Print or digital sales materials: Consumers want to decide

Thinking of using a PDF Instead of Printed Marketing Materials? Think Again

A compelling new research study looked at consumer preferences on receiving important information in print or digital form was commissioned and recently published by the EMA (Envelope Manufacturer’s Association)*.

It appears that printed matter is here to stay, and consumers across several age groups want to make their own choices when it comes to important documents, bills and statements.

The study also highlights an opportunity. Giving consumers the choice of print or digital documents (without added cost) may help to reinforce positive perceptions about customer service and brand.

Excerpts from the study

On Perceptions of Corporate Responsibility

Greed vs. genuine concern for the environment: 87% of the respondents believe that the main reason companies want to shift customers to electronic delivery formats is to save them money, NOT to be environmentally responsible.

Government Documents

Freedom of choice: 72% believe that under no circumstances should government agencies be allowed to force people to change from paper to electronic format for receiving documents that require action.

25.8%, or 30.8 million households, have NO regular Internet access. African Americans, Hispanics, the less educated, the unemployed, elderly and low-income households are all disproportionately represented in this group.

Americans with Internet access of all ages and ethnicities believe the government should take action to prevent shifts to electronic formats from hurting the disadvantaged. 85% say that decisions to remove paper-based options for government information should be subject to congressional oversight.

Surprising Views From Millenials**

Paper and the environment: When asked if consumers should be forced to shift from paper-format to electronic-format bills, statements and related documents in order to better protect the environment, 73% of young American adults responded “NO.”

Online payments: 59% of Americans, ages 18 through 24, believe it is wrong to make anybody, regardless of their situation, go on-line in order to receive or pay bills.

Trust is the Issue for Seniors

Paper or Digital: Nearly 73% of adults aged 65 and over still prefer paper format / delivery for some or all of their bills and statements.

Security: Seniors are concerned about the exposure of their personal & financial data, and feel that digital documents are more susceptible to being fraudulently altered than paper.

When asked: “If you are having a dispute with a company regarding a bill, statement, or other matter, do you believe that possessing a paper record / paper format printed and sent from that organization strengthens your case? 75% of older Americans responded that the paper format would carry more value.

Control and Cost

United We Stand: 70% of Americans do not want to be forced to shift from paper format to electronic / digital format.

Most prefer no penalty: 90.4% of respondents believe that companies that send bills, statements, and informational documents such as proxies or privacy statements should be required, if necessary, to allow customers to continue receiving these documents in paper format at no extra charge, no loss of discount, or other penalty.

Next Steps: Connect with Your Customers

Creating your own print or digital documents survey is an excellent way to reach out to your customers and update their contact information. You can include a few questions that invite feedback about other issues such as customer service, product needs, challenges and expectations.

Developing a survey to guage your customers preferences is a important project, but can be developed on a fast-track basis. If you have customer email addresses, SurveyMonkey is an easy to use online tool to build the survey, integrate it within a popular email tool such as MailChimp or My Emma and then analyze the responses. A web designer can usually help you customize the email and survey design quickly. 

If you prefer to produce a printed survey, consider using a graphic designer to help make the survey graphically engaging, easy to read and logical to follow. It helps to include a postage-paid return envelope.

Including an incentive to complete the survey can increase your response rates. Aside from gathering valuable feedback, surveys are a “non-salesy” method of connecting with your customers on a periodic basis.

If you need help with your survey project, give us a call or learn more about using online search to identify a graphic and web designer or inbound marketing firm.

*Prepared for the EMA Foundation by Cheryl Chapman & Susan LaChance – InfoTrends. ** Persons reaching adulthodd around the year 2000.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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