Author Archives: Heidi Tolliver-Walker

About Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

How to Get Double-Digit Sales Increases


I just got off the phone with Cheryl Kahanec, EVP-Digital, for Earth Color. The topic was multichannel marketing, and as usual, Cheryl left me with a lot to think about. In particular, there was one client story that impressed me. Not just because of how the campaign was put together, but because of the work put in beforehand to ensure its success.

The client wanted to streamline its process for follow-ups sent to customers who shopped in its stores. If they made a purchase, the client wanted to say thank you and extend a cross-sell offer. If customers didn’t make a purchase, it wanted to give them an incentive to do so.

Before rolling out the new follow-up strategy, the client spent significant time and effort tracking the behavior of recent customers to determine which customers responded to which channels. It also experimented with the timing. This led to the creation of customer profiles that could be applied to its customer base across the board.

This information determined the strategy going forward. It determined to whom to send email only, to whom to send direct mail only, and to whom to send both. It also determined when to blast the email and when to drop mail for the highest effectiveness.

It was time and effort well spent. EarthColor’s client experienced double-digit increases in its sales and cross-sales. Clearly, the time and energy spent upfront was well worth the effort.

How much energy to your clients spend in understanding channel preferences and timing before deploying their campaigns? How can you help?

Why Are You Still Waiting on Personalized Content?


Are you still personalizing primarily by name and address? If that’s all you are doing, what is preventing you from digging deeper? I suppose “Customers won’t pay for it” might be the answer, and if so, what are you doing to make them want to?

We’ve all seen the data, and it just keeps coming. According to a just-released Direct Marketing News infographic based on data from AutoPilot, for example:

  • 75% of consumers are more likely to respond to an offer if it’s personalized vs. 17% who are more likely to respond if it’s generic.
  • 72% of consumers are frustrated when they receive offers that don’t relate to their interests or past purchases.

AutoPilot InfographicIncreasingly, the data we are seeing comes from sources of digital marketing (including the AutoPilot data), whether email or online. The focus on digital personalization is intense right now, which means that print marketing needs to keep up.

If your competitor down the street reinvented its production and workflow, adding boatloads of new services and doubling its production capacity, you wouldn’t just sit back with a piece of hay in your teeth and say, “Oh, look at that.” You’d do something about it. We’re talking about the same thing here. If you say, “My customers don’t care about personalizing print,” don’t just write it off as irrelevant to you or a mountain that is too high to climb. Make them care!

The good news is, the same demographics and purchase patterns that are used for email can be used for print. The data just need to be matched up with names and physical addresses rather than email addresses. If your clients are investing in personalized email, then they have the data for personalized print, too.


The Importance of A/B Testing Email


Relevancy GroupI just read an interesting statistic. According to an email study from The Relevancy Group, only 30% of marketers conduct A/B testing for their email marketing. Considering that more than 20% of marketers attribute 25% or more of their annual revenues to email, you’d think they’d be more scientific about it, but apparently not.

By encouraging your clients to A/B test not only their print pieces but their emails as well, you can create campaigns that really stand out in their effectiveness. In fact, here is some eye-opening data from Unbounce on the results that can be obtained by A/B testing digital campaigns:

  • By A/B testing its pricing, SafeSoft increased conversions by 100%.
  • By A/B testing the length its trial offer, HubSpot increased conversions by 110%.
  • By A/B testing the placement of its CTA, Inbound Strategy increased conversions by 217%.
  • By A/B testing the style of its graphic imagery, EA Sports saw a significant lift in “performance.”

These aren’t small gains. One-hundred percent, 110%, 217% — those are some incredible numbers.

Some other numbers I’ve seen recently that kind of blew my mind were related to subject lines in emails and what words were most effective and which weren’t. Sidekick, for example, has found that emails with “you” in the subject line are opened 5% less than those without. Emails with “free” in the subject line are opened 10% more than those without. Emails with “quick” in the subject line are opened 17% less than those without.

These are stats that not necessarily intuitive, but that’s where A/B testing comes in. By A/B testing, you can find out what actually works best for your clients, and you. Just as with print, depending on the product and service being sold, even a small lift in open and conversion rates can result in huge revenue gains overall.

A/B testing digital campaigns might be a little new and untried for many clients, but the payoff can be huge. With numbers like these, isn’t it worth getting out their comfort zone (and yours)?

“80% of My Sales People Will Never Get It”


I’m back from Graph Expo, and when I let me brain rest, it’s interesting what rises to the top. One of those things was a comment made by Niels M. Winther in the Executive Outlook on Sunday morning. The auditorium was packed, not just because it was the opening session, but because of who was speaking and why.

Niels has been a powerhouse in this industry for a long time — on the vendor side. He’s been the president or CEO of Heidelberg USA, Baumfolder, and the East Asiatic Company, and he has served on the board of directors for dozens of other companies. But then he did something unexpected. He jumped the fence and became a printer. Today, Niels is co-owner of ThinkPatented in Miamisburg, OH. What on earth was he going to say?

A lot, it turns out, and it’s not what most of the audience wanted to hear. Niels reinforced the trend we’re hearing more and more, which is that for companies to succeed, printing has to be seen as a tool, not as the “end all, be all” of profitability. It is interesting that ThinkPatented doesn’t refer to itself as a “marketing services provider.” It refers to itself as a marketing execution company.

To summarize in my own words, “value-added services” is a misnomer. It’s not about adding value to print because that continues to make print the focus. It’s about viewing the communications process as a whole and understanding where and how to plug in the different components as a means to an end. Often that will include print, but sometimes it won’t. It’s about accomplishing some kind of result, whether it includes print or not.

This is, in essence, the heart of what Niels said, and he was shockingly frank when one of the members of the audience asked what percentage of the salespeople understood and were on board. His answer? “Eighty percent of my salespeople don’t get it, and they never will.”

He went on to explain that while these salespeople are valued members of the ThinkPatented team, over time, they will move on through attrition, and when ThinkPatented hires, it will often be from outside the industry. “Our salespeople don’t need to know how to put dots on dots,” he said. “We can teach them that. They need to know how to sell it.”

This is something I saw repeatedly throughout the show. Printers who truly “get it” bringing in talent from outside the industry or fresh out of college or training programs, where they can learn to think and sell the way the industry is moving. Because like it or not, you can’t always teach an established dog new tricks.

Who’s Making Sense of the Data?


In the early to full adoption years of full-color personalized printing, we talked about how clients didn’t have enough data to produce fully personalized jobs. But as full-color personalized printing has entered a more mature stage, it seems that we haven’t had that discussion in awhile. Perhaps that’s because even smaller companies are drowning in data. They just don’t know what to do with it.

In a recent webinar, Barb Pellow, director of InfoTrends, cited a marketing survey from DOMO in which CMOs were asked to agree, strongly agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the following statement: “I am able to handle the volume of marketing data that’s available for analysis without being overwhelmed.” Sixty-six percent (66%) either disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement.

Yet when DOMO asked them to respond to, “I have access to all the marketing data I need,” 51% of CMOs disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement.

CMOs have more data than they know what to do with, but they still don’t have what they need.

Do you know what this sounds like? It sounds like a recipe for someone to come in and offer to help them define their goals, define the data they need to achieve them, and then either help them centralize that data from within their organizations or help them go out and get it.

Anyone want to volunteer?  Anyone . . . ? Anyone . . . ?

Trekk on Augmented Reality: Show, Don’t Tell


We hear a lot about augmented reality (AR) as the future, but who’s really using it? SciQuest, Jaguar, Chamberlain College, Nekoosa, ABCO, Blade Buddy, and Old Elk Distillery just to name a few — and they are using Trekk to do it.

Trekk ARJust today, I received Trekk’s AR promotional piece, a 60-page, spiral bound booklet filled with examples of live or proof of concept AR projects Trekk has created for its clients. The examples span the range of applications:

  • advertising and print
  • corporate communications
  • direct mail and catalogs
  • event marketing
  • packaging and point of sale
  • sales collateral

By scanning the page with an AR app like Junaio, users can visualize furniture in their homes, play a game of hoops, and watch nurses in scrubs pop out of the page and talk about nursing programs. It demonstrates just how much stock Trekk has placed in augmented reality and the broader category of mobile marketing as the future of marketing communications.

Why is Trekk so bullish on augmented reality? Not just because of the immersive experience, but because AR eliminates the interim step of the web. Viewers are taken immediately to content without having the Internet in-between.

Earlier this year, Target Marketing surveyed marketers to find out who’s using AR and the extent to which they are expanding their budgets for it. The magazine found that 18% of marketers surveyed are currently using AR in some fashion, and 5% are increasing their budgets for it. (Compare this to 41% of marketers using QR Codes and 14% increasing their budgets for them.)

These are not numbers that would bowl anyone over, but it’s still early yet.  Trekk is so confident that this is the future of marketing, in fat, that two years ago, it acquired dedicated space, added a full working video and photography studio, and hired additional staff for its AR and virtual reality (VR) sides of the business.

Regardless your attitude toward augmented reality, this is a beautifully produced book that shows the company’s commitment to this approach. It also demonstrates the power of “show, don’t tell.”

QR Code / Mobile Game on Labels


Yesterday, we were out for a burger and I saw something interesting on a bottle of catsup. It was a QR Code that led to a game of mobile Trivial Pursuit to help us pass the time until the food arrived.

HeinzI scanned the code, and instead of taking me to the game directly, it took me to a text link. I clicked the link and it took me to a mobile page for Heinz Table Games. There I was invited to input the ZIP Code and locate my individual store for customized discounts (or skip if I wanted to) and then access the game.

The game allowed me to spin a 3D, animated die, which twisted and turned like a real die, and then randomly selected the categories for us to play. We were able to answer questions, which triggered responses from the game. There was a variety of other animated elements that proved to be very engaging.

This was great QR Code application for a variety of reasons:

  • It was clear to the restaurant patron what the value was to scanning the code.
  • It provided value on a number of levels (entertaining game, way to pass the time waiting for food, accessing customized discounts for the restaurant in the future).
  • It provided the opportunity for the individual restaurant at which the game was played to increase customer loyalty by offering customized discounts to that particular location.

I regularly hear that QR Codes are dead, and yet when I am out and about, I see more and more of them used on labels, packaging, direct mail, marketing collateral, and other documents, and when I scan them, I find increasingly smart and effective uses of them.

Call me crazy, but QR Codes seem to be alive and well, and this is a great example of how to use one.

Rise of the 3D Preview for Short-Run Packaging


Several years ago when I started writing blog posts for a printer offering an e-commerce solution for short-run dimensional mailers, one of their claims to fame was the online 3D preview. Create the pop-up mailer then view a 3D animation immediately, allowing you to examine the mailer front and back, watch it fold up and fold down, and rotate the view to make sure you got it all right.

Today what used to be a truly standout offering has become far more common. This is notable, not just for dimensional mailers, but also for packaging, where the ability to catch alignment (and other) mistakes using 3D animation can prevent a lot of heartache.

If you haven’t seen the sample animations online, they are pretty incredible.

  • Using 3D proofing, you can view and rotate the box to ensure that you’ve properly aligned the graphics so that, once the box is folded, everything is in the right place.
  • You can doublecheck that the text didn’t end up upside-down on one of the panels or that the right images end up next to one another across the fold.
  • Animations allow you to actually watch the box being folded and unfolded, rotated, and manipulated as if it were right in front of you.
  • Some solutions will ensure that the right regulatory copy, font sizes, brand colors, and other elements are in place so that mistakes don’t get made.
  • Hard copy proofs can be minimized, saving days or weeks of time.

These are tremendous time- and mistake-savers.

3D previews are available from companies like CHILI Publish, Esko, and Dalim and have been added into the solutions of a variety of other DAM, press, and MIS suppliers. The comfort, brand control, and QA offered by such animations can be game-changers for printers wanting to get into these markets.


Do You Own Technology, or Does It Own You?


Wild Goose for DNI’m sitting on the deck of our family camp. There is no cellphone service here, and for the first time, we have wireless. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But the service is so slow that it doesn’t really matter either way.

It’s our annual vacation to New Hampshire, and it always prompts reflection on the role of technology in our lives.

We are inundated by technology. It is so infused into our culture, our daily routines, and our national consciousness that, without it, we are lost. I rely so heavily on Google Maps that I’ve forgotten how to read a paper map.

As I sit here, the pond is so still that the ripples don’t even seem as if they are moving. It is dead quiet except for the water from last night’s rain dropping off the leaves onto the canoes and kayaks below. Occasionally, the silence is broken by the sound of a screen door at the neighbor’s cabin or, if we’re lucky, the call of a loon.

It is from this perspective, I think, that we need to consider technology — as a beneficial add-on to our lives, not the engine that drives them. We don’t need technology. We choose it.

From a marketing and service provider perspective, this means remembering that every element of every campaign that leaves your shop is responded to by choice. No one has to open that mailer, click on that email, or participate in that social media campaign. Each time, it’s the recipient’s choice to do so, and that should never be taken for granted. Real, genuine benefit should drive the decisions behind the content, the timing, and the channel integration of those campaigns. Because rightfully, the recipient could be doing something else.

That said, I’m going to back to listening to the drops of the water on the canoes.

5 Tidal Shifts Signally AR as Today’s Reality?


I have gotten used to writing that AR is on the cusp of adoption, that it’s still too cost-prohibitive and complex to see widespread adoption as yet, but is that changing? Has it already?

I seen more and more AR on consumer products and signage, and I’ve run across applications designed to simplify the process of creating simple AR for novices. Packaged solutions for AR — imagine! Then today I interviewed MJ Anderson of Trekk, and it solidified this trend I was already seeing.

I remember Trekk from the early days of VDP/1:1 printing, and the company has evolved significantly since then. Today it is heavily involved in inbound marketing (it is a HubSpot reseller), and it has made a huge investment in augmented reality.

Although Trekk has already been behind a lot of AR projects you may have seen in this industry, Anderson noted 5 tidal shifts that signal that AR is set to explode:

1. Apple purchased Metaio. Metaio offered a complete end-to-end solution, the largest functional platform for creating deploying and managing AR experiences. In June 2015, without explanation, it closed its doors. Since then, it has been revealed that Metaio was purchased by Apple. Speculation runs high: AR standard on every iPhone?

2. Android announced product releases and platforms that are VR-focused (the more immersive experience) rather than AR-focused. Its Gear VR is getting a lot of play in the discussion about tethered vs. non-tethered VR.

3. Other major announcements have rocked the marketplace, including Facebook’s purchase Oculus Rift, a VR headset, and Microsoft’s intention to develop Hollow Lens, a wearable technology that is a generational leap forward from Google Glass. Nearly a dozen other companies (including Konica Minolta, Sony, Samsung) are doing things with wearables, as well, both for industrial and consumer applications.

4. Google strengthened the functionality of Google Cardboard, its app platform that allows users to create VR experiences on their mobile phonse or tablets executed using simple — very simple — cardboard foldable viewfinders and puts VR experiences in the hands of the average consumer for under $12.00. It also rolled out a learning environment, Expedition, based on Cardboard, that enables teachers to distributed shared VR experiences to their students in the classroom.

5. Massive growth in visual search, including Project Tango, which is getting real-world play by major companies such as Walgreen’s.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 years now,” says Anderson. “We’ve seen all the technology come down the pipe and the cycle it goes through. It starts with a good idea, then you have the early adopters. Next, standardization takes place and tools are built. Then it moves into mass acceptance and then eventually it obsolesces and dies. This time around, there has been an enormous activity and flood in the marketplace. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft—there are some very, very large players making large investments in developing products and standards for this technology.”

What does this mean for print? It means even more added value to a channel that already offers a unique value proposition. With costs coming down, development becoming democratized, and more widespread consumer acceptance, the road is opening for “early” adopters in our marketplace. (I use quotes since the technology itself is beyond the early adopter stage.)

If you’ve been curious about AR, it’s time to seriously check it out.