There is something special about a printed piece. Whether it’s an annual report, quarterly newsletter, or glossy sales brochure, sharing your message in print form can engage the senses in a unique way.
But in the age of mobile devices and social media engagement, there are also many reasons to turn your print piece into digital content.
I’m not saying you should completely give up your printed piece. Rather, creating a digital version of your print piece can do a lot to extend and promote your brand.
What I Don’t Mean by Turning Print Into Digital
First of all, let me be clear. I am NOT talking about putting a PDF of your printed document on your website. While this is certainly something you should be doing, it’s not really taking full advantage of the medium.
When I talk about turning print into digital, I’m talking about doing much more than that.
Print to Digital Strategy 1: Create a Landing Page
A simple way to move your print piece into the digital realm is to create a simple landing page that makes it easy for people to find your printed piece, even if it’s just a link to the PDF.
Creating a landing page allows you to promote your print piece online and through paid advertising on social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Plus, you can add engaging graphics and a clear call to action.
We recently did this for Swisher Commercial, with great results.
Swisher is a property management company that produces an annual Year-End Vacancy Report. This report showcases Swisher’s expertise in office vacancy rates in the Ann Arbor area.
Creating a landing page for this content allowed us to encourage people to sign up before the report was released and then direct people with a clear call to action to download the Vacancy Report once it was available.
We also built a social media campaign around the site to help increase downloads of the report.
Print to Digital Strategy 2: Create a Microsite
The next step up from a landing page is moving all or most of the content from your print piece onto a standalone microsite.
This site can be flat or can contain interactive elements. It can contain one page or multiple pages. I’ll dive more deeply into the reasons why you might want to create a microsite for your print piece below.
We recently created a microsite for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) to promote their annual Citizen report.
The University of Michigan has moved to this approach for their annual sustainability reports.
And of course, email marketing Platform Mailchimp has an amazing digital microsite for their annual reports.
Print to Digital Strategy 3: Create Content Marketing Pieces from your Single Printed Piece
Finally, your printed piece can be broken into many smaller pieces through creating content marketing pieces such as blog posts, videos, infographics and other digital content that can live on your website or social media channels.
This strategy may involve changing the articles or images in your printed piece to fit your content marketing needs.
Now that I’ve described what it means to turn your print piece into digital content, here some reasons why you should consider this approach.
Why You Should Consider Turning Your Print Piece into Digital Content
1. You Have a Targeted Email List
Do you already have a target list of people in a CRM (like Salesforce) or email marketing program (like Mailchimp)?
Then turning your print piece digital has the potential to reach a lot more of the right people.
While you may also have a lot of mailing addresses for those people, the prospect of mailing your print piece to all of them can get quite expensive. Sending an email directing contacts to view your annual report or yearly analysis online is much more affordable.
Plus, if you are using an email service like Mailchimp, you can track who is opening the emails and follow up in the future.
If you’ve been collecting emails for a long time and haven’t had a good idea of what to send these folks, a digital version of your printed piece is a great start.
2. The Print Piece Has Graphs and Charts
Does your print piece contain financial graphs, comparison charts or other visuals? These elements are ripe for the digital realm.
That’s because you can turn those graphs and charts into animated or interactive features on a digital microsite.
Doing this makes those numbers much more engaging and interesting and means that your audience is spending more time looking at the numbers and interaction with the information. It also makes the piece more dynamic and interesting than just numbers on a page.
3. You Have More Content Than Can Fit in a Printed Piece.
Another great reason to go digital is that you have room for the content you had to cut out of your printed piece.
Because you can create a digital microsite for your content, you can organize the content in ways that make it less overwhelming than pages and pages of printed material.
We found this to be the case for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority’s annual Citizen Report. We wanted to fit all of the content on a four-page 11X14 piece of paper, and therefore had to cut some content from the printed piece that was still interesting and valuable.
Putting the report on a microsite meant we could house all of the content without having to increase printing costs or figure out how to artfully cram it into a set number of pages.
4. You Want to Get Engagement and Feedback From Your Audience
Adding feedback forms and email list sign ups on a digital piece means that you can get your audience to react to your content right as they are reading it.
This is something that you just can’t do with a printed piece.
For public agencies and other organizations who want to communicate transparency, this is an especially important reason to look at digitizing your printed piece.
In addition, if your piece is digital, it’s easy for you to promote and share it on social media, which is another important way to drive engagement.
5. You Want to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
All of us have had the experience of reading a blog post or watching a video on a website and then clicking a link and reading another piece of content and on and on. If you have a digital piece that lives on your website or contains links to pages on your website, this means that someone looking at that digital piece also has a chance to learn more about your company or organization.
Increased knowledge can lead to a better relationship with your brand.
Another strategy you can use to get more people to visit your website or blog is to include extra content in those channels and direct people there from the printed piece.
I see this all the time in print pieces like the Sunday Parade where they encourage the reader to go online for even more content. And that content can include videos, surveys, and long form content that just doesn’t work as well in a printed piece.
6. You Want to Have a Better Handle on the Results of Your Content
In the digital realm, data is king. Using marketing automation tools, Google Analytics, or simply the reports from your email marketing program can give you a better sense of if your content is hitting the mark or if it’s falling flat.
Running a paid social media campaign on a channel such as Facebook can also give you tons of data on what kind of people are interested in your content. And because it’s all digital, you have a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to testing out different landing pages, different copy and images on ads directing people to your content and much more. You just can’t do any of this with a simple printed piece.
7. You Want to Extend the Reach of Your Content
If you are like most people, when you get a printed piece, you probably thumb through it once or twice and then recycle it or file it away. After that, it’s pretty much gone.
But what if your content could live on and on and new people could continue to discover it, years after the fact?
That’s the power of making a print piece digital.
In the era of content marketing, you can also break that one print piece into a number of digital pieces that provide evergreen content on your website for years to come.
For example, you could turn an article into a video, blog post or infographic.
These pieces will continue to show up in search engines and can also be more easily shared over social media. You can also take advantage of the power of social media by encouraging your Board Members and fans to share and like your digital piece on their social channels.
This has a huge impact because now you are not the only person telling your story; your advocates are sharing it, too.
Social media is simply a platform for communication. By making your piece digital, you are making it that much easier for people to talk about and engage with your piece in a way they just can’t when it’s simply words on paper.
To Recap: Why Turn A Print Piece into Digital Content?
Print isn’t going away anytime soon. Nor should it. There is a time and a place for printed materials, especially when you are talking to someone face to face and want them to leave with something tangible.
However, when you turn that print piece into digital content, by creating a landing page, a microsite, or other pieces of content, you’re creating a huge amount of value that can extend your brand and bring you even better results.
Want help? We’re here for you. Contact us at 734-769-4929 or email@example.com to get started.
Nancy Shore is VP of Client Success at Q+M. She’s also currently on three non-profit boards. Whew!