1:1 Printing: It’s Getting More Complicated

What does it take to make 1:1 (personalized) printing successful these days? A lot more than it used to. It’s not that straightforward 1:1 mailings don’t work. When handled correctly, they do. But if printers are going to continue to expand their existing markets, 1:1 printing needs to move beyond single-channel programs. Over the past couple of weeks, the importance of true multi-channel marketing to the growth of personalized printing has been driven home to me in personal conversations, case studies, and discussions I’ve come across in blogs, online discussion groups, and e-newsletters.

Let’s look at an example of one of these. It is a best-in-class case study discussed in Peter Wann’s February 2010 “Measurable Marketing” e-newsletter. It is a multi-channel campaign sent by a software manufacturer to 25,000 targeted recipients designed to get them to upgrade their business software. The program was sent in five waves, including three e-mails and two personalized postcards with different test offers. The company versioned the postcards, e-mails, and personalized URL Web page content with relevant business problems and solutions based on industry segment. Branding (graphics and marketing text) was tightly integrated across e-mail, print, and Web.

The company’s goal was to get recipients to log into a personalized URL and identify the pain points in their businesses. Based on their answers, the subsequent pages were personalized on the fly with information about the most relevant software products for each respondent’s problem and industry. These “value statements” were delivered in follow-up e-mail, as well.

To get people to respond, the company used time-sensitive discounts and a drawing for an iPod. It coordinated the offers across direct mail and e-mail. Tracking was added to relevant links to allow the company to monitor respondent activity. If people did not respond to the initial contacts, the software manufacturer sent them a follow-up direct mail and e-mail with increased discounts to move them to action. All information from the campaign, including clicks and survey responses, was passed on to the sales team so they could start the upsell conversation in a relevant way. The team was also empowered with additional discounts to be used to close deals, if necessary.

The result was the highest yielding campaign for any of the software company’s direct marketing campaigns. Twenty-two percent of customers responded and are now actively involved in the sales and upgrade process.

The point I want to bring out here is how far beyond the usual data-driven campaign this was. Look at all of the different components and internal dynamics.

  • It started with demographic versioning.
  • On top of this was print and e-mail personalization.
  • The print versions were broken down into test offers.
  • Each personalized URL’s mini-site content was personalized on the fly based on survey responses.
  • The branding of all of the e-mail, print, and Web content were all tightly integrated.
  • Key pages and links were tracked.
  • The campaign was set up to automatically trigger follow-ups, including personalized offers, based on recipient status (responder, nonresponder, order placed).

With segmentation, testing, versioning, and personalization for print, e-mail, and the Web, combined with detailed tracking, measurement, and personalized follow-up, it’s no wonder that this was a highly successful, profitable campaign.

This is just one example of this level of complexity, but we are seeing it more and more. I think of last month’s Creative Connection column, “Keys to Success in Social Media Marketing,” for which I interviewed Kate Dunn of DIG Creative about the company’s success using social media to help colleges and universities in their fund-raising efforts. The campaign used Facebook to locate alumni and then deploy a variety of multi-channel marketing strategies to get them engaged with the institution. This included encouraging them to “friend” their alumni university and participate in Facebook networking parties. Although Facebook was not used for direct solicitations, it reinforced alumni relationships with the institution, increasing the likelihood and amount that they give—and they worked.

I’m also seeing more and more software solutions vendors adding social media, QR codes, and other new media to their Web-to-print and multi-channel marketing software. interlinkONE and L2’s Fuse, for example, now offer QR codes as part of the overall multi-channel marketing campaign. AmazingPrint is enabling marketers to upload logos, graphics, and other marketing components to social media sites like Facebook as part of its solution.

Quantifying Multi-Channel
In 2008, InfoTrends conducted a survey called “Multi-Channel Communications Measurement & Benchmarking.” When asked to provide the average response rate of campaigns that use varying combinations of media, marketers indicated that campaigns utilizing multiple channels are far more effective than print campaigns alone. For example, they said that marketing campaigns that include print, e-mail, and Web landing pages provide an improvement of 35 percent in response rate over print-only campaigns. Campaigns combining print, e-mail, Web landing pages, and mobile marketing experience a 34 percent lift.

We live in a complex media world. Motivating consumers to certain behaviors isn’t going to happen in a single channel environment. It takes multiple channels, constant reinforcement, and the ability to find and touch them where they are. Regardless of what channels are used, these efforts mean including print, but taking 1:1 far beyond it, too.

Heidi Tolliver-Nigro is an industry writer, an analyst specializing in digital workflow and technologies. Her e-mail address is htollvr@aol.com.