketing "trends" for years. Companies have worked to churn out more content, and they've focused on quantity over quality. Now that the field is saturated with content, we're seeing a shift towards more memorable and personalized content experiences. Companies are hiring in-house content development and editorial teams, as well as content partners and influencers across content channels. 

These partnerships are on full display with content creators on YouTube. Take this case study for example:  

"Toyota paired up with YouTube influencers Rhett and Link for an adrenaline-fueled test drive of the 2015 Camry that contributed to a more than 20% lift in ad recall with the help of Google Preferred. Likewise, Toyota won affinity with First Car Vs. First REAL Car, a BuzzFeed Video partnership starring the Corolla that tapped into the hilarious truths of first-time car buyers."

Finding content creators, getting the right stories, crafting creative angles—it's a big investment, but it pays off exponentially.

3. Mastering Visual Content Design

Visual media is huge right now. In visually-based digital spaces like social media, video reigns supreme. With such a focus on visual marketing, print is perfectly poised to reinforce those same experiences in the physical spaceA marketing focus in 2018 should certainly be all about visual storytelling—a combination of strong design, creative ideas, and a compelling story. 

Visual masters like It'Sugar do a great job of recreating these experience using printed in-store visuals:

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4. Experiences Along the Customer Journey

What experiences are you creating for your customers? Think beyond just video or commercials. You can transform any space with printed graphics.

Take this example of a museum-like experience from retail giant Nike:


What can brick and morter retailers do to compete with online shopping? Be different and offer experiences.

What do shoppers want? Retail experts say that today's shoppers value experience more than their predecessors. With that in mind, marketers are finding more experiences to draw in shoppers, both in the retail environment and online.

5. Smart Content

Smart content and hyper-personalization are coming to the mainstream in 2018. As mentioned in the first point about big data, businesses can now easily provide personalization in the form of direct mail and targeted messaging in print. 

One example of this is a multichannel marketing campaign we did for Elmhurst College.

Located just west of Chicago, Elmhurst has plenty of competition. To stand out and attract more prospective students to their School for Professional Studies, they wanted to focus on reaching out to local students who were planning on attending grad school close to home.

With the help of Elk Grove Graphics, a Vomela Company, Elmhurst College embarked on a multichannel marketing campaign involving highly personalized direct mail pieces, email marketing initiatives, printed programs, and more. They achieved their goal of higher quality multichannel engagement, rather than spending marketing dollars on high quantity (but lower quality) campaigns. Their success relied heavily on the leveraging data to create higher engagement via personalization.


6. Native Advertising and Authenticity

Native advertising is a phenomenon that has bloomed on the web, but opportunities exist for native ads in print as well. The idea behind native advertising is that it matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears. In other words, it blends in to the content that the consumer is seeking out.

It is more difficult than ever to offer ad-wary consumers a native advertisement. Consumers can spot a phony endorsement or a sponsored post a mile away. The challenge is to find ways for brands not just to appear authentic, but to be authentic.

People don’t want a bunch of flashy ads in their faces, and they really don't want phony celebrity endorsements. Instead, they want tasteful content that appeals, entertains, or informs without a whiff of a salespitch.

Print is an extremely versatile medium in this way. From cryptic, curiosity-inducing print campaigns to a simple, informative graphic, there are a ton of ways to get creative. This example from one of the first native ads to run in print at The New York Times illustrates how tricky it is to strike the right balance.

Whatever your marketing plan is for 2018, we're sure you'll be integrating some of these trends to bring your brand to life. Let us know how we can help you do it!

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Dec 12, 2017 |

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