Archive for the ‘Whitepapers’ Category

Tapping into the New Cross Media

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

It’s a loud, busy world out there. With so much information available, getting your voice heard is a challenge for any company. For mailing, print, and fulfillment providers, cross media marketing is really vital right now.

A well thought out cross media campaign is one of the best ways to communicate any message clearly, consistently, and in a way that’s relevant to the hearer. Keeping up with cross media marketing trends is an important component of your ongoing success – and that of your clients.

Are you having trouble connecting with customers?

Learn how you can use cross media marketing to better communicate with customers by downloading “Tapping into the New Cross Media,” FREE for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at; your customers will appreciate your dedication! Do you have any comments or opinions on cross media marketing or customer communication? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

The Big Potential of Big Data: A Field Guide for CMOs

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

If you haven’t downloaded a copy of “The Big Potential of Big Data: A Field Guide for CMOs,” it’s worth your time.

Put out by Rocket Fuel and Forbes, it’s a free 22-page report based on a survey of 211 senior marketers designed to gauge their perceptions about the success of their marketing initiatives, as well as their use of and the benefits of big data.  Granted these were bigger companies than most of those in this industry (revenues of at least $500 million and marketing budgets of $10 million or more), but it supports the trend line and will give you great talking points with your customers.

(Download the report here.)

Key data points from the survey:

  • Of the organizations that used big data at least 50% of the time, 60% said that they had exceeded their goals. By contrast, of the companies that used big data less than 50% of the time, just 33% felt they had.
  • More than nine in 10 companies (92%) who had “always” or “frequently” made sufficient use of data said that they had met or exceeded their goals, while just 5% who said that they were making sufficient use of data said that they were actually falling short.
  • Eight in 10 (79%) marketers and advertisers who use big data more than 50% of the time felt they were able to pick out the right audience in all or almost all of their media. This compares with just 35% of those who used it less than 50% of the time.
  • Of those who use big data to drive more than half their marketing strategies, 75% said that they were able to monetize their audience.
  • Likewise, 75% believe their company is making the right media buys, compared with just 50% of those who use big data in less than half of their programs.

There is lots more, of course, but what’s interesting is the focus not just on reaching customers and increasing revenue, but undersatnding customer behavior, including the channels most effective at reaching them.

Also interesting about this report is how it is interwoven with personal interviews and mini case studies that flesh out these issues and put the data into a real-world context.

Check it out.


Research: Not All Designer Codes Created Equal

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

According to research released by the AIDC Lab of Ohio University (part of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology), not all designer codes are created equal. While QR Codes have error correction, allowing up to 30% of these codes to be degraded or altered while rendering the codes still readable, it matters where this degradation takes place.

You can remove, alter, or degrade certain portions of the code while retaining readability but not others.

Although the full research study has yet to be released, the AIDC Lab has released a white paper outlining the main issues and the results.  The goal of the paper — to answer the question: “What sort of design modifications can be made while still ensuring the maximum number of people will be able to scan the symbol?”

In general, there are three ways to alter QR Codes to incorporate a branded symbol or other design:

  • Change the color
  • Insert a graphic design inside the physical design of the code
  • Geometrically distort the cells used to create the code

“While all of these work, it is important that the designer understand how the QR Code works so that they do not inadvertently damage key components or push those components beyond their ability to adjust,” write the authors of the paper.

For the study, more than 200 codes were scanned. In total, 166 responses were usable. Depending on the types of distortions used, researchers found that scanning would product different results. Ignoring the benchmark symbol, for example, resulted in read rates ranging from 9.6% to 88.6% — a huge range.

The implication of this is that, at best, 11% of the symbol’s target audience will not be able to read the bar code. And for almost half of the symbols 50% or more of the scanning public will not be able to decode the designer QR Code.

This a fascinating study that anyone involved in 2d barcode design, branding, and marketing campaign develop read. Before your designers start messing with the codes, thinking they can add branding as long as they degrade 30% of the code or less, make sure they know the facts.  You can download a copy here.

On a completely unrelated note, I grew up in Athens, Ohio, where Ohio University is located, my father taught, and I spent much time on campus. This is the first time I’ve heard the university mentioned in connection with this industry, so this was really fun research to run across. Go Athens Bulldogs!

Avoid These Mobile Marketing Danger Zones

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

There are many danger zones you need to dodge as you send out your mobile marketing messages. There are so many different moving parts with marketing to an “on the go” audience. And it’s easy to leave out a key element or forget something that can make or break your mobile marketing efforts. Here are five danger zones you need to avoid as you work your mobile marketing plan:

1. Forgetting a call to action

Think this is basic Marketing 101 stuff? Well, it sort of is. But it’s easy to get dazzled by the brilliant message you cooked up and then not have a clear call to action at the end.  Every single marketing message should be reviewed to ensure that the call to action is crystal clear. Is the end user supposed to check in? Post a photo? Answer a poll? Tell the audience what to do, and make it obvious. Because if you don’t, your marketing message was just a wasted effort.

2. Forgetting the legal aspects of mobile marketing

Marketing isn’t all fun, outside of the box thinking. You also have to stay within legal regulations and industry guidelines. Someone on the marketing team should know what you can and cannot get away with. And, just because you can get away with something, doesn’t mean you should do it. So make sure that your message is not misleading or illegal and that your delivery is completely above board. You don’t want to deal with the clean-up from a messy mobile marketing campaign.

3.  Not testing your mobile site or message

Once you have a mobile site in place, you need to test it to ensure that it embodies all that is user-friendly for your mobile device audience. No excuses here…for site testing, you can use for free. It even whips up a report for you that will tell you how well your mobile site works on a mobile device. And don’t forget the marketing messages themselves. Test them out – within your business or a small portion of your demographic. Something you think will be a huge hit may go over like a lead balloon. Testing helps take out some of the guesswork with your mobile marketing.

4. Forgetting the delivery method

You always have to keep in mind that your audience is not on desktops or laptops. They are using a smaller screen and it’s not easy to maneuver around. Don’t require a kazillion click-thru actions or force them to scroll back and forth. They also don’t have a printer (so don’t send a message that requires them to print out a coupon!). Some end users may be limited on the amount of information they can receive, so keep the information and images within limits that don’t overload their bandwidth. Of course, as with any marketing message, keep it relevant, and in this case that relevancy should be to those who are on the go.

5. Not using the capabilities your audience does have at its fingertips

Think of all the functions a smartphone or tablet has. Should your call to action include a request to call? To download an app? What about taking advantage of its camera or video-taking capabilities?

Download the 9 Mobile Marketing Must-Haves


Health Insurance – Change Brings Opportunities

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

It’s fair to say that the business model for health insurance is in the process of being completely redefined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA). Health insurers can expect to spend the bulk of 2013 getting ready for the new post-ACA marketplace. How far reaching are these changes? Well, they impact critical factors like:

  • Who insurers can sell to: individuals in addition to groups.
  • Who insurers must sell to: no ability to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  • Where they sell their products: new Health Insurance Exchanges (HIE) in addition to the usual channels plus new retail branches.
  • How they can sell their products: products offered through exchanges must conform to one of 5 standardized options.
  • How they can price their products: they must devote 80% (in some cases 85%) of premiums to actual customer medical expenses leaving only 15% to 20% for all administration and overhead.

In addition to the changes that are mandated by the plan, there are many changes that just naturally flow from adapting to a consumer-driven market. In 2011 approximately 50 million people – or about 16% of the US population – had no health insurance coverage or eligibility for government sponsored health programs. In 2014 approximately 60% of that population is expected to purchase private health insurance coverage – that’s about 30 million new customers. In addition, another 17 million customers may come on the books as states expand Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Americans since most states contract Medicaid coverage to private insurers.

Insurers are trying to turn their marketing and sales organizations into retail operations to tap the consumer market. Like retailers, they are trying to leverage data on their customer base to drive effective marketing and communications programs. Since, other than marketing Medicare supplement programs, most insurers have had little or no consumer marketing experience they need help in this area. Compounding the problem, according to PWC, this new insurance market is made up of consumers who are likely to be less educated and many will need material in a language other than English.

Since many of these new insurance consumers have never enrolled in a health plan before, they are likely to shop for health insurance they way that they would shop for any other major purchase like a home appliance or a car – by seeking out a familiar brand. To become top of mind before these people enter the market, insurers are investing in a wide array of advertising: TV, radio, web, print and billboards to build awareness. Direct mail, email and mobile marketing will only increase as new products become available and market data is refined.

But the retail transformation goes beyond branding, insurers are opening branches where consumers can learn about insurance options and buy on the spot. In May, Horizon BCBS announced that they would be opening a new retail center in New Jersey and Blue Shield of California recently opened a “Blue Shield Store” inside of Lucky’s Supermarket in San Francisco. These are two of several retail store-fronts in 5 or 6 states with more to come in 2013.

These retail operations will naturally need to be staffed with knowledgeable people and supported with kiosks and other technology but, they will also need printed collateral, the ability to order and manage collateral across locations and the kind of seasonal and tailored signage seen in the best branch banks and retail stores.

I’ve skimmed the issues affecting health insurers and haven’t even touched on the impact to health care providers – but I think you can see that this is a market in transition. And where there is transition, there is opportunity. It may be difficult to get the attention of insurance executives with everything on their plate, however, if you do get their attention and have solutions to help them market more effectively and efficiently to consumers while driving down the costs of servicing their insured members – you could be busy for years!


 Elizabeth Gooding is the President of Gooding Communications Group and the Editor of the Insight Forums blog. She covers key issues affecting business communications in highly-regulated industries.




Editors Note: White papers and podcasts on the impact of the ACA on business communications are available on Océ PressGo!:  a business development program for Océ customers.



Why Are We Still Talking About Response Rates?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about response rates, and you know what? I’m starting to wonder why we use them. They are in every case study. Every Webinar. Every presentation slide. Yet they don’t really tell us much of anything.

Response rates simply tell us whether the basic marketing elements of the piece are compelling enough to get people to take an initial first step. The respondent makes a phone call. They scan a QR Code. They log into a personalized URL.

If they do, great! But you can have an 80% response rate and the campaign can be a money-loser. Why? Because simply taking the initial action doesn’t necessarily translate into a purchase. If they make the call, scan the code, or log in but don’t actually make a purchase, sign up for the loyalty card, or take the other desired action, the response rate didn’t do you much good at all. That’s why we need to know conversion rates.

At the same time, you can have a high conversion rate but the campaign still loses money. Why? What is the cost to develop and execute the campaign? How much did it generate? If it costs $2.00 each to send the postcard, but each postcard only generated $1.80 in revenue, you’re going to lose money no matter how high your response rate and conversion rates are. That’s why we look at metrics like dollars per sale and ROI.

Here’s a look at some of the common metrics used in evaluating campaign success today:

  • Response rate
  • Conversation rate
  • Cost per sale
  • Revenue per sale
  • Return on investment
  • Lifetime customer value

There are additional metrics for online campaigns, such as open rate, click-through rate, form fill rate, and more.

Do you know which marketing metrics are most effective? Do you talk to your clients about using the right metrics to evaluate the true success of their campaigns? (For info on a brandable white paper on this topic, click here.) If not, this is a conversation you should start having . . . because knowing the response rate isn’t enough.

Looking for a More Lucrative Revenue Stream?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

A recent InfoTrends study entitled The Evolution of the Cross-Media and Marketing Services Provider reveals 58% of the 280 print service providers surveyed are offering cross-media services. There’s no doubt that the cross-media market is dynamic, growth-oriented, and a major contributor to the future of the printing industry.

The marketing executive is the key decision-maker in cross-media services. These marketers are facing a number of challenges in the transition to cross-channel marketing, from strategy to design and deployment to tracking and measurement. The sheer scope of the cross-channel marketing model, and the new innovations that continue to appear, make it difficult for marketers to keep up.

The opportunity is that marketers are reaching out to their traditional print service provider and agency partners for assistance. During an October 2010 study entitled Capturing the Cross-Media Direct Marketing Opportunity, InfoTrends surveyed more than 500 marketers to find out answers to questions such as: What selection criteria are essential to the marketer? How does that service provider move to the top of the list so they can participate in the more lucrative marketing value chain and the incremental digital print revenue associated with cross-media services?

You can download the full white paper for free here. (Click in the bottom, left corner). Find out the answers to what Marketers are looking for and how YOU can participate in the lucrative cross-media revenue stream!

Cross-Media Services: It Takes Marketing and Business Development Focus

Monday, September 5th, 2011

We all know that marketing is about the strategies and tactics you use to identify and cultivate the market for your products/services. The degree of importance can vary based on the industry, but it’s hard to think of any businesses that can survive without at least thinking about how to grow demand for what they’re selling.

Firms that are successfully delivering cross-media marketing services are investing time and resources to marketing and business development. Savvy executives are pursuing radical new approaches to change up their organizations. They are getting their companies to concentrate on developing new revenue streams from new products and services, while optimizing income from existing lines through innovative marketing and the rapid exploitation of changing customer needs and tastes.

The Facts

InfoTrends just completed a study entitled The Evolution of the Cross-Media and Marketing Services Provider. The study surveyed more than 280 print service providers to understand the current state of cross-media and the evolution taking place in the graphic communications market. The first key message is that service providers as a community understand the critical importance of getting into cross-media services. Of the 285 total respondents, 58% are currently offering some level of cross-media services.

Furthermore, nearly 87% of print-for-pay respondents were either offering services today or had plans to start offering them within the next 24 months.

These print service providers understand that print is still a very relevant medium, but they have also acknowledged that the communications channel has changed dramatically and altered the role of print. In turn, print service providers must transform. Print used to be the only tool in the box, but now it’s just one of many integrated services in the marketing solutions mix. There is clearly a good understanding of the technologies available today to connect print with new media options, so printers can take advantage of all cross-media channels and help customers market smarter with relevant 1:1 content.

Getting There Takes Marketing Focus
Marketing needs to be a core concern in any business. When it comes to running a successful business, marketing is often the cornerstone for driving results. Firms that offer cross-media marketing services were more likely to cite a focus on sales, marketing, and business development when asked to describe their primary area of responsibility. The critical message is that success in cross-media requires leadership with a focus on marketing and new business development.

Want more? Visit to download the InfoTrends white paper The New Value Add Equation!

How to Wow Your Customers with TransPromo

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Putting the Wow in any offer requires understanding and delivering value. If you want to understand the value of TransPromo, you need to look at it from a few different perspectives:

  • What does marketing (your customer) value?
  • What creates value for the organization producing the document?
  • What does the end-recipient of the document (your customer’s customer) value?
  • If you can understand and deliver value for all three of those groups, Wow! What an offer!

TransPromo, which involves leveraging transaction data to deliver relevant, personalized customer communications, provides this opportunity. The capability to add relevant marketing content to transaction documents, such as statements, invoices, and electronic payment notifications, is tremendously valuable to marketing because it allows the marketing budget to be used more efficiently and, in many cases, more effectively. For example, TransPromo can:

  • Replace direct mailings to customers by leveraging campaign content on the transaction document
  • Reinforce and promote campaigns delivered via other channels (see our new ad on MTV! Visit our website for the latest discounts!
  • Generate improved response rates and develop stronger customer relationships by making offers that are relevant to each reader and delivering “point-of-need” content triggered by customer data

Relevant offers have been shown to increase response rates by 300% over those that are simply personalized, according to research conducted by PODi. Similar studies conducted by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) indicated that personalization alone can boost response rates by 44% over static communications, while personalization plus color can take response rates up 135%. When campaigns are personal and relevant (defined as one-to-one content) and produced in color, response rates increased by 500% over static — meaning that relevance provides a bump of 365% over personalization and color alone. Transaction documents provide the customer data that enables relevant campaigns — and relevance delivers stronger response rates.

While TransPromo is usually positioned as a solution for the marketing folks because of its proven ability to increase response rates, decrease campaign costs and shorten campaign cycle times, it has tremendous value for print production operations as well. Print service providers and in-plant printers maximize profits by streamlining document processing to the nth degree (or to the sixth sigma if you prefer.) This means maximizing the “up time” of all equipment and simplifying warehouse operations. TransPromo enables many of these benefits in a black and white environment — and offers even more Wow when you add color. With TransPromo:

  • Inserts can be turned into “onserts.” This avoids batching mail to fit selective inserter limits and can allow mail to be manifested, potentially reducing postal spend and bypassing physical presorting machines
  • Inventory management of physical inserts and setup of inserts on intelligent inserting equipment can be eliminated, increasing up-time for inserters and reducing storage and handling costs
  • The relevant messages will also be delivered online for your e-presentment clients (which is not usually the case with inserts)

Printers are also happy to add another profitable service area to their bag of tricks with the ability to manage and report on campaign messages. While marketing departments have many tools for managing campaigns on other channels, few have extended their technology to support TransPromo. Providing the ability for your customers to leverage their existing campaigns and digital assets on the transaction documents you produce for them has the added value of deepening ties with marketing and making your services more “sticky.”

The final bonus in the TransPromo value chain goes to the end-customer, who receives a document tailored to their requirements with valuable offers based on an understanding of their buying habits. They will also be less likely to receive additional annoying and irrelevant offers from the sender, perhaps slightly diminishing the clutter in their mailbox (or inbox). Well-executed TransPromo initiatives have been proven to improve customer loyalty and reduce customer attrition.

A solution that saves money and generates better response rates while making operations more efficient and keeping customers more satisfied? It sounds like TransPromo is a winning proposition.

Visit OceWowFactor to download the InfoTrends white paper entitled Electronic Use of Transaction Data, a Catalyst for TransPromo Across ALL Chanels.

Snapshot of “Marketing Outlook 2010″

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Barb Pellow posted an interesting article (free access) on WhatTheyThink last week that provides insight into marketing trends related to metrics and measurement. She highlights several case examples of companies that are integrating print into campaigns that include additional, digital channels. This multi-channel convergence is an important topic for our industry and this article helps to put the issues into perspective.

In addition, Barb points us to the Marketing Outlook 2010 from the CMO Council. I reviewed the executive summary (available for FREE) and found a few very useful insights. I then decided to purchase the full report.

Much of the report confirms Barb’s assertion about the importance of metrics and measurement. It also points to some key trends that impact agencies. Finally, the report supports the position that print service providers are, or should be, transforming into marketing services providers. Key points include:

  1. Agencies are struggling to evolve as marketing and traditional media go digital in all areas of campaign execution and audience activation;
  2. There is a power shift from master agency control of accounts to control by a more digitally empowered client wielding new partner and provider connections and resources;
  3. The agency model is also threatened by new service providers such as IT integrators, consultants, and offshore business process outsourcing firms providing marketing data integration, customer analytics, predictive modeling, and performance measurement.

The study indicates that senior marketers expect to recruit more data analytics, strategic planning, interactive design, online advertising, and digital marketing competencies in house as well. There are changes coming in the way that companies conduct and measure multi-channel campaigns. You may find the full study worth the investment of $200 – I certainly did.

Digital Print and the Postal Stream

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Digital print applications and the postal stream are not always the best friends. The wear and tear that automated handling system used by the USPS can turn a eye catching personalized mail piece into scratched and marred piece of junk mail destined for the recycling bin.

A few years ago I attended a conference in which members of the postal service were asked to provide insight into how printers could work around the core causes of machine caused wear and tear. The major take away from the talk was that lack of handling system standardization (E.g the post office in Minneapolis might have different equipment then the post office in Atlanta) it was hard to provide a concise set of best practice for designing print applications around handling systems.

A new white paper from the Digital Printing Council at PIA/GATF aims to provide some insight into what happens when digital print applications are mailed. In Digital Printing and Survivability in the U.S. Postal System researchers at PIA/GATF came up with a basic test to analyze the issue:

The basic methodology for the study was determined: design a postcard, print it on various digital presses (with no coating) on 10pt C1S paper, then mail it from four different points of origin to PIA/GATF headquarters. Additionally, a postcard was also produced via offset lithography for control and comparison purposes. The full white paper details the results of this study.

To find out more about the study or request a copy, visit New DPC White Paper – Digital Printing and Survivability in the U.S. Postal System

Have you done your own research into digital print applications and the postal stream? What tips and ticks do you use in the design and production of mail pieces so they get to the recipient without unsightly blemishes?