Most people in the present age can instantly think of advertisements that businesses produce for their social media pages – this form of digital marketing is one of the easiest. Some experts might even say that digital marketing is the most affordable, yielding the highest ROI. Simply toss a picture with a caption online, and you’re done. However, that doesn’t address the big elephant in the room: Print Marketing.


Do you need to reproduce every single social media post in print form (even if you did, where would they be going?), and how can you incorporate print marketing into your digital marketing strategy? While the two don’t need to be the best of friends, they should be working together for your business.


History of Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is still a relatively new term, only coined in the 1990s when the internet really took off and launched us into the world wide web. At this point, the concept of digital marketing was still pretty limited – the idea that businesses were using the internet to persuade customers to purchase their product was revolutionary. People were now able to find the information they wanted, but it took years for there to be platforms to share the information over the internet in a specific manner. Sites like eBay, MSN, and the like were starting to pop up, giving a new way for people to consume information.


It wasn’t until 1993 when HotWire purchased a clickable banner (something we think of immediately when discussing digital marketing tactics now). This not only transformed the digital marketing sphere, it changed the way people viewed the internet as a whole. Soon after Yahoo was launched, which prompted websites (and thus businesses) to focus on optimizing their websites in order to rank higher in search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was still pretty rudimentary, and few understood what was happening to return what results. Early pioneers of the digital marketing arena were often learning on the go how search engines worked, what algorithms were being used (and early understandings of how to manipulate these search engines), and how artificial intelligence can work to our advantage.


In 1998 after Google was invented, Microsoft and Yahoo propelled themselves into the internet solar system when the dot com bubble burst wide open, leaving small search engines in the dust if they didn’t quickly adapt. Keyword stuffing, meta fields, and tagging all became the gold standard for how to best advertise your business online. The internet was a huge ocean of information – businesses just needed to capitalize on it. 


When social media was introduced in 2002 (LinkedIn), we began to see an increase in digital marketing in an entirely new way. Social sharing of information was on the rise, and businesses were taking note. Experts started putting an emphasis on information sharing, and what is now defined as “user-centered design”. 


While demographic information has always been part of the marketing industry, the dot com bubble bursting created a plethora of “big data” – patterns and behaviors by humans, that marketing experts and tools can use to increase sales and better target their ideal customer. This push for capturing big data even forced some people to create new businesses such as Oracle, Domo and Optimove which focus on building new technologies to capture more big data, faster, with more accuracy, and to yield better results for their customers.


How are Digital Marketing and Print Marketing two peas in a pod?


Digital marketing consists of several categories and subcategories. The main categories are:


  • SEO
  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics


Within each of those categories exist dozens of subcategories, all can be inclusive of your print marketing strategy as well. Here are 5 ways to create a cohesive brand strategy and design across all media platforms!


  1. Marketing Expert – One of the easiest ways to incorporate your digital marketing with your print marketing, is to utilize a single company that understands both, such as Empire Sales Consulting ( ). Marketing experts need to see a complete picture of your marketing tools, content, colors, fonts, message, branding and more. It’s important you pay attention to what your customers are noticing about your branding experience from start to finish, not just when you first see your products and services. When creating digital marketing graphics, ensure your print marketing materials are using the exact same HEX codes, fonts, logos, and wording.


  1. QR Codes – Matrix barcodes created in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave, and were meant to track vehicles during manufacturing. These digital codes are easy to create online with QR code generators and printed. QR codes do exactly what you expect them to do – you scan them with your smartphone and they send you to a destination. Consider the possibilities when you have QR codes at your fingertips! You can direct customers to a time sensitive website that gives specific deals, or even to your Venmo/Facebook Pay/PayPal pages for payment processing.


  1. Successful offers in digital marketing – If you offered a deal online that was successful – try offering it in print form through mailers to your customer base. See just how well your customers respond depending on the marketing medium used. Use the big data available to you and create stunning advertisements that will attract your customers attention and lead to a higher return on investment. 


  1. Provide digital opt-ins on your print marketing materials – Invite your customers to subscribe to a newsletter, receive freebies and more when they opt-in. Offer to send catalogs, brochures, and other forms of promotional material when they subscribe to your email newsletter. Not only does this increase your email subscribers, it gives you multiple opportunities and avenues to reach the same customer with a consistent message.


  1. Social proof and reviews can truly make or break a business these days. Customers are more likely to purchase when they see their friends and family liking your page and posts, sharing their positive experiences with your business and enjoying your products. Use this vital information to your advantage and use those reviews on your print marketing materials. 


  1. Bonus! Invite your customers to be your brand. Netflix changed the digital marketing game when they began allowing their customers to use a third party app, Snapchat, to faceswap with their favorite characters. Your print marketing should include any partnerships you have to reach their customer base as well.


While the digital marketing world is evolving every single day, there are still guidelines that business should follow to best capture their customers’ attention, and to utilize their marketing dollars to the best of their ability. Print materials should compliment your digital marketing, and they should provide a consistent marketing message that keeps your customers engaged and your brand top of mind. If you are using different print marketing and digital marketing teams, make sure they are working as a single cohesive marketing team to develop a strategy that is consistent with your branding ( ). 


Digital marketing and print marketing don’t have to be some big issue that you keep putting off, because you aren’t sure what to say or if people will respond well to it. Both are something that requires time and attention and effort, but more importantly – both require consistency. It takes time to see results from either form of marketing and depending on who you talk with, they might tell you one is more important than the other. Decide for yourself how and where you want to spend your marketing dollars, but know that putting all of your energy into a single medium (ie digital or print) is leaving a lot of money on the table. You are leaving out an entire customer base that could be what’s holding you back from breaking through to the next level.