As technology continues its rapid pace of innovation, there has been a skyrocketing adoption of high-tech consumer devices -- such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops -- with webcams. Smartphone usage in particular is on the rise. In fact, The Nielsen Company, a global leader in measurement and information on what consumers watch and buy, predicts that by the end of 2011, one in two Americans will own a smartphone.
With the digital age in full swing, consumers are becoming more tech-savvy. To effectively reach them, marketing professionals must implement strategies that deliver messages quickly, easily, and interactively -- and in a way that leverages popular consumer technologies. For many companies, interactive print is an increasingly attractive option -- helping them connect emotionally with their audiences and bridge the divide between traditional print methods and the digital world.
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Examples of interactive print
Popular forms of interactive print include personalized URLs, quick-response codes, and augmented reality. These three interactive print strategies are often cost-effective and can make marketing collateral pop while helping marketers create immersive, interactive brand experiences.
- Personalized URLs (PURLs)
PURLs send people to a website that is customized specifically for them, where they can access information quickly and with minimal effort. By using PURLs to provide relevant, personalized information at the click of a button, marketers can increase response rates and engagement, and create a more positive impression of their brand. PURLs also enable marketers to tap into in-depth analytics -- showing how each recipient engaged with the campaign.
- Quick-response (QR) codes
QR codes enable marketers to take advantage of the smartphone revolution -- making these ubiquitous devices an integral part of campaigns. Individuals can use their camera phones to scan the printed, 2D barcodes that appear on marketing collateral and other promotional materials -- instantly revealing digital content. This content might be a video, application, vCard, website material, or more, all designed to provide additional information about a given brand. QR codes can be printed in any shape or form, including company logos, and provide an easy, innovative way to enhance in-store displays, business cards, print ads and direct mail pieces.
- Augmented reality (AR)
Through AR, large, printed graphics transform into interactive 3D images when placed in front of a webcam. With media such as HD video and 3D movies pervading the marketplace, AR gives marketers the opportunity to leverage the ubiquity of webcams and deliver their messages in a way that resonates with consumers. AR can be used for a variety of marketing initiatives such as adding excitement to product launches with 3D product images.
Tips for effectively utilizing interactive print
The adoption of interactive print will continue as technology advances. Here are some tips to help make marketing campaigns stand out with interactive print:
- Keep your audience in mind
Think strategically about your message, and how to apply interactive print in a way that will make sense to your target audience.
- Verify ink coverage
Make sure your printer has good coverage on ink so that your QR code or other interactive print component appears and functions correctly. If there isn't ink where there should be or, conversely, if ink appears where it shouldn't, a device might not be able to read the code or graphic correctly, resulting in technological failure.
- Test, test, and test again
Don't neglect the obvious -- when using interactive print in marketing campaigns, test it out to make sure it works. You should try the code or graphic on various devices. You might have the most creative idea, but if it doesn't work correctly, you run the risk of alienating consumers, wasting money and tarnishing your reputation.
- Be memorable
Interactive print prompts consumers to become actively involved in your marketing campaign -- whether through clicking a link, scanning a barcode, or capturing an image with a webcam. This increased consumer interaction will help your campaign be more memorable and stand out in consumers' minds.
Interactive print enables marketing professionals to reach target audiences in new and innovative ways that leverage the consumer devices prevalent today. When done creatively, strategically and in a way that directly maps back to a company's brand, interactive print can be a powerful medium to increase consumer engagement and build brand awareness.
Troy Forget is senior marketing manager for the printing products and services business of Staples Advantage.
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