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Matthew Ashmore

Print Marketing in a Digital World: Trust, Relevance and Sustainability

In our modern world, digital campaigns and marketing strategies are becoming ever more frequent. From target specific emails to sporadic webpage popups, the digital world seems to be flooded with ways to make you notice a brand or product. However, a survey from the CMO Council highlighted that 63% of people would respond more positively to a social media ad if it appeared on a more traditional advertising channel, such as print or mail.[1] This made us wonder how print marketing can stand out to us and be sustainable in such a digital world.

Digital Distrust

The over saturation of digital marketing is becoming an increasing annoyance to people. In a study of 2000 volunteers from the CMO Council, they found that from this over saturation 40% had already installed ad blocking software onto their devices, and a further 14% planned to install an ad blocker in the near future.

The bombardment of digital campaigns and marketing ads make it harder for companies to stand out and become trustworthy sources. With the fast and cheap accessibility of generating a digital ad, it can become difficult for consumers to tell the difference between a real brand and a con. The Royal Mail Market Reach Research team found that 87% of consumers rate messages delivered by mail as believable, compared to 48% for email. It was also noted that 65% felt confident that the contents of their posted mail remained private.[2] This statistic shows that traditional print marketing channels, such as newspaper print and direct mail, have many benefits in relation to customer trust, that cannot be replicated digitally.

The Personal Touch

The personal element of a physical, written message sent straight to your door also holds sincere value. We looked at some examples of where print marketing really hit the mark.

With around a quarter of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage, friends and family members often don’t know what to say. Having this in mind, the Miscarriage Association launched the campaign, For Cards of Acknowledgement. The campaign message was simple; create a small memento acknowledging the person’s grief, handwritten by a panel of women who had been through the same tragedy. These cards also held the contact details of the Miscarriage Association for additional support.

The campaign was launched the morning after Mother’s Day, with the cards being sold throughout many London based card stores. Overnight visits to the Miscarriage Association website doubled with 870,000 people discovering the campaign. Organic searches of the Association increased from 58,806 to 135,551 at campaign launch and Facebooks sessions increased from 901 to 6,390.

Another example of this comes from, a platform were people can donate money to fund classroom projects for teachers in the US. After mailing 2,000 handwritten letters to potential doners in their first year, the results saw over $30,000 of donations. Since then, the platform continues to use letter writing as their main focus of marketing. First time donators now receive a handwritten thank you note from the students themselves. In a recent poll it was found that 38% of people who received a thank you note were more likely to donate again.

The creative and personalised touch that that can be made with print marketing acts as an ingenious tool to not only spread awareness of campaigns but also make individuals feel positive and appreciated by the company, something that may be lacking in the faceless, digital world.


Paper is also an extremely renewable and sustainable resource. The paper industry today has many guidelines and respected certification schemes which ensure that the paper we use each day has come from a sustainable forest source. Two of the most recognisable certifications are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). 71% of wood and 83% of pulp purchased by the European pulp and paper industry is both FSC and PEFC certified, therefore allowing paper to be a sufficiently sustainable marketing tool when used correctly.

Unfortunately, some brands still reiterate inaccuracies and misconceptions of paper, claiming it to be a negative source to sustainability. These brands usually use phrases such as; “Go Green – Go Paperless” or “Go Online and Save a Tree Today”, and are common with popular brands you may already know and trust. These messages are known as Greenwashing, which is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology, or company practice.

The unnecessary push for people to switch from print to digital has also seen backlash from consumers. In a survey from Two Sides, it was found that 78% of people believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications (printed or electronically) from their service providers, and a further 62% believe they should not be charged more for choosing paper bills or statements. [3]

Every day we receive many different forms of marketing messages from brands, whether that be through the post, in our emails, placed in our favourite newspaper or magazine, or even just through scrolling on social media. Our modern world is filled with both digital and print, but from a sustainable and personalised marketing perspective, print continues to be a great way for us to engage with the brands we know and trust.