The redefined landscape: print, digital, and a collaborative future

As marketers — and their audiences — navigate a world dominated by digital channels, the question of print's future remains a relevant one from both a strategic and tactical perspective.

New research from RRD delves into the evolving relationship between print and digital, exploring how marketers in 2024 are not only utilizing print, but identifying potential marketing synergies within a digitally-driven ecosystem.

The study, based on a survey of more than 300 in-house marketing decision-makers and managers, highlights four relevant themes:

  1. Marketers embrace technology to support print campaigns.
  2. Print’s relationship status with digital isn’t complicated.
  3. Customer data is the fuel powering personalized print campaigns.
  4. Print marketers look to streamline and strengthen their roster of vendors.

Woman scanning qr code from magazine.

Report Vitals

What we did: Surveyed 300 in-house marketing decision-makers and managers from U.S.-based organizations running print marketing campaigns. All respondents are involved in decision making for their organization’s print marketing.

When we did it: Q1 2024

Why we did it: To better understand how brands are utilizing print marketing to overcome the challenges of the digital age and positively influence omnichannel campaigns.

Report highlights

1. Marketers embrace technology to support print campaigns.

The digital transformation of print marketing isn't simply a case of packaging everything up and moving it online. Instead, it has become a process of convergence and innovation. Marketers’ intention is not to replace traditional marketing channels, but harness technology to enhance the effectiveness and reach of print in a digital world.

RRD research shows a strong agreement among marketers that print can effectively complement digital efforts by reinforcing messaging and driving traffic to online channels. This synergy between digital and print is further highlighted by the widespread adoption of new technologies across both fields including QR codes, automated triggered messaging, web-to-print, and artificial intelligence (AI).


of marketers use QR codes in their print marketing
and expect for that to continue.

Marketers that have adopted web-to-print technology and expect to continue using it:

For marketers working with a print vendor to leverage web-to-print technology, these are the top materials they are producing:

Marketers using web-to-print technology say these are its top four advantages:

  1. Reduced cost of demand printing
  2. Personalization and customization of the message
  3. Improved efficiencies and streamlined workflow
  4. Enhanced brand consistency

AI adoption to support print marketing:

More than one-third of marketers are using automated triggered messaging for their print marketing campaigns — and expect for that to continue.

Expert take:

With easier access to tech, companies are prioritizing print efficiency, not extinction.

The narrative surrounding print marketing has undergone a shift in recent years. Companies are not simply abandoning print; they're actively seeking ways to optimize its effectiveness and value.

This strategic approach manifests in several ways: utilizing QR codes to bridge the gap between print and digital experiences, embracing new technologies like AI for enhanced targeting and data collection, and increasingly adopting web-to-print solutions that streamline workflows, reduce costs, and facilitate personalization.

These adjustments paint a clear picture: modern marketers are prioritizing efficiency and innovation as print remains a relevant and powerful tool within their omnichannel arsenals.

Margo Yohner

Margo Yohner, SVP, Commercial Print, RRD

2. Print’s relationship status with digital isn’t complicated.

While digital channels excel at immediacy and reach, a well-designed print piece offers a tangible, engaging experience that can solidify brand messaging and leave a lasting impression.

The value and impact of a collaborative strategy isn't just theoretical. Our research suggests that a "digital primary, print secondary" combination is seen as the most effective approach by marketers — highlighting the value of print in supporting, not replacing, digital efforts.

The diverse applications of print further illustrate its strategic role: targeting specific audiences with personalized messaging, cross-channel engagement through digital integration, and fostering brand storytelling and credibility. Forward-thinking marketers understand the power of print not as a standalone entity, but as a complementary force to creating a cohesive marketing experience.


of marketers with print marketing communication programs are embracing strategic integration of print and digital channels in 2024.

Of those marketers, 51% describe their print and digital marketing channels as “closely integrated and tightly coordinated.”

Top three benefits of incorporating print marketing with digital:

  1. Print can reinforce digital messaging
  2. Print can drive traffic to both websites and social media platforms
  3. Print can provide a tangible experience to cut through the digital clutter

Nearly half of marketers see the combination of "digital primary, print secondary" as the most effective marketing approach.


of marketers are using print marketing to overcome digital fatigue.

How are you using print marketing to overcome the challenges of digital marketing fatigue? Top three responses:

Expert take:

The era of debating print versus digital is a thing of the past.

The dichotomy between print and digital has created more limitations than good, especially for any marketer choosing a side. As digital marketing continues to see tremendous growth, we continue to see print as a powerful tool to amplify those efforts.

This strategic blurring of lines strengthens our marketing strategies and ultimately makes our digital channels even stronger. At RRD, we know print works, but the future lies in its seamless integration with a broader omnichannel approach.

Embracing new technology can transform the print-digital relationship from siloed channels to creating a marketing force multiplier that not only personalizes the experience and strengthens brand engagement, but also provides richer audience insights, allowing for data-driven campaign optimization.

Stefanie Cortes

Stefanie Cortes, Director of Strategic Analysis, Direct Marketing Group, RRD

3. Customer data is the fuel powering personalized print campaigns.

Building successful multichannel campaigns hinges on the ability to personalize experiences and connect with audiences on a deeper level. To achieve this, in the midst of a crowded digital environment and changing data regulations, organizations have prioritized not only how they obtain first-party data, but also utilize it.

By harnessing this rich information, gleaned through various channels like direct interactions, surveys, and loyalty programs, businesses gain invaluable insights into individual preferences, buying habits, and even feedback. The result: tailored messaging and visuals across various channels to create cohesive and personalized campaigns.


More than two-thirds of organizations are now personalizing their print communications.

For marketers working with a print vendor to personalize their communications, these are considered their primary sources for first-party data:

Top three most effective types of first-party data used to personalize print marketing materials:

  1. Customer feedback
  2. Buying history
  3. Customer demographics

Top three plans to improve how first-party data is obtained in 2024:

  1. Conduct customer feedback sessions
  2. Deploy social media engagement strategies
  3. Enhance customer loyalty programs

Expert take:

Effectively orchestrating campaigns will always require a personalized, data-driven approach.

While reaching broad audiences is crucial, truly connecting with the individuals within them requires access to high-quality first-party data. It provides a wealth of information gathered from direct interactions with your audience and unlocks the potential for engaging, personalized campaigns.

For example, in the higher education space, we are working closely with institutions to optimize their use of their first-party data by tailoring messaging based on individual preferences, interests, and engagement stages — from initial contact as a prospect to enrolled student and even proud alum.

As access to readily available third-party data diminishes, companies must become proactive data stewards. Look inward to unlock the rich potential of your own data and consider strategic partnerships to fill any gaps. Seek vendors who excel in deep audience segmentation and building lookalike audiences to reach new customers who share similar characteristics to your existing base.

Jeff Fanter

Jeff Fanter, VP of Sales, Education Focus, RRD

4. Print marketers look to streamline and strengthen their roster of vendors.

The marketplace continues to seek stabilization by holding steady with current suppliers. With more than two-thirds of our survey respondents working with one to three print vendors, this trend tracks for print marketers as well.

While a deep roster of print vendors may lend itself to a higher degree of specialization (services) and leverage (price), this has also led to complexities and a lack of centralized oversight. Today, marketers’ priorities have shifted to improving cost management, simplifying operations, improving response times, and strengthening existing relationships.


of marketers say it would be ideal to have the same number of vendors, or even fewer, by next year.

Top three influencers (in descending order) affecting how marketers select a print vendor:

  1. Cost
  2. Speed (turnaround time)
  3. Technical expertise

How many print vendors do you work with now?

1-3 4-6 7 or more

Of those marketers likely to consolidate, the majority will do so by remaining with existing vendors

Two leading benefits marketers see in consolidating the number of their print vendors:

Top five marketer concerns when it comes to consolidating print vendors:

  1. Replacing specific services
  2. Losing flexibility in negotiating prices
  3. More dependence on a smaller number of suppliers
  4. Losing the ability to get competitive bids
  5. Ending long-standing relationships

Expert take:

Streamlining vendor relationships presents a valuable opportunity.

Improving vendor management has become a universal priority. We’re seeing this play out in the life sciences space. There’s a tremendous opportunity for organizations to integrate their marketing efforts, yet valuable resources remain tied up in managing complex relationships across multiple vendors.

Right now, many of our own clients exhibit a greater interest in forging strategic partnerships with fewer, more comprehensive providers who can offer a diverse range of solutions that can support multiple facets of their product’s commercialization (e.g., data analytics, logistical support, creative design, packaging and labels).

For companies ready to embark on vendor consolidation, it's crucial to identify partners who not only possess capabilities beyond their core service but also have a penchant for collaboration and can prove their adaptability to changing market demands.

Ken Gammon

Ken Gammon, SVP, Healthcare Solutions, RRD

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