By Melissa Donovan
Digital print drives growth for savvy marketers and print providers. By leveraging the latest in software and data management, effective print that integrates multiple channels, variable data technologies, and analytics provide added value and improved response rates.
The health and evolution of direct mail in particular is affected by the development and adoption of cross-media software platforms. Today’s solutions enable variable data output to a variety of channels, from print to the Web, social media, text messaging, and beyond. Organizations of all kinds are experiencing the benefits of cross-media marketing (CMM). And as many are learning, the combination of print and Web brings a lot to the table.
Based in Manchester, CT, Fusion Cross-Media (FCM) integrates print, Web, mobile, and social media to provide its client base with successful CMM campaigns. The marketing service provider (MSP) is conditioned to offer consultation on marketing plans, design creative across multiple platforms, and configure complex systems that manage and track response.
“Program design is a large component with print management, fulfillment, campaign management, execution, and analysis. The fruits of our experience result in engagement, lead generation, client retention, and brand awareness programs that utilize inbound marketing strategies,” explains Zachary Schwartz, creative executive officer, FCM.
With clients predominately on the East Coast, and some dispersed nationally, their backgrounds vary, from non-profit organizations; building and window manufacturers; cable, internet, and telecommunications providers; to small healthcare providers; architectural firms; consultants; and restaurants and hospitality.
Each customer’s needs are different, which means FCM must be positioned to address all of them. Its goal is to “utilize our innovation and experience to solve their challenges,” says Schwartz. With so many avenues to market from, many customers require an intuitive management system. FCM offers marketing portals designed to assist clients with online collateral management and the execution of marketing campaigns, which reside on L2 Inc.’s Fuse platform.
One example of a campaign built in L2’s Fuse is the 5Star Guest Experience Management (GEM) program for FCM’s franchise restaurant group client. It uses quick response (QR) codes located on printed collateral on restaurant tables to engage with dinner guests and learn about their dining experience. Because of Fuse’s flexibility, the solution is specifically tailored to this customer.
“I’ve always found that the flexibility of L2’s framework lends well to my creativity. The platform is living, breathing, and flexible—not a canned solution with a limited set of features,” adds Schwartz.
For 5Star GEM, this means that many of its features are used to gather useful data for the client, which is leveraged to improve the overall customer experience. At the restaurant, actionable data is sent to management’s mobile devices instantly, allowing them to immediately address any issues. Advanced segmentation allows for the correct message to be delivered to a guest based on previous responses. After the contact information is captured, loyalty offers are emailed to guests to encourage them to return to the restaurant. It is also suggested they share the offers via social media.
Another benefit is reporting capabilities that are integrated right into the program. Queries that include specific points of interaction and data are sent regularly to management and operation divisions in email form. A permission-based user interface reviews high-level, company-wide metrics down to detailed location reports.
The printed components of the 5Star GEM program serve as a launching point for the Web-based marketing collateral, which is then used to capture important customer data. “Printed communications are powerful and when used in combination with other channels the effectiveness is multiplied,” shares Schwartz. “Offline brick-and-mortar businesses benefit from quick print to mobile interactions or the use of pURLs to create a more personal experience. We are always seeking ways to keep print viable and it will be for years to come,” he adds.
FCM’s 5Star GEM program is one successful example of a CMM campaign where print collateral was used at the retail level out of home. Direct mail marketing similarly benefits from working with software solutions constructed to manage and control large amounts of variable data. Part of its survival is due to adaption.
According to Karen L. DeWolfe, VP, sales, interlinkONE, Inc., direct mail could have lost its effectiveness with the emergence of online. However, it avoided becoming obsolete. “Cross-media campaigns that utilize traditional print as well as new electronic methods ensure that direct mail remains a viable method of communication. Direct mail has gone from a declining media to an important part of the marketing mix,” she continues.
Today’s software is equipped to handle a number of key touch points throughout the process for both print and Web-based collateral. “The success of direct mail is greatly enhanced by software that enables the creation of sophisticated, personalized collateral. An integrated marketing strategy is optimal for a direct mail campaign and can significantly increase return on marketing investment,” explains Judy Berlin, VP of marketing, XMPie, a Xerox Company.
Many organizations realize the important relationship between direct mail and CMM. Industries running these integrated campaigns include finance, insurance, publishing, education, travel, banking, healthcare, and retail. These players see mail as a reward, not an inconvenience, shares Wrich Printz, CEO, L2.
Jerry Modugno, solutions product manager, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., says that he sees cross-media campaigns prevalent among a range of organizations such as universities, manufacturers, insurance agencies, banks, retail, real estate, hotels, and travel and leisure companies. He adds that they are suited for “basically any organization that considers lead generation, lead nurturing, brand building, and customer retention to be important.”
Understanding the motivations of your target market creates a successful CMM experience. Printz says personalized mail “closes the loop by walking the last mile as a gift certificate, card, or personal catalog fulfilled with information collected via other media. It becomes the capstone to a great campaign.”
“If used correctly, a marketer can utilize data to identify a customer’s purchases over time and offer up a targeted mail piece that touches on items that a customer might want a discount on or a new item that would complement past purchases. That same marketer can use cross-media software to add URLs to the mailer for a specialized site that includes viewing offers,” explains Kurt Konow, production print marketing strategist, Ricoh.
Avi Greenfield, portfolio innovation manager, Hewlett-Packard Exstream, agrees, citing the addition of two-dimensional barcodes, pURLs, and augmented reality as examples of technologies that make direct mail more trackable than ever, helping to drive traffic and conversions in digital channels.
Modugno adds that in an age where personalization is king, the right direct mail piece will always be an important part—if not the most important part—of the marketing mix. Successful marketing promotes the right message to the right person, at the right time, using the right media. “Consumers in this day and age are very sophisticated—using search engines, blogs, and social networking sites daily to find the exact information needed. These customers expect their direct mail to be the same,” he explains. “However, personalization is not enough. Communication must be relevant and sent in the consumer’s preferred media.”
Another reason CMM is experiencing such a boom is in fact the ability of today’s software solutions to be mobile friendly, according to Berlin. “This makes campaigns directly accessible to the fast growing population of users of mobile devices. Such campaigns have a print or email outbound communication and a personalized landing Web site as a response mechanism,” she continues.
Mobility provides a new set of challenges, specifically creating a marketing campaign that flows well across any number of devices. “A critical success factor needed to make consistent multichannel/cross-channel output a reality is the ability to create flexible content that is automatically converted on demand to match the requirements of the delivery channel, because what looks great on a direct mail piece also needs to look great on a smartphone screen,” adds Jamie Harris, VP of diversified services, GMC Software Technology, North America.
All the Benefits Fit to Print
Print presents added opportunity to the CMM mix. It provides a pleasant juxtaposition to a digitally focused marketplace. Advancements in print engines allow for additions to a printed piece that marry print with the Web.
“Personalized QR codes, augmented reality, and near field communication can all expand print capabilities and further enable the paradigm shift in the field of marketing today in which the style of communications has shifted to conversations, two way dialogues, and relationships rather than one way lectures and information output,” shares Berlin.
“New print technology allows for a faster time to market with shorter, targeted print runs. Using variable data to contribute to targeted messages delivers personal content, which has been proven to yield high results. The cost to add print to a cross-media campaign is significantly less than what a traditional print campaign used to be,” adds DeWolfe.
Print is an important part of the equation, as it serves as a launching off point for a campaign. Through QR codes and other personalized data implemented on a piece of paper, consumers visit a Web site, Facebook page, or Twitter page. L2’s Printz says that print is the actual physical representation of the offer or the reminder of the behavior.
According to Harris, print is a preferred initial channel for many types of communication. “While people resent what they regard as spam email, they look forward to receiving the weekly printed sales flyer from their favorite store and seasonal catalog from retailers. Similarly, many consumers still prefer to receive transactional materials like statements and invoices in hard copy through the mail,” he explains.
Dave Minnick, director of Web to print solutions, EFI, points out that printed mail carries a higher perceived value or importance as a marketing medium—one of its primary and enduring benefits. “The best example of this is the fact that you cannot leave direct mail in your mailbox or filter from the mailbox. You have to touch it and in doing so, you are reading it. You will retain information from the piece and you may use it at another time to make a buying decision.”
Konica Minolta’s Modugno states that more than ever, print is still the best way to generate leads. “We always advise our customers to start with print in order to protect their online reputation. Starting with an email list generally sends a negative message to prospects and can be perceived as spam even if a prospect opted in to the list.” He explains that, with print, in order to opt in to a distribution list, a customer must first visit the URL provided on the direct mail piece and is more likely to remember signing up to receive additional information digitally because the process requires deliberate action on the part of the customer. The second vital piece of any campaign is to ask customers about their preference for communications, whether it is via email, newsletters, direct mail printed pieces, or text.
With the recent increase in postal rates and regulations the direct mail channel has changed. “In order to realize the best postal rates and not have overall marketing campaign costs skyrocket, mailers have had to meet stricter regulations in how mail is dealt with—from the original generation of the piece all the way to the delivery. New trackers need to be implemented to deal with returned and mislabeled mail,” explains Ricoh’s Konow.
CMM solutions attract marketers and MSPs. They include tracking and other important data handling tools to ensure that mail is organized, being used to its greatest potential, and comply with United States Postal Service regulations.
“Data can easily become a hindrance when there aren’t appropriate processes and infrastructures in place to control it. But that is where automated workflow, advanced reporting, data analytics, and digitized in-bound mail solutions often come into play,” continues Konow.
Careful attention must be paid to all campaigns leaving the print shop, rate increases and stricter regulations mean it isn’t worth wasting money and time to create a CMM campaign that won’t go anywhere. Konow says that print and marketing service providers must evaluate all campaigns to ensure what they are saying and whom they are being sent to are indeed worthwhile.
With these increases in price and stricter rules, relying on the cleanest data possible becomes important. “Using systems to correct files and certify them for mailing will lower the price as well as make sure you are not wasting money. Examples of waste would be delivering multiples of the same piece to the same address, or even the same person,” shares Minnick.
XMPie’s Berlin argues that changes in postal rates and regulations are an additional reason for marketers and MSPs to adapt CMM. “Even without the recent increase in postal rates and regulations, the direct mail industry has been steadily moving towards highly targeted and personalized multi-channel campaigns instead of old school non-personalized communications, which generate poor quality leads,” she adds.
Everyone Can See
CMM is effective. Many marketers and MSPs implement cross-media campaigns to ensure all recipients read, see, or experience a marketing message.
Print continues to play an important role in the equation, often serving as the piece that gives consumers the push to engage with a business or organization. At the same time, email marketing, SMS, social media, and landing pages serve as a collector of information so recipients can interact with companies when and how they want to. Businesses of all types and sizes should embrace an integrated approach to marketing to maximize return on investment.
“Cross media gives marketers a better shot at reaching their target audience,” concludes EFI’s Minnick. “If part of the marketer’s target doesn’t pay attention to email marketing, or doesn’t engage much with online media—but always views mail—as part of the cross-media campaign is good insurance policy on getting the marketing message into people’s hands,” says Minnick.
In addition to direct mail, CMM extends to retail, such as the example offered by FCM. Consumers are increasingly comfortable searching for a company’s Web site via mobile devices. By offering incentives, such as loyalty programs, restaurant-goers and shoppers are invited to share contact information, preferences, and more—all on the go. This information is later leveraged by savvy marketers to create targeted, relevant campaigns. dps
May2014, DPS Magazine