By Smita
26 Apr 2021

Striking the right balance between print and digital communications

The digital vs. print debate is one that has been raging for decades now, posing serious questions for any organisation looking to forge stronger connections with their customers while keeping them in the loop of any significant changes to their product or service.

Traditionally, the feeling has been that the dominance of digital is inevitable and that print will be phased out. This feeling has only been strengthened by seemingly endless encouragements for consumers to “go paperless” on everything from electricity bills to financial statements. In recent years, the numbers also suggest digital is emerging victorious, with the total number of addressed letters falling from 14.34 billion in 2011-12 to 9.99 billion in 2019-20.

Today, with digital native millennials and Gen Zs becoming increasingly powerful consumers, it would be easy to assume this trend will continue. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case, with recent research suggesting that we could now be seeing a flattening of both the growth in digital and the fall in print volumes as organisations settle on a blend between the two.

But what’s behind this change, and how can financial services organisations strike the right balance between print and digital?


The value of print in a digital world

While there are lots of advantages to digital communication, from the ability for easy measurement to its low relative cost – print is far from dead. This is particularly true in financial services. In a recent survey by Consumer Action in the United States, 38% of respondents said that they preferred receiving bills and other important communications in the post, even if they pay online.

There are lots of reasons for this. Paper statements can serve as a useful reminder to pay bills (especially important given how easy it is for an email to get lost in the inbox), they can help provide an easy paper trail of communications with a service provider, while allaying fears around digital security.

Maintaining the ability to communicate with less digitally savvy customers is also an important factor in print communications hanging on in the face of ever-multiplying digital channels. While the view that older users are less comfortable shifting all communications to digital can be an unhelpful stereotype, it is true that any move to exclusively digital comms will results in some customers getting left behind.


The importance of choice

It is also true that while younger, digital-native consumers might be comfortable receiving digital communications from their providers, it doesn’t naturally follow that they will want all communications to be sent digitally.

Choice is important, especially in financial services where customers are likely to be sent pages of documents containing everything from monthly statements, to warnings on fee and interest rate changes.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Customers will all have different comfort levels and preferences when it comes to digital communication, which are likely to evolve over time and will differ depending on the subject and the product.

Ultimately, the best approach for most customers is likely to be a blend between print and digital communications. But how can organisations strike the right balance?


Finding the sweet spot

Finding the right balance between print and digital communication ultimately relies on an in-depth knowledge of how a customer engages with your content. Providing an all-encompassing digital platform that gathers all of your customer data, OnePlatform can deliver a much more detailed understanding of how customers are engaging with your communications, and what delivery method works.

OnePlatform also enables easy segmentation depending on customer preference, allowing for bespoke rules and parameters that define how an individual piece of communication is sent to a customer.

The way customers engage with communications is never going to be set in stone, so it is also important to have the ability to rapidly change approach when the data suggests. OnePlatform is built to facilitate quick changes, allowing you to test different approaches and rapidly optimise yours based on the data you get back.

Importantly, the platform seamlessly integrates with legacy systems, meaning that you can deliver the perfect blend of print and digital communications, without the need for a time-consuming and expensive overhaul of existing technology.