In our digital world, where some are loudly extolling the virtues of a paperless environment, why do we still love paper? For a start, paper has been around for a long time. It was first invented in China around 206 AD, replacing earlier writing materials such as vellum and papyrus. It made its way to eastern Europe by the 10th century and to northern Europe during the 1400s. Paper mills were built locally and gradually paper became increasingly affordable.

However much we love technology, most of us have to admit that there's just something more special about hearing a letter drop onto the doormat than there is about seeing the number of emails in your inbox has gone up (again). You can't help but feel a little curiosity about what's inside an envelope. In addition, there is still a perception for many people that a letter has more importance than an email. If someone takes the trouble to put something in writing, it tends to carry more weight than a digital message. It gives a sense of being either more serious or more personal.

Think greetings cards. The clue is in the name. Can you really convey the message that you're thinking of someone personally if you send an e-card? For personal relationships it's a little cold, and for business relationships it can hardly have the same impact as a suitably branded card that sits in an office and may catch the eye of your customer again and again. A Christmas card has the potential to remind your customer of you for two or three weeks during the run up to Christmas.

Going paperless may be perfectly suited to some documents such as bank statements, where it is a case of providing information to the customer but not requiring a response. However, when it comes to attracting a prospective customer's attention and seeking action from them, paper is a highly effective means of getting noticed.

Emails are very quick to be deleted, without a single word being read. Figures for email opens are relatively low, averaging around 20% for B2C and an estimated 25% for B2B email. By contrast, open rates for print mail remain high despite competition from other channels, with around 92% opened by customers. Furthermore, 48% of recipients in the UK take action in response to direct mail. A creative piece of direct mail can grab your attention in a millisecond – whether it's the envelope or the contents of a flyer that makes it first stand out. The numbers stack up for the return on investment too. Digital marketing yields an approximate £3.12 per pound invested, whereas print gives a £3.22 return for each pound spent.

Of course email and other digital formats have their place in any marketing strategy today, but they should not and cannot replace print. One of the key things is to ensure that all your paper and digital marketing and communication is completely aligned, so that a consistent message is delivered to the customer whichever channel is used.

Our passion for paper is clearly not fading just yet. In fact, according to research conducted this year by Iron Mountain, nearly one third of UK SMEs are currently increasing their use of paper. Whatever your company's printing needs, HelloPrint can help you with our comprehensive range of printing services. Contact HelloPrint today to learn more about the power of print for your business.