Archive for the ‘Digital Nirvana’ Category

Why Your Clients Should Be Offering Email Couponing

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

If you’re a printer, you want clients to spend more money on print. So why should you encourage them to offer email coupons? Because email coupons are trackable, and they tell your clients what their customers are buying. That tells your clients a lot about those customers they can use for higher value print personalization later.

Experian Marketing Services’ 2013 4th Quarter email trends and analysis found a 50% year-over-year increase in the number of email campaigns offering coupons. As reported by MediaPost, whether the coupons were redeemable in-store, online, or both, email blasts with coupons outperformed other promotional mailings on open, click, and transaction rates. They also had 48% higher revenue per email ($0.10 for coupon mailings compared to $0.07 for other promotional mailings) in Q4 2013.

That’s a very active, engaged audience that can feed you a lot of information. Let’s say your customer is a specialty retailer offering a variety of pet products. It doesn’t have a loyalty program and isn’t large enough to track data at the point of sale. But you start sending email campaigns with coupons. The coupons that get printed, clicked through, or downloaded tell that customer which households have what types of pets. This allows you to help the store craft targeted campaigns directed at their specific pet needs.

Over time, it can alert the store to changes in pet ownership, too. Suddenly, the Smith, Jones, and Gordon families are downloading coupons for puppy chow. It’s a pretty good bet they just purchased a puppy. This can prompt mailings for grooming services, puppy beds, crates, and a variety of other products they are likely to need. In six to eight months, puppies grow into nearly full sized dogs, and those families will need larger beds, larger crates, training classes, flea and tick control for larger dogs, and so on.

One of the big hurdles to detailed targeting for small and mid-sized businesses is the lack of tracking at the point of sale. It’s great to talk about targeting and personalizing based on past purchase behavior, but most small and mid-sized marketers don’t know what their customers are buying. Email couponing gives insight into those behaviors in a way that’s realistic and affordable even for small businesses.

Are in-plants up to speed on offering cross-media marketing services?

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Although cross-media marketing services are becoming more prevalent amongst print and communications partner providers, we in the print industry have yet to discuss how this evolution affects in-house, or in-plant, offerings. Last week, Canon Solutions America sponsored an InPlantGraphics webinar surrounding the question at hand: How are in-plants making the cross-media connection? Barbara Pellow, Group Director at InfoTrends, offers key background information on how in-plants are moving up the value chain and provides a breakdown of planned market investments for 2014. This overview could not have been more appropriately complemented by the examples of leading edge solutions from one of the industry’s most progressive in-plants at The World Bank. Both David Leonard, Manager of Printing & Multimedia Services, and Jimmy Vainstein, Printing Facility Manager, pose important questions and review a business model in transforming a print-focused in-plant to a full service, cross-media solutions provider.

We know having a broad range of services and capabilities, price point, and speedy turnaround time are at the top of everyone’s vendor criteria wish list. But the kicker surrounds what types of services are provided to connect with the 2014 target audience. In an InfoTrends survey, mobile marketing, multi-channel integrated marketing, web hosting, and web design services trump that wish list. This by no means comes as a surprise given the direction of communications trends and increased digital access. Barbara drives home the point: “This market is in transition. It’s an evolution, not a revolution.” The winners in this evolving market are going to figure out how to make paper interactive, how to extend value of media, and how to create solutions that are easily measurable.

That might sound like a complicated process, but really it boils down to first understanding what options are out there. For example, four ways to make print interactive include:

  1. Mobile codes – example: QR code, which links to web address
  2. Mobile messaging – example: text message containing discount receipt instructions
  3. NFC Tags – example: printed poster containing tag, which links to mobile web offer
  4. Augmented Reality – example: printed brochure, which links to digital expanded version

Knowing these channels, understanding a client’s needs, and investing in the proper software and print solutions will make for a seamless transition.

There is tremendous room for growth in most in-plants. InfoTrends highlights that the majority of in-plants foresee a stable or increase in overall revenue thanks to strategic software purchases and a re-vamped business model. As Dave and Jim explain, these investments strengthen the goal of knowledge sharing while delivering cutting edge, multi-channel communications solutions. Their business model explanation and examples successful communications pieces drive home the fact that in-plants can provide equally—if not more-so—competitive solutions.

For more insight and key questions to consider from Dave and Jim, be sure to check out the full webinar:

 

Marketers Are Focusing on Acquisition Budgets: Are You?

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Target Marketing just announced its “2014 Media Usage Survey,” and while folks might be scrambling to analyze the growth in budgets and ratios of print to digital spending, the nugget I found most interesting was this: marketers — your customers — are planning to spend more on customer acquisition than customer retention in 2014.

Considering that most marketers reported either increasing their marketing budgets or holding them steady this year, this data spells very good news for MSPs. Just as valuable, however, is knowing that marketers plan to spend more of those budgets on customer acquisition. This tells you where to focus and craft your pitch.

B-to-B marketers foresee a 45% rise in acquisition budgets, but only 30% are increasing retention. It’s similar for B-to-C (42% vs. 34%) and both (40% vs. 33%). A couple years ago, marketers were playing defense and increasing retention spending. This year, they appear to be back on the hunt to increase market share.[1]

How does this help you?

  • Talk to customers about the shift in marketing climate. If their competitors are spending more on acquisition, that means your clients need to be prepared. Competitors are going after their customers harder than ever. This is an opportunity to talk to your customers about expanding their own budgets.
  • Develop new strategies and relationships for list acquisition and refinement, profiling, and cloning. Help your customers do what their competitors are doing — going after someone else’s customers.
  • Expand your capabilities in the areas of unusual finishes, folds, and bindings, all of those things that make the components of your clients’ marketing campaigns stand out. You always meant to do that but never had time. Now is the time to do it.
  • Add new suppliers if necessary. Be willing to spend the time experimenting with new mailing formats, the effect of colored substrates and envelopes, on-envelope personalization, and other elements so you’re ready to roll.  This is a customer acquisition environment now. Eye candy is more important than ever.
  • Become comfortable with selling and implementing A/B testing. As the competitive environment heats up, your clients need to be focusing on what really works (not what they think works). The more you can help them, the more valuable you become as a marketing partner.

Finally, be ready to switch it up to customer retention strategies if the data changes next year!

 

Print? REVOLUTIONARY? Hmmm …

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Dartmouth researcher Praveen Kopalle did a study to find out why some mobile Web and app users refuse to click on ads. His research identified seven reasons that certain smartphone and tablet users say no to online advertising: small screens; no time to look; difficulty returning to original content; trouble getting/staying online; frustration with mobile phone interruptions; lengthy load times;  and no appetite for ads, period.

Hmmm.. no such problem with print ads, right? After all, print ads are just sitting there. Nothing additional remains to be done: no clicking, no loading, no waiting, no eye strain, no service interruptions!

Somebody has noticed that print has its place.

Newsweek’s new owner, IBT Media, is planning to go back into print. This tiny digital publishing company thinks a portion (70,000) of its loyal online readers are ready for a print version.

After years of colossal failure, who would pay for Newsweek in print, skeptics wonder. IBT founder Etienne Uzac says, “You would pay only if you don’t want to read anything on a backlit screen … [print] is a luxury product.”

Hmmm …

Steven Cohn, editor in chief of Media Industry Newsletter, has another wild notion. “A print magazine is kind of a prop to give the web better exposure.”

Imagine that! PRINT! A luxury product … a prop for online products.

Hmmm …

 

 

 

3 Strategies for Keeping Customers Mailing that You Might Be Overlooking

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

With the increase in postal rates, are your customers becoming more timid about mailing? Here are three strategies you can suggest to both increase their confidence in their mailing efforts while also strengthening your relationship with them and boosting their confidence in you as someone who does more than print.

1. Test even clients’ “go to” lists. 

Especially as postal rates rise, it’s important for your clients to know what’s working and what’s not. The only way to really know that is to test it. Everyone has a favorite “go to” list, but the list that was working best six months ago isn’t necessarily the one that is working best today.

It’s easy to forget that the end user’s needs, perceptions, and relationships with marketers change over time. Encourage your clients to test old lists as well as new ones.

2. Place greater priority on creative.

In this industry, we think lists, segmentation, personalization, offer. But really creative graphics and messaging are becoming more important than ever.  Instead of adding a new field to the database, how about suggesting that they test some new creative ideas instead?

Suggest running A/B tests on different graphics, different creative approaches, and different layouts. Those things can affect response rates more than many clients may realize.

Imagine encouraging them to test a variable they had not considered in the past and they discover a subtle change that increases their response rates considerably. Suddenly, you’re the hero.

3. Consider different mailing formats.

I recently read a study of different mailing formats. A marketing agency tested personalized letters, static letters, letters with personalization on the envelope, letters without personalization on the envelope, and several others. Your clients should be testing these formats, too.

You could also test different folds, different envelope colors, different sizes of postcards. All of these things have the potential to impact response. Again, it’s easy to focus on lists, personalization, and offer, but we shouldn’t overlook traditional elements, either.

Remind customers that running tests doesn’t necessarily mean increasing production and mailing costs. In traditional A/B tests, you are testing segments within the mailing, so their volume are still the same. But the nuggets they learn can make a huge difference in their response rates . . . and keep them mailing.

 

Writing Better Blog Posts for the Printing Industry

Friday, March 7th, 2014

In terms of pure volume, I probably write more blog posts these days than anything else. New case studies and white papers may go up on printers’ websites every quarter or so, but blog content needs to be added on a continual basis. The challenge is, everybody needs blog content, but most companies are drawing from the same well.

We see the same blog topics over and over. What is personalized printing? What’s happening with postal rates? How to integrate social media into your marketing. How can you make your blog posts stand out? Why should someone come to your blog as opposed to someone else’s?

As much as you can, share your own expertise and experience.  There are hundreds of places for your clients to get general industry information. They don’t need to come to your blog to do it. What they should get from your blog is insight from your company in how to implement what they read about elsewhere and the unique and creative things your company is doing to capitalize on the trends.

For example, you can assume that your clients know what personalized printing is. So what particularly interesting campaign did you develop recently? You don’t have to divulge details. Genericize it. Did you recently solve a customer problem? How did you do it?

One of my favorite blog posts recently involved interviewing the printer’s designers. I wanted to know what mistakes in designing for 1:1 printing they regularly saw from their clients and how to avoid them. This was hypothetical, “same thing applies to everybody” post. It was real nuts and bolts, based on the designer’s daily experiences. That is information this printer’s clients aren’t going to get anywhere else.

I wrote a post on wide-format printing using a similar approach. How is designing a file for wide-format printing different from commercial printing? What do you have to do differently? For this post, I talked to one of the production staff.  The result was a “top three mistakes” list, but not a general one. It’s one based on the production person’s experience at his company, with its clients, in its unique market space.

To create blog posts like this, you need to plan and schedule time with the right staff members to get the information. Perhaps rotate departments so that you are drawing information from a different department each week. Week 1: design team. Week 2: production team. Week 3: sales and business development teams. Week 4: customer service team. By rotating topics, you keep the information fresh.

It all adds up to new, fresh information that is genuinely useful to your customers and gives them a reason to keep coming back.

In need of Direct Mail Direction?

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Our very own blogger – Trish Witkowski of FoldFactory.com – just announced she will launch her first online course Direct Mail Strategy. Her goal? To give direct marketers, designers, print professionals and small businesses the tools and strategies needed to get powerful results from mail.

The Direct Mail Strategy course covers mailing lists, marketing strategies, writing offers, engagement techniques, format options, testing, tracking and measuring results. Useful downloadable exercise materials are provided. The course format is flexible, whereas viewers can choose to watch the course all at once, or pick a topic and watch only what they need at that point in time.

So for commercial printers and companies looking to pair creative direct mail concepts with results-driving strategy, visit lynda.com and search for Direct Mail Strategy to view sample movies from Trish’s course!

Increase the Value of Your Email Marketing Efforts

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Would you like to give your customers the marketing messages they want, the way they want them? Of course you would. That’s why you need to make the most of your email marketing. With up to 77% of customers preferring to get their marketing messages via email, it’s time to make sure you are getting the most out of this valuable resource.

Why Email Marketing Matters

Email marketing offers a lot of advantages. Email is:

  • Customizable – you can customize everything from your email content to what triggers an email to be sent. It’s a versatile medium, so use that to your advantage.
  • Affordable – setting up an email campaign is cost effective. Crafting a good email takes time, but emails are still relatively quick to put together compared to other marketing materials.
  • Relationship focused – email brings you into direct relationships with your customers, encouraging them to take action on your messages.
  • Measurable – email metrics tell you everything from open rates to click through rates and unsubscribe rates. All this tells you what you are doing well and where you could do better.

How To Make The Most Of Email

Email is a great ally for your business, but how do you make the most of it? Your aim is to send timely relevant emails that will be opened and acted upon. Start by:

  • Keeping it personal – you’re not sending email to “your list”, you’re sending it to the individual customer who is going to read it. Keep them in mind and address them directly.
  • Keeping it snappy – customers get a lot of marketing messages. Make yours stand out with an attention-grabbing headline and content that lets your brand’s personality shine through.
  • Keeping it customer focused – make the time spent reading worth their while. Instead of opening with why they need to buy your product or service, offer information that will be useful to them. Inform and entertain first, sell second.
  • Keeping it actionable – email is a great medium for encouraging action. Make it clear what the next step is, whether that’s getting in touch, placing an order, or looking out for the next eye-catching missive.

Email is a marketing mainstay that offers a welcome boost to your business. Give plenty of love to your email list and give them tantalizing content that will establish your business as worth paying attention to.

Have you had success with email marketing? I’d love to hear. Share your tips and best practices below!

Solving a Problem with 3D Printing: Part 2

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Last Friday, I posted about my experiment with Hudson Printing to solve a real-life problem using 3D printing.  The problem is that my mother’s beloved Elna sewing machine had a worn gear, rendering it useless. For years, my mother has bemoaned its loss. Now perhaps for the first time, there is a solution — thanks to 3D printing.

3D printing offers the promise of being able to print parts like you print a piece of direct mail. Just slower. . . on a different substrate . . . and in three dimensions. Is this a service printers can realistically offer? We decided to find out.

Last I posted, the next step was sending the part to Hudson Printing and awaiting questions from the designer. It turns out, that was not the next step. The next step was removing the gear from the sewing machine, which turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. This was not an at-home job, so in order for the part to be created, the machine had to be taken to the sewing machine repair shop to be removed first.

Then the questions started coming.

  1. What if there is more wrong with the sewing machine than just the worn gear? What if, after going to the time and expense of having the gear professionally removed, even the most perfect recreation doesn’t solve the sewing machine’s ills?
  2. Will the substrate used to create the part be of sufficient strength to do its job? That may not be known until the part is removed, mailed, designed, printed, mailed back, and professionally reinstalled.
  3. Will the part be within the necessary tolerances to work together with all of the other machinery in the sewing machine? Again, to be determined.

These are the questions we are wrestling with right now.

The fact that discovery has stalled our little experiment reminds me of a comment made by Burke Jones, owner of The UPS Store in Kearny Mesa, CA, which does a high level of consumer business on its Stratysys uprint. The printer stays busy with both consumer and professional (engineer / prototype designer) work, but he called the front counter sales process “a black hole of time” because of all inquiries, unrealistic projects, and hand-holding that comes with 3D printing in a storefront model. It tells me that discovery may end up being as much a challenge, as not more of a challenge, for printers as 3D design.

Has anyone here recreated machine parts on a 3D printer, either as a supplier or a consumer? If so, was it successful? What were the issues, if any?

What Was Happening In Februarys Past?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Sometimes it feels like all the world does is change. But maybe not so much. In the midst of this frozen winter, February seemed a good time to take a look back at what’s been happening on TDN for the past three years.

So let’s take an informal look back at topics, by year.

February 2011 (topics only; content no longer available online)
• Color in printing
• Sales tactics
• Report from DSCOOP
• Battle over paid content
• Sustainable paper procurement
• Marketing pitches
• Digital printing
• Copywriting

February 2012
• Mobile advertising for printers (2x)
• Green printing
• Response rates of PURLs
• A salute to the American stamp
• Personalization
• Marketing Channels
• Creative folding
• QR codes (4x)
• Print for Cause Marketing
• Content marketing
• USPS Barcode

February 2013
• Best practices for selling marketing services
• Saturday delivery
• Insurance
• Social media practices (2x)
• Creative folding
• Personalization
• Personalized recommendations
• Direct Mail stats
• Recruitment
• Over-targeting
• QR codes
• 3D printing (2x)
• Paper vs. electronic media (2x)
• Industry trends
• Instagram
• Sales
• Digital marketing
• Kindle

How does this compare with what we’re talking about today? Since I’m writing this in advance of February 2014, let’s look at last month’s content.

January 2014
• Generating content
• NFC tags
• Proofreading
• Postal increase
• Marketing ideas
• QR codes
• Customer service
• Automated web-to-print
• Content shock
• Kindle
• Cross-media
• Website management
• Print and mobile synergy
• Database errors in personalization
• Online marketing tips
• Green printing and direct mail (2x)

One thing you’ll notice is that we’ve kept at it. We’ve also explored key topics thoroughly — green printing, digital printing, technology, social media, and sales/marketing, for example.

Any thoughts/predictions on what we’ll be talking about in February 2015?

Stop the Personalization Snobbery!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

A funny thing happened to me today. I received a postcard in the mail, and I was unbelievably impressed by the targeting. I couldn’t believe how timely and relevant this mailing was.

We are in the process of moving across town, and part of the logistics of selling this home and moving into a new one may require temporary storage of some of our belongings. Just today, in fact, I had been thinking about PODs as the perfect solution to the challenge.

I opened the mailbox this afternoon, and guess what was staring at me? A postcard from PODs! Perfect! How did they know? What algorithms were they using that allowed them to be so precisely targeted — not just in the recipient base but in the timing? I was intrigued. I looked at the mailing label.

“Dear Resident . . .”

I had to laugh. Yesterdays’ blogger Richard Romano has called this “serendipity marketing.” Others call it “spray and pray.”

While we like to be personalization snobs, you know what? Sometimes it works. When using programs like the USPS’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program, it’s also dirt cheap.  It would only take rental of two or three PODs in the entire township to cover the postage and printing of this mailing. Anything else is a bonus.

While we promote personalized, relevance-based print marketing, it’s important to remember that undifferentiated direct mail works, too. There is a reason direct mail has been the bedrock of direct marketing for decades . . . even before personalized printing came to town.

 

AR: Showered With Praise, or The Doors of Perception…

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Anomaly-smLast week, Margie Dana’s Print Tip discussed Augmented Reality (AR), and how Coastal Industries used AR in its Buyer’s Guide—essentially a shower door catalog. Augmented Reality, for those not in the know, is a technology that aims to, among other things, make print interactive, or bridge the gap between print and electronic media. An AR app like Layar, you scan a printed page with your smartphone and interactive content pops up on the screen. A few months ago, I was sent a graphic novel called Anomaly which also included AR content to “bring the pages alive.” However, accessing the AR content was not exactly seamless; you had to go online to get a list of which pages had AR content, download a special app, and then fiddle with getting the lighting and the angle right to make the AR work. It was really a fair amount of effort for minimal payoff. And if something is written, illustrated, and/or printed well enough, the pages can come alive without any extra help.

The online version of Coast Industries’ catalog also features AR, and you can ostensibly scan the computer screen with your smartphone—let’s think about that for a minute…—but perhaps because of the lighting or glare from the screen, I’ve been unable to get it to work.

Now, complaining about how flakily a fairly new technology like AR works is probably a bit premature. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that this stuff works at all. Perhaps we’ve become so accustomed to—or spoiled by—new technology that we often fail to appreciate how far we’ve come in what is really only a short period of time. I mean, if you took the latest iPhone model back in time to even as recently as, say, 1990, and showed it to the people living then, they’d probably look at you as if you had just beamed down from the U.S.S. Enterprise. (À la the famous and I believe accurate quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”) So I’m not going to heap too much shame on flaky AR apps!

That all said, when I think about the notion of “making print interactive,” there is one question I keep coming back to, which is: to what extent does print need to be interactive? And is this not somehow an apology for the fact that print is not electronic media? I find that a large part of the beauty of print that it’s not interactive, that it’s simple, at least from the user’s standpoint. You don’t need tech support to use print, you don’t have to fight with devices, you don’t need to search out a WiFi connection, batteries don’t run down, and you don’t get error messages. In other words, you never see this:

Error Message

Now, I like the idea of AR, and things like the shower door catalog and some other applications are very cool, but for my money, I think print is already as interactive as I want it to be.

One AR-ish application I find myself using a lot, especially when traveling, is incorporated into the location app Yelp!. It’s called Monocle, and when you point your mobile phone in a given direction, on the screen will pop up a list of the businesses nearby in that direction. It works very well, and it’s functional. Sure, you could add AR tags to a printed travel brochure or map, but it seems like that would be redundant.

Monocle

Each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses, and while there is some level of “multifunctionality,” we should be careful to not try to make one too much like the other. Magazine and newspaper apps for tablets that mimic the “look and feel” of print are rarely successful, and printed materials that try to ape the “look and feel” of interactive media are also rarely effective.

One way I like to think about it is that, today, there are not a lot of reasons to print out a Web page, but every once in a while it can be useful. Likewise, I rarely need anything I have in print to be electronic or interactive, but once in a while it can be useful.

So we should use each medium for its own inherent strengths. Unless you need to be shown the door.

Solving a Problem with 3D Printing: Part 1

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Earlier this week, my mother was expressing frustration — again — that she cannot use her much beloved Elna sewing machine. She’s tried others, but even the most expensive professional machines don’t cut it for her. She loves her Elna, and nothing else will do. The problem is that it has a small plastic gear that has worn out from so many years of use, and that part is no longer made. Without the part, the machine is useless.

For the first time in many years, I was able to suggest a solution. I contacted Paul Gardner, director of innovation at Hudson Printing (Salt Lake City), which purchased a 3D printer, the CubexDuo, last summer. The Duo is a two-color machine that offers a resolution of 125 microns and a build area of 10×10”.

The challenge was that the part was worn. I can understand the ability of a 3D part designer to recreate something exactly, but what if what happens when the part is worn down? How does the designer know how much to build it back up? How does he or she understand the tolerances and put back what is no longer there?

If printers are going to offer 3D printing services, offering consumer part design, including replacement parts, is one of the directions they can take. Some of the parts may come pre-designed, but many will not. Part of selling into this market will be the ability to problem-solve through design. So how does the process work?

Gardner’s staff has been experimenting with the Duo, printing out open source designs and gradually building up its own design expertise. Gardner thought the challenge sounded like fun and offered to design and build the part. I thought this was a great opportunity to follow the process and see what the process of building consumer parts really looks like and how it might fit into a commercial printer’s service mix.

The part will shipped off to await the second step — follow-up questions from the 3D part designer.

Stay tuned!

The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is a bit like making a cake. For the recipe to be a success, you need to add all of the right ingredients.

In order to help you do so, let’s take a look at some quick dos and don’ts for executing multi-channel campaigns that will keep your clients and their customers happy.

Learn how you can execute a successful multi-channel marketing campaign by downloading, “The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/DoDontMMC! Do you have any additional tips for executing successful multi-channel marketing campaigns? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Can Social Media and Direct Mail Merge Seamlessly?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

“Social media isn’t a fad, and I think we can all accept that,” said moderator Barbara Pellow, Group Director of InfoTrends, in January’s webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America.

This we know: social media isn’t a new trend. It has an established yet evolving role within the marketing sector. So the question becomes, how does the print industry integrate social media into traditional marketing pieces, like direct mail, to offer optimal customer outreach?

Renée Hall, VP of Business Development at Dukky, and John Ortiz, Director of Operations and Sales at Your Preferred Printer, give an overview and case-study examples of successful, seamless integrations. The speakers touch on strategies and software tools for merging social media with direct mail, which ultimately bolster a client’s network and increase bottom line sales.

Let’s consider the facts. When 1000+ enterprises were surveyed in 2013, social networks were cited as the number one area in which media usage will increase. In addition, 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to a digital channel in order to reach broader audiences and boost response rates.

Now, how are these social networks leveraged?

In order to answer this question, printers must first start by defining their business altogether. Hall finds that most printers have either transitioned to become full marketing agencies with in-house printing capabilities, or they now characterize themselves as a ‘printer+’. As a printer+, the business presents itself as a traditional printer, but integrates online, digital components to complement mail pieces. “Embrace new technology, keep and expand your services, provide tools for measurement and analytics, and leverage what already exists” are just some of Hall’s suggestions for success.

After updating the business approach, printers must next consider the new role of direct mail. It’s no longer a one-way, exposure-oriented form of communication; rather, it’s an entry point to cultivate a conversation and gather information. Take Hall’s Chick-Fil-A example: 5,000 mailers were sent out to gather demographic information of potential customers and to inform them of the branch’s opening. The postcards featured free food promotions that required online validation. Once online, customers were prompted to take a short, information-gathering survey. Once completed, they were able to receive the promotion and “share” the offer within their social network. On opening day, 14,000 customers walked through the branch’s doors. 20% of which accredited the decision to the direct mailer and it’s online component ‘call-to-action’.

Sounds like one successful way to get customers engaged, mobilized and excited. For more examples of seamless integrations and for the complete list of tips, check out the recorded webinar here: