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Market Trends

A very personal future for print

Jonny Rowntree explains how you need to get personal to generate new print revenue streams

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(Above & below) “Personalised printing can vary from just an address on the front of printed mail to names on front covers of brochures or covering letters to give the impression of a personal touch,” advises Jonny Rowntree

New Print Revenue Streams

It is fair to say that recent developments in technology and changing social trends have far from rendered printed media obsolete. Quite the contrary. Print has grown up, making new media its own and integrating seamlessly with even the most futuristic leaps in tech.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the retail industry, where the business-to-consumer dialogue is as lively as ever and more interactive than ever before.

Indeed, the first and second quarters of each year present fantastic opportunities for brands to engage with customers and draw their attention to both new products and old favourites.

To do this, a tactic favoured by a great many businesses is to offer customers a personalised version of a service or product. By doing this, customers instantly feel a connection to the brand, if only on the most superficial level and this can tip the balance when it comes to making your business stand apart from the crowd.

Personalising what you have to offer a customer has a two-fold effect. Firstly it grabs the attention. Even basic printed material, when given a personal touch, boosts engagement by bringing the customer further into your brand's world and guiding them to relevant products.

Secondly, focusing a customer's attention on products you are at least fairly sure they will like weighs the odds in your favour when it comes to securing the greatest possible return on investment. Quite simply, it makes print easier and safer as a means of marketing.

Make the most of big events

Going back to the first half of the year, the two standout opportunities for brands dealing with printed material are Valentines Day and Mothers Day. In both cases companies like Moonpig and Funky Pigeon have cornered the personalised greetings card markets, but with more open-ended marketing material any brand can reach out in a similar manner.

For Valentines Day, direct marketing campaigns can feature a customer's name, they can draw attention to products they bought recently or, to demonstrate a more lasting rapport, remind a customer of the kind of products they bought last year. By tracking a customer's interaction with your business you can measure how long it has been since they bought from you and try to entice them back at strategically-chosen times of year like this by offering discounts. Short surveys can then be used to assess how to better engage with them in future.

On Mothers Day it is all about offering a service which is both personal and streamlined. Packaging, labels, and gift cards can all be given a custom touch relatively easily. More general marketing material can again use information about the buyer's habits to remind them of products they liked or suggest possible gifts based on their buying history, bestsellers at the time or other relevant criteria.

Spring and early summer are popular times to launch new products, but also to relaunch the more fundamental aspects of a brand. The old cliché, 'new year, new me,' so favoured by Facebook statuses can just as easily be applied to a brand when large proportions of your customer base are in a mindset that is open to trying out new things. Whether it is a simple logo change or a full rebranding, choosing the right time to launch can make all the difference.

A tidy house

All this, of course, presupposes a firm understanding of your customer base. It is important to keep your customer relation management service fully updated and tidy.

This means making it easy for customers to interact with your brand online and give you the information you need. Using QR codes and/or NFC tags on promotional printed material can help you assess just where and how a given customer is interacting with your ads. A good tactic is to have these leading to a personalised landing page which offers visitors a discount.

Along similar lines, you might want to require users to enter their email address on certain landing pages, subscribing them to your newsletter in exchange for activating a certain promotion. It can sometimes be a tough sell to get customers to part with this information on the go, so making the experience fun through effective use of augmented reality and personalised videos can pay dividends.

Throughout all of this, you'll be wanting to stay on top of how your personalised print campaign is going by making an effective use of Google Analytics. Installing tracking on your site lets you measure where your printed material is working best and on who.

Variable data diagnostics

Knowing what you want to achieve by personalising your printed promotional material is one thing, but assessing the methods you're going to use is another.

Personalising documents en-masse in this manner can improve customer response rates by up to 30 percent and increase customer loyalty by 26 percent in the short-term or a whopping 50 percent in the long-term.

Variable data printing is a statistically safe bet. Personalising documents en-masse in this manner can improve customer response rates by up to 30 percent and increase customer loyalty by 26 percent in the short-term or a whopping 50 percent in the long-term.

Nowadays, the quality of most digital inkjets—used for printing this kind of material—rivals that of lithographic printing so you do not even need to limit yourself to direct mail marketing, variable data printing can scale up to magazines and brochures if that is what it takes to engage people.

Personalised printing can vary from just an address on the front of printed mail to names on front covers of brochures or covering letters to give the impression of a personal touch. If you're talking about personalised data rather than names, presenting promotions and special offers in the same way as you see online works along identical lines, it's just a matter of placement. The important thing to consider is timing. If you are promoting this kind of personalised dialogue with your customers, keep it up by replacing your twice-yearly brochure with smaller items which are delivered to customers every couple of months.

By effectively gauging when your customers are most open to personalised communications, keeping track of what works and reaching out at the right level, it is possible to make your printed media work harder than ever. This is both in the flesh so to speak and online, promoting a holistic strategy for your brand that really gets results.

Elanders UK is part of Elanders Group, which is a company with operations in 15 countries on four continents. Elanders Group offers its customers global solutions for print & packaging, supply chain management and e-commerce.

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