Author Archives: Mike Ertel

About Mike Ertel

Mike Ertel is Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at IWCO Direct, a leading provider of direct marketing solutions. Mike has considerable expertise in print production and mailing services, and his extensive background in sales development has helped IWCO Direct become one of the largest providers of paper-based and digital marketing programs in North America. Mike graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stout and has been with IWCO Direct since January 2002. He can be reached at

4 Frequently Asked Questions on Using Digital Print


Last week we announced the installation of our new Océ ColorStream® 3900 inkjet printer, which increases our capabilities and capacity for creating highly relevant, time-sensitive direct mail campaigns. As Jim Andersen pointed out in his post on the announcement, there are special considerations for creating direct mail that will be printed digitally. Now that our new press is installed and fully operational, it seems like the perfect time to address some questions we often get asked when it comes to deciding whether digital print is right for a specific campaign:

What can digital print do better?

Digital is most effective for very targeted (one-to-few) marketing with variable text and images based on what is known about the recipient. Digital also drives more efficient use of paper with less waste. Less set-up stock is required, and form sizes are no longer restricted by press cylinder sizes. While digital can be used for more conventional campaigns with minimal text variance and static images, these campaigns are typically supported using traditional production workflows (litho printed shells/monochrome personalization).

What quantity ranges are most appropriate for digital equipment?

The selection of digital vs. offset print is based upon the most effective means of production for the product in question, taking into account the variables of cost, cycle time and quality. The decision to use digital or offset is often driven by the number of format versions and quantity per mail drop in conjunction with the monthly and/or quarterly volumes by version. Smaller quantities (from a single piece to approximately 50,000 pieces) run on our Xerox iGen4™ cut-sheet color digital equipment. Larger quantities (into the millions) are supported by our Océ ColorStream 3500 and 3900 continuous color digital equipment.

What paper considerations should we keep in mind?

Karen Weil, our director of procurement, provided an excellent summary on choosing the right paper stocks when printing either conventional or digital. She describes the key factors that play into the decision process. A key consideration is whether the job will run on a toner-based or inkjet digital press. Toner-based print tends to be a bit more forgiving, while inkjet printers work best using paper stocks that are configured specifically for them. This was a main consideration when our team traveled to Piong, Germany, where we tested the new Premium Pigment ink solution from Océ. We didn’t agree to use the new inks until we were satisfied they would support a wider color gamut and more vibrant color reproduction on multiple paper stocks.

What formats work best? Are there limitations?

Format limitations are driven more by finishing operations than by color digital production. By using our color digital equipment for printing/personalization and managing finishing operations as an off-line workflow, we are able to provide more flexibility in formats.

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Mike blogs regularly for Speaking Direct. You can find more of his posts here