By Judy Berlin, worldwide marketing manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
There’s no doubt that reaching consumers in today’s Information Age requires new techniques – and a major shift from mass marketing to direct marketing has occurred. It used to be sufficient to advertise your business anywhere and everywhere, hoping that people would notice you and that your hard work would pay off. But actually, this “spray and pray” method of marketing made us move away from personal interactions and is no longer effective, as people are starting to expect one-to-one communications again. Why? They are simply bombarded by information, so they tune out the messages that are not relevant to them and their specific interests. Taking into account not only what consumers want, but also providing it at the precise moment when they want it, can lead to greater brand awareness and sales.
Although this type of individual attention seems a daunting task in today’s fast-paced, digital environment, it is possible and even practical to scale this business wisdom and efficiently apply it to the masses. Because in addition to broadcast media, technology and other channels now exist (i.e. digital printing, email, Internet, mobile, social media, variable data and cross-media software, data mining, analytics, etc.) that enable you to engage in ongoing, one-to-one communications with each of your customers.
Take variable data printing (VDP) for example. VDP, as defined by worldwide document technology strategy and consulting firm, InfoTrends, is a form of on-demand digital printing that produces customized or personalized documents targeted to an individual. Within a single document design, elements such as text, graphics, and images are changed from one printed page to the next based on recipient information from a database.
Many print service providers (PSPs) are providing some type of VDP service and have been for quite a while. It is not something new, but it has come a long way. A VDP solution from a leading software provider like XMPie, allows PSPs to work with familiar design tools and file formats, and utilize simple data files, to incorporate all the demographic, geographic, and psychographic information they know about their customers (i.e. name, address, occupation, age, gender, interests, hobbies, spending habits, etc.) into their direct mail campaigns in clever, relevant ways that get noticed. InfoTrends research and existing case studies confirm that doing so yields higher margins, creates new revenue streams, and drives more volume to digital presses.
But what’s even more exciting to consider is that more and more PSPs are extending their personalization knowledge and capabilities to other channels, such as websites, email and mobile messaging. The key is to start with what you know and grow from there. Clearly, you need to have a foundation in VDP before jumping into the more advanced cross-media capabilities. But if you realize that this is where you need to go, and are willing to make the right investments in technology, people, and possibly partnerships or acquisitions, there are few limitations on what you can sell and deliver to customers.
By Robin Nelson, programmer at Trialogue Direct
If you’re anything like me, you never considered planning a wedding until you got engaged. And for those of us involved in any aspect of wedding planning, it can be quite stressful and even make some bride-to-be’s just a tad bit crazy.
Fortunately for me (and my husband and anyone else involved), I was quite the unconventional bride and focused on aspects that typically aren’t the norm. I didn’t fuss about the flowers, the dress, centerpieces or location; my concerns were the printed pieces and creating a “campaign” to market my wedding. Perhaps I’ve been in the print industry far too long and have developed some strange appreciation for paper and printing—or maybe I’m more of a nerd for technology than I care to admit—but either way, I had a very specific plan I wanted to execute.
Because weddings are such personal events, more often than not, the bride and groom have a very unique understanding of each of their guests. This in itself allows for such a relevant and almost effortless recipient data collection not typically available by any other means. Having taken full advantage of this aspect and the resources available to me, I was able to utilize XMPie solutions to truly personalize each piece in my wedding campaign.
Being able to embrace and leverage technological tools like XMPie technology not only allowed me to create a cross-media wedding campaign, which honored much traditional etiquette with a modern flare, but also truly made a world of a difference to me. From gathering more information about each of my guests, to the simplest tasks of organization, the advantages in technology can be quite extraordinary to any bride—and greatly appreciated by her guests.
Among my first tasks was to spread the news after getting engaged, and what better way to do so than the traditional methods coupled with the use of technology? Although I’m no designer, I very much wanted to create a website and handle the creative for such a personal project, even if it forced me into unchartered waters to handle certain aspects. Nonetheless, I was able to incorporate what I do for others on a daily basis for myself.
With the use of variable data printing, there was no confusion on head count (thanks to the guests who updated their RURL, especially in regards to children). This allowed me to stay within budget and easily manage my guest list, which goes hand-in-hand with creating a seating chart. Not to mention, this also allowed me to subtly inform each guest how I anticipated any “plus ones.” And of course, the added benefit for anyone who’s heavily reliant on their phone, such as me, is having so much personal contact details on friends and family being consolidated to a single data source with relevant information—truly quite the gold mine.
Another added benefit was a minor savings in postage, and quite possibly a very underrated convenience for guests to RSVP. With the preferred RSVP methods received from the RURL results, and assuming the logical approach depending on the answer given, submitting a RSVP and meal preference couldn’t be made any easier. Having the XMPie Marketing Console iPhone app had also proven itself handy. It allowed me to provide final head counts and meal preferences to my caterer and vendors alike by merely updating my reports on-the-fly.
Of course, after the wedding, there’s still the daunting task of properly thanking each guest with the gratitude they deserve. Fortunately, I had anticipated this aspect to be among the most challenging and quite possibly the most demanding, so I created a listing of QR codes assigned to each guest, which I would snap to update my SQL table with the item(s) received as I opened each gift. Although this process may sound a bit overboard, it truly helped expedite the entire ‘thank you’ process on a highly-personalized level. And although the thank you notes were NOT hand written, they more than possessed your traditional, personal touch.
And so, unlike many happily ever afters, XMPie most certainly has contributed its fair share to this one.
Filed under: Cross Media, E-mail, Marketing, One-to-one, VDP, Web-to-Print
By Christine Winter, PR/Marketing programs manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
It’s no secret that 1:1 marketing campaigns that incorporate many different media channels have a greater reach, response and ROI. But did you know that they also have many ‘green’ benefits? Think about it…
Print is typically the first medium that comes to mind for a direct marketing campaign, and many people still prefer to receive important information in the mail. Although it seems print can’t possibly be ‘green,’ there are ways to make it more environmentally responsible (i.e. recycled paper, solid ink, duplex printing, etc.). Plus, with strategic and effective personalized print that is targeted to the right recipient with valuable, relevant information, your direct mail is less likely to hit the trash can (or better yet, the recycle bin). Read more on the “to print or not to print” debate here.
Then there’s e-media, such as email, the Web and mobile messaging, which has become more and more popular because of its convenience and cost-effectiveness. Its environmentally-friendly benefits are obvious, and when used strategically with text or image personalization, it increases the overall effectiveness of a marketing campaign. For best results, you can use e-media for the initial phase of a campaign and then follow up with print to non-responders, or vice versa.
Another great way to reduce costs and waste is with a Web-to-print solution. Take, for example, Digital Color Imaging (DCI), an Ohio-based print and Web marketing communications company that prides itself on helping clients minimize their environmental footprint. Its long-standing client Norandex Reynolds Building Products, a division of building material leader Saint-Gobain, typically sends out monthly mailers containing multiple ads, as well as announcements about discount specials, events, and featured products. The mailers are also used to announce workshops, inviting local contractors to attend and learn how to install their products.
These mailers were traditionally printed and shipped to each of its 200 dealer locations across the country where they were stored until needed. At that point, seminar-specific information would be printed on the sheets and then mailed to each recipient. Norandex sought an easier and less wasteful way of recruiting attendees, so DCI implemented a marketing portal for the company using XMPie® uStore®. This enabled Norandex branch managers to upload customer mailing lists, customize seminar mailers, and print and mail exactly the number of materials they needed on demand. Not only did this help eliminate any unnecessary printing, significantly cutting down printing expenses and reducing shipping and storage resources and costs, but it also made the marketing materials even more targeted and relevant, increasing branch participation in these local seminars from 15 to 100 percent.
What are some ways your business is reducing its environmental impact? Are there other ways to minimize the impact of marketing communications on the environment?
By Christine Winter, PR/marketing programs manager
You’ve probably heard the mantra “we live in a world where we are bombarded daily with irrelevant and generic data, messages and information.” And by now, you’ve probably heard that embedding personalized images and URLs (PURLs) into your targeted marketing campaigns can help you cut through the clutter and generate a higher response.
While all of that remains true, marketers – and the service providers that support them – must continue to adapt to the ever-changing marketing culture across print and new media. In today’s mobile society, that means the integration of such digital technology as quick response (QR) codes within traditional direct mail pieces. And this trend is gaining major momentum.
So, what is this technology? What marketing goals do they meet? Why should you include them in your marketing? Here’s what we think.
To be literal, QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that have significantly greater storage than that of a traditional barcode. They were originally used for tracking parts by vehicle manufacturers, but are now quickly gaining popularity with the mobile phone industry. When incorporated into one-to-one marketing communications, smartphone users can scan and decode them with a QR code reader to be automatically linked to websites, pictures, videos, product reviews, social media sites, etc. For print providers, they offer a unique way to use the print component to drive a response through other media and continue the conversation.
So, okay, you’ve heard all this. But what you might not have known is that XMPie makes generating QR codes within one-to-one marketing communication pieces a breeze. We have customers using them already to direct recipients of their direct mail pieces to PURLs – what we like to call response URLs™ (RURLs) – videos, and even dynamic maps. And they are seeing results, which they attest to the fact that scanning a code to get to a website is much easier than typing the address in a mobile browser, for example.
The XMPie Advantage
When creating personalized QR codes, XMPie and its Automatic Dynamic Object Replacement (ADOR) technology has a unique edge over other technology providers. This is because with XMPie software, you never have to worry about the information in the QR code (i.e. Jane Doe’s contact information) matching the information in the personalized communication piece on which it was included (i.e. Jane Doe’s business card). Consistency between the QR code and its context is automatic because XMPie encodes and images a QR code in the same step, leaving no room for mistakes in selecting the code image for a given individual.
This differs from non-XMPie solutions in that many times the creation of a QR code image and the coding of the image are done by separate tools. The room for errors in selecting the wrong image is wide open, and the process coordination investments in order to minimize these types of errors are very high. Hence, with XMPie, a match is effortless – it’s just built in – and creating QR codes is really simple and reliable.
Just Five Easy Steps
Process for Creating QR Codes in XMPie
- Open static art in InDesign
- Link to data source
- Create a new Content Object (information to be encoded into code can be a combination of static text and variable text)
- Create a graphic box on the design where the QR Code will go
- Select the new graphic box and double click the Content Object to link the two together
The bottom line? QR codes are soon-to-be-everywhere, and they make it easier for your customers to access the information you want them to respond to. And let’s not forget that with XMPie, you can actually track QR codes just like any other event or action in a campaign. So, yes, you should include them in your marketing. It’s as easy as X-M-Pie. Cheesy, I know.
Check out the previous blog post by David Baldaro for an example of a campaign XMPie executed using QR codes, and stay tuned for more on this very fascinating technology.
If you are one of the many XMPie users who have been anticipating the release of XMPie PersonalEffect 5.0 (PE 5.0)—or a print service provider, creative professional, or corporate marketing department interested in cross-media—you should know all about the new advancements that the latest version of XMPie’s one-to-one variable data, cross-media communication solution brings.
As a new member of the XMPie family, I’ve been learning a lot about this software and its many innovative features for the creation of variable data print (VDP) and e-media communications in cross-media campaigns. But, one of the most valued features of PE 5.0, and the focus of this blog, is its support for Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5). Many of you, who may also be XMPie users, have been waiting to make the upgrade to CS5 as it offers more than 250 new tools and features for design, video editing, and Web development. Now that our software supports it, you can make the upgrade to both CS5 and PE 5.0, advancing your integrated marketing capabilities and keeping you on top of the latest industry technology and trends.
In fact, I asked Alastair Midgley, variable data print specialist for Kempenfelt Graphics Group, an award-winning Barrie printing company located in Ontario, Canada, for his feedback on the latest XMPie PersonalEffect upgrade (5.0):
“From uImage optimization to measuring e-mail marketing campaigns, XMPie has gone above and beyond with the release of PE 5.0. CS5 support, new barcode tips and tricks, XLIM enhancements, you name it…PE 5.0 ensures that XMPie remains the market leader in cross-media. This in turn keeps us competitive, vibrant and open to new business opportunities.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
So, since I cannot possibly go into all of the new features of PE 5.0 (unless you enjoy reading 10-page blogs), click here for a recap and visit us in booth #600 at Graph Expo 2010, Oct. 3-5, 2010 in Chicago, Ill. We look forward to seeing you there!