For all the audio about digital direct mail is still the largest single direct marketing channel worth about $ 45 billion a year in the United States alone. However it is increasingly clear that print marketing communications work best when used in digital channels with response and conversion rates improved by three and four percentage points when printed instant messaging is combined with email personal web pages PURL and mobile elements.
Many printers will understand this and sagood but we do not do the digital stuff here we're just printi. But there is an opportunity for those printers who think beyond the print job to what their customers try to achieve. Figures from the Canon Insights Report for 201Building Your Future With Prin suggest that more than two thirds of print buyers use crossmedia but only a fifth of commercial printers offer it. The study also found that half of the print buyers would contact their printers for advice on combining print with other media.
There are still a lot of written buyers who do not use crossmedia or do not ask their printers about it and the obvious lack of customer demand is one of the reasons why the printers do not investigate further.
However printers especially those who have done VDP work VDP are particularly well-placed to diversify this way. While the software to launch and run digital marketing campaigns used to be expensive and demanded specialist knowledge the trend has been against everything easier to use and cheaper - even free - tools that effectively deviate a lot from the production process. However the professional print component has not really become easier and no equipment or the ability to use it is available free of charge.
Printers with VDP experience will have overcome one of the biggest obstacles on the road to full cross media which is the ability to understand and work with data and databases. The same principles are used to produce multi-channel communication so even though there will be new software to buy and learn the underlying concepts will already be familiar.
The next step is to join the various channel actions together for an integrated campaign. This requires understanding of marketing technology and being able to speak customer language crossmed can mean different things for different people and many marketers will become more familiar with terms such as multi or omni channel marketing. Learning the marketing direction may require formal education or at least one willingness to perform some independent research but the reward for a print service provider is to move from being a supplier to a project partner a long-term relationship that offers significantly better margins.
Marketers are very keen to join in their efforts on different channels. According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing 2011 this was a priority of 85 percent while just over one-third wanted personal multi-channel communication and more than 70 percent were looking for measurement results. Here comes the cross section of crossmedia Variable printing can connect readers to the digital world in a number of ways via smartphones and other mobile devices as well as from desktops or laptops All digital interactions can be captured and the results are sorted and analyzed to further develop and refine the subsequent campaigns which leads to a good circle for enhancing the media.
Links between print and content online can be provided by including QR-codes quick answers that can be scanned on mobile devices to open a link to a website. These are usually used to provide additional information or access to a particular store or promotion and as they are scanned using mobile devices it should lead to a mobile-friendly site. Ideally the QR code will lead the recipient to a personal landing page PURL containing personal information or a pre-filled registration form. Abbreviated PURLs can be generated to simplify the link for recipients who type URLs manually from printed information.
Recent improvements to print-based digital interactivity include enhanced real-life applications that provide access to additional content such as 3D graphics or video when a printed icon is scanned on a mobile device. There are a number of apps for this that require little or no programming capability to implement but there is no clear standard so careful consideration must be given to the target audience first.
An option for interactivity still in its infant is Near Field Communication NFC where a radio transmitter disc size of a small coin is mounted or embedded in the trunk