Digital Marketing for Printers in 2022: A Year To Remember

a blue image showing the digital marketing landscape

For many printers, digital marketing in 2022 was like a rickshaw ride on a rolling cobblestone road. Fast, bumpy, fun, scary, rewarding, painful, interesting, and exhilarating.

Things moved fast in the first few months of the year, mostly due to the macroeconomic post-pandemic surge. Consumers and companies were excited about getting “back to normal” as the pandemic faded. Demand for large-format print accelerated as trade shows, conferences, and company meetings resumed. Direct mail rebounded as more people returned to the office. Low unemployment, high consumer confidence, and low-interest rates drove corporate spending. In parallel, though, we had a sinking stock market, skyrocketing inflation, surging interest rates, continuing supply chain annoyances, and myriad geopolitical crises.

Digital marketing shared in the wild ride. Here are a few highlights and lowlights.

Many digital advertisers had to continue their long pivot as they learned to work around the 2021 iOS privacy feature change. It became more challenging for marketers to electronically target users based on their demographics, interests, and behaviors. Some advertisers shifted their spending to trackable, measurable print advertising, especially direct mail. It wasn’t a seismic shift, though, because demand for PPC (pay-per-click) ads continued its rapid upward trajectory.

Facebook Ads and Google Ads demonstrated the highest ROI rate of any paid digital channel, despite ever-increasing ad rates. Google’s average cost for the search keyword “commercial printing” rose to over $8.00 per click. Printers had to consider how many $8 visitors to their landing page it would take to convert to paying customers. With a .5% conversion rate, that number could be a $1600 customer acquisition cost. Ouch.

In 2022, of course, there is the Twitter story. The outcome of the Elon Musk upheaval is still undetermined but the trend is currently not good. In the week following Musk’s purchase more than 1.3 million users left the platform. Numerous major advertisers have also fled amidst the turmoil and policy changes.

Tiktok continues on its meteoric rise. The social video platform reports having over a billion monthly active users, with over 140 million in the US alone. B2B marketers in general, and printers in particular, have so far failed to embrace an effective TikTok strategy. The demographics skew very young, but smart marketers also remember this was the case with Instagram a few years ago. That mobile photo platform is now a leading contender for B2B marketing spending in 2022 and beyond.

Generally speaking, more printers in 2022 understand that digital marketing is a healthy partner to print marketing. Smart printers know that print-plus-digital is a natural fit when there is a cohesive marketing strategy, a compelling offering, and a well-understood customer.

In 2022, more commercial printers adopted comprehensive content-based SEO strategies for the first time. They are learning what the early adopters of inbound marketing learned a decade ago: SEO takes time and effort but it can have very high and enduring ROI.

In the end, most printers realize that there is no single digital marketing strategy that works the same for everyone. They know that marketing must be customized to the provider, the target customer, and the market conditions.

As we move to 2023, we are all wiser from our 2022 trials and learnings, but the game will continue to change. New digital marketing platforms, new technologies, and new applications will be introduced. Future-forward brands and print service providers will find effective ways to integrate the age-old value of print into these new opportunities. As we discover and learn how to follow new paths in 2023 and beyond, we can brace ourselves for a fun and fascinating new rickshaw ride.


Read David’s post from last month:

Read all of David’s posts here.

David Murphy Nvent Marketing author at Print Media CentrDavid Murphy is the founder and CEO of Nvent Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in digital marketing for the print industry. David has 30+ years of experience in the graphics and document print production industry. He has served as a board member and advisor to print organizations and associations including Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), Print Industries of America (PIA), Association for Print Technologies (APTECH), and Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation (EDSF). David was also awarded the Idealliance Soderstrom Society Award for Print Industry Leadership. David can be reached at ​



One Response

  1. These marketing strategies work. Of course we went throughout of hiring digital marketers to do it professionally. But if you can clear out a month to learn one of these strategies, You can trial and error what works for you in your area. Every company is different and so is every location.

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