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The ROI of Print

By Craig Gustafson

The tracking capabilities of digital media have ad buyers everywhere endlessly chanting the ROI mantra. However, monetizing digital is elusive and print is still your primary revenue source.

How do you stay in business?

According to Kathi Simonsen, president of Simonsen Sales and Marketing, “You have to learn how to provide ROI for print, because this is how we make our money.” In her afternoon presentation at the MMPA Summit and Expo, Simonsen shared several ways to accomplish this.

First, print ads need to employ a compelling call-to-action. Specific language linking the offer directly to the product is key. Rather than “click here” use descriptive action verbs, such as “Download Now” or “Order Now.” The call-to-action needs to be located “above the fold,” and multiple calls are not out of the question.

But what creates a compelling call-to-action? Simonsen suggests that contests and giveaways are very successful, citing technology as a strong motivator. “People like to win,” she says, and gadgets tend to be strong motivators.

In a business-to-business situation, the motivation may be a white paper that offers information a CEO can use to make better business decisions. The key is to figure out what types of things appeal to your audience.

Other ways to track the ROI of print advertising include coded response tracking, dedicated web pages, dedicated 800 numbers, and micro sites. Micro sites, in particular offer publishers a unique opportunity, since they are a mirror of the client’s site which is hosted by the publisher. By driving response to the ad to the micro site, the publisher knows exactly what the response is. As a result concrete ROI can be provided to the client.

Of course, the next objection laments a lack of sales related to the ad. A client may even dispute the numbers because of a lack of sales. Simonsen cited research by Marketing Sherpa  which reveals that 70 to 90 percent of leads are never contacted by sales. Furthermore, connections to clients who respond to advertising drop significantly  (up to 90 percent) after just a week with no contact.

This is where publishers need to break new ground, according to Simonsen. “Marketers now think they are publishers. It is time for publishers to become marketers.”

Publishers must help their clients attract attention, then assist in nurturing those leads through response systems, partnering with or training their salespeople, or employing CRM systems such as Eloqua.

In this regard, creativity, interaction, and video reign supreme. The farther you can come out of the box, the more response your client will get—and thus more business for you.