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Why print is more effective than digital: here’s the science that proves it
March 30, 2020

You have almost certainly seen that print influences you

Most of us will have received some sort of printed communication over the past few weeks. There’s a very high likelihood that we will have a better memory of this piece of print than of many of the e-mail communications we will have received. Even taking a piece of print to the recycling bin means that someone sees it and remembers who it is from.

Numerous studies show that the average person has a far higher recollection of a printed item than a digital communication. People are also more likely to engage with a printed communication and act on it.

But why is this? Naturally, some of this is down to the sheer amount of digital communication that we receive. But the studies that have been carried out show that print also wins when comparing a single communication. There are actually some very real reasons why print wins. In this blog, Where The Trade Buys reveals the science about why print is so much more effective. Let’s start with how we all take on board information.

Print is a sensory experience

We can touch print, and even smell it. That makes a big difference. When we touch we use an extra sense. A study commissioned by Martin Lindstrom shows that when we use an extra sense, our engagement increases by around 30%.

For digital, it’s different. But we can’t touch or smell digital. E rely just on looking at a screen. It doesn’t feel that we are interacting with a communication in the same way. And that brings us on to the next scientific reason for why print is more effective.

We read print differently to digital

Typically we act differently when we read print compared to when we read a screen. Studies published the Review of Educational Research and the DMA show that we tend to concentrate more and read everything when we read a piece of print. If you watch someone reading, you can see their eyes moving along each line.

It is rare to see this same eye movement if reading is on a screen. When we read on-screen our eye tends to jump around more. We jump from subhead to subhead. We look for keywords. We don’t necessarily read in paragraph order. As a result, we understand and remember less. Print also has one other advantage.

Print engages for longer

Print tends to hang around. According to the DMA, a typical piece of print is kept between 17 and 38 days in a consumer household. During that time it is likely to be seen by a number of people. They will often see the piece several times. It reinforces the initial engagement.

In contrast, much of our e-mail is deleted before we have even read it. We receive too much to be able to engage with everything. There is a much smaller chance that the recipient will engage with e-mail. Even if they do, the engagement time will be far shorter and much less meaningful.

If you want your communications to make an impact, use print!

It is not as expensive as you might think to use print. Check out our instant pricing calculator to find out how little a printed marketing campaign might cost. And, if you think that digital is cheaper than print, then you should talk to us.

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