By John Arnsdorf, product marketing manager at XMPie, A Xerox Company
Even though QR Codes have been around since the mid 90’s, their adoption rate has only recently taken off. This is due in part to a larger population of people toting smartphones with higher resolution cameras, larger screens, faster Internet connections, and lower data rates. Between July and December 2010, QR Code scanning increased an astonishing 1,200% across North America, according to a report from mobile payments and marketing company Mobio Identity Systems Inc. Additionally, a separate study found that 57% of Facebook and Twitter users said they have scanned a mobile barcode at least once in the past year, while as many as 40% had done so 5 or more times in the past year. Considering the Facebook population surpassed a staggering 900 million active members earlier this year, that is a lot of people scanning a lot of QR Codes. Now that QR Codes have gone mainstream, the challenge is to utilize them in new and creative ways that engage customers and allow them to interact with brands in a whole new way.
I am frequently asked by customers, “How can I use QR Codes in my marketing campaigns?” The real question is, “How can you more effectively use QR Codes in your marketing campaigns?” It is not enough to simply slap a 2D barcode onto something; you need to thoughtfully incorporate QR Codes into each touch point; use one to link to online content, use it as a vehicle to interact with customers, or create experience around your brand. Personally, I don’t like answering a question with a question; however, so I’ve written 5 tips to get you thinking about how you might integrate a QR Code into your next campaign.
- Make a QR Code part of the call-to-action. I’m more likely to make the effort to scan a code if I know it might lead me to a personalized coupon, contest, game or something that is out of the ordinary and unique. I might even scan a code to reveal a surprise, but it better be good. It’s always a good idea to offer a strong motivator to entice your target audience into scanning your QR Code.
- Use QR Codes in your signage and displays. I’m a foodie. Consequently, I frequent a lot of wine and cheese shops, and other specialty stores, to learn about and buy the products they sell. Even though I like learning about the products I choose to spend my money on, I don’t like stores that litter the shelves with information about each product. Displays should have just enough information to draw me in and use QR Codes linking to supplemental information, such as varietal information, tasting notes and food pairings.
- Use QR Codes to save your customers time. If you are inviting your loyal customers to an event, use the code to add the event to their calendar with all the relevant details. If you are prospecting to new customers and want them to visit your brick-and-mortar, use the code to give them a map with door-to-door directions. QR Codes can contain up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters, so use them!
- Make it easy for your customers to give you money. Like many of you, I get countless donation letters from every not-for-profit under the sun. The vast majority of them expect me to fill out a form, write a check, and worst of all, find an envelope and stamp. I’m sorry, but that takes too much of the precious little time I do have, and chances are I don’t have a stamp. I think I am still using the same book of forever stamps I bought years ago. Give me a QR Code I can scan that links to a personalized site with all my information filled out and a place to enter my donation and pay with PayPal, and you’ll get my financial support.
- Give your customers something they can keep. Sometimes, after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend the next 1-2 hours cooking dinner. So, I turn to my restaurant drawer, which is stuffed to the brim with to-go menus that are typically hand-folded photocopies of photocopies. These notoriously poor reproductions of the normal menu are my take-away impression of the restaurant. What a lost opportunity to ‘wow’ me. Restaurateurs, if you are listening, use a QR Code outside your establishment, which links to a PDF of your menu that I can download and keep on my phone. Now I can have your menu instantly accessible anytime I feel like going out for a bite to eat.
However you choose to use a QR Code in your next campaign, make sure you leverage what you already know about your customers and give them a personalized experience. And if you don’t know anything about me, use the QR Code to get me to a page where I can tell you a little about myself. If I think there is something in it for me, I’m liable to give up a little information.
By Larry Zusman, worldwide marketing manager at XMPie, A Xerox Company
Last week I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the Xerox Focus Forward event in Orlando. This is one of many that are being conducted around the country, and the audience is split between print and marketing service providers and those interested in enterprise managed print services. About 140 customers attended this event. The good news is that I came away feeling like I was NOT at a typical industry event. This is a different type of venue than I have seen in the past – and to be honest – it is a very refreshing change.
The day started out with a keynote from Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company. Bill stood in front of the audience – all 140 people – and did not use ONE PowerPoint slide, ONE video, ONE picture. Nothing! It was just Bill, talking to folks about why originality, creativity and innovative thinking are what make the difference between great companies and not-so-great ones.
As is the case with every speech from the movers and shakers in the industry, there were a couple of phrases that carried the day, and stories that will resonate with me and others for a long time. One of those was that R & D, according to Bill, stands for “Rip-Off and Duplicate.” The point he made – namely that R & D must create new ideas, new ways of doing things, and that original thinking needs to be a fabric of the company, its employees, marketing, sales and, of course, branding – is an important lesson for an audience of print service providers looking for a way to differentiate themselves and gain competitive advantages.
To make the point, he told the story of DaVita, a company that started as a stodgy kidney dialysis company, like others, and reinvented itself into top condition (while significantly increasing its bottom line) – a vibrant, unique, customer-focused, employee-loving firm that truly embodied its new name that means in Italian “to give life.” When he finished, everyone got the point that the way to bring a shaky, less-than-well company to sustainable, good health, is with original, out-of-the-box thinking.
Once Bill was done, the audience was divided into the production and managed services tracks. I attended production, and it was in this session where I was introduced to a new way to liven up a day-long event. Since you are going to have various guests with different topics, and are planning on sprinkling in company commercials and videos from your guests, why not borrow The Tonight Show’s format? After all, there are guests, and each one comes with a video trailer for their movie or TV show. So that is exactly what Xerox did. And they did it with no PowerPoint slides of any kind. At first, it felt like some strange alien planet where the word Microsoft is unknown and the inhabitants actually engage in interactive dialogue. But after about five seconds, I got very used to it – and enjoyed every minute afterwards.
Industry experts provided their industry expertise (it’s what they do). Xerox partner companies talked about the importance of workflow (it’s a critical part of printing]. And well-thought-out customer panels with the folks that are realizing success were interspersed throughout the program, offering insights to print providers on how to effectively move from PSP to MSP, value price their offerings, and grow their business with new services like variable data print and one-to-one cross-media marketing. I was fortunate enough to be part of one of the liveliest panels of the day focusing on the newest applications. It included a demonstration of the power of printing digital photos with Xerox presses in personalized calendars and wide panoramic image books; how Web-to-print solutions specially designed for print providers can link Facebook pictures and other data with print; specialty media applications, such as personalized FunFlips™ and AccordianPix™, and how the new XMPie video personalization solution can literally be the “icing on the cake” in a multichannel campaign.
Also introduced on this panel was a short video, for those who could not get to drupa, of the new XMPie Circle™ Software as a Service solution. This interactive, digital storyboard for planning, building and reviewing a campaign is designed to help everyone sell, create and implement cross-media campaigns. For a moment (a very brief one), I felt like George Clooney introducing the trailer to his newest picture to Jay Leno.
The content sounds like a typical event, but with the talk show format where the very talented Brian Walsh plays a fun, engaging and appropriately self-deprecating host, it makes for an entertaining afternoon – which by the way is pretty darn educational, too. The only thing missing is Johnny Carson’s “Carnac,” who, if you’re old enough to remember, you will know really was the best host ever. The rest of the hosts are really into “R & D.”
However you want to define it, Focus Forward in Orlando was a day to move forward and focus on what matters most, namely business creativity, knowledge of the market, and making the right solution choices. And that means that you need to get to one of these as soon as you can, instead of holding up envelopes to your forehead for the right answers.
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 Deb Haines, senior trainer/solutions specialist, XMPie, A Xerox Company
The first key to doing any type of variable application, from a simple direct mail piece to a highly-complex, ongoing cross-media campaign, is having accurate data. Often, for those new to the industry, data and managing the files holding the content is a daunting new world. Sure, most people are familiar with using and working with everyday databases; for example, entering information into their phone’s contact list or putting an address list together for events that need invites. However, most people don’t think about the actual list itself, and how a computer application understands or works with that list of data. Most computer applications that read data (similar to the way you would) use a special language called SQL (Structured Query Language), but that discussion is for another time. Let’s start with the basics. Just so you know, terminology will be italicized.
All databases have common characteristics. First, there is the content, which can be described and labeled. For example, the label for “123 Main Street” would be “Street Address,” and the content would consist of letters and numbers. To a computer, the content “123 Main Street” is the called the data value, “Street Address” is called a field or field name, and the description of the content is known as a data type—in this case, a list of characters, known as a string.
When you group a set of related fields, you’ve created a record. The easiest way to see a record is to create a list using a column format with the field names at the top of the column. When you group a set of related records together, you have a data table.
Here’s an example of a customer data table:
|ABC Corporation||123 Main Street||Philadelphia||PA||US101|
|XYZ Industries||222 South Avenue||New York||NY||US102|
|LMN Company||321 NE West Blvd.||CapitolCity||CA||UX202|
|Massive Dynamic||890 Central Road||Denver||CO||US102|
Typically, data of this sort has other information that can be associated with it. In the example above, each company has an agent, and agents have a data table of their own information containing a field called Agent ID. Fields that are common (same data) between two tables are called key fields. Key fields usually have the same field name, but it is not a requirement. When there are multiple tables that can be linked directly or indirectly through other tables, this is known as a Relational Database.
Data tables can be stored in two ways: (1) as a flat data source, or (2) by using an application known as a Relational Database Management System.
Flat data sources are tables that are stored as text files with a symbol known as a delimiter (often a comma or tab) between values, or entered into a spreadsheet (like MS Excel). Data stored in this way usually doesn’t have a method for properly describing the data, nor is there a method to associate their key fields with other tables.
RDMS applications (MySQL, MS Access or SQL Server, Oracle) were built with ways to manage lots of data (millions of records), thousands of data tables, how they relate to each other, and usually their own flavor of SQL.
So, those are the basics of a critical component to successful variable data print and cross-media campaigns – data. Now check out this Digital Publishing Solutions article for insights on obtaining, maintaining and leveraging customer data. Our very own Judy Berlin, worldwide marketing manager for XMPie, shares a couple key pieces of advice.
Thanks for reading, and please comment below if you have any questions!
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.
By Larry Zusman, worldwide marketing manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
Have you ever wondered what the XMPie slogan “One to One in One” really means if you don’t already know? Is it a term borrowed from Aristotle describing the highest state of intellectual enlightenment? No. Does it represent the fact that our software was developed by members of One to One, a 1980s Canadian pop music group, in one minute? Definitely not. So, let me try to explain…
One way many people implement cross-media publishing is by bringing in multiple toolsets for each channel (print, Web and email), which also brings in multiple workflows…and potential problems. The variable data print component is relatively straightforward – customer data help designers create variable data designs, and both the data and designs go through a personalization engine to reach the printer and ultimately the recipients.
However, adding additional channels with different vendors isn’t so straightforward. For example, adding personalized websites requires some conversion of the data from the customer’s data source and hosting it on a Web server. From there, the data is used by the Web designer to create a website, and is then sent through a new personalization engine to the recipients. If respondents provide data back, such as answering a survey, somehow you will need find a way to get it back into the customer data source.
If we add email to the mix, we add another level of complexity with data. Do we coordinate with the Web database or the customer database? And, with this multi-vendor approach, how can we ever be sure that the variable data and business rules in all of these three systems are in sync? In other words, how do we guarantee that a specific recipient received the exact same offer and message in print, Web and email if the database and systems are different?
With XMPie we have one system, centralized with a single server solution (the XMPie uProduce Server) that seamlessly connects with the customer database and generates print, email, personalized Web pages, and mobile communications – hence the slogan, “One to One in One”. It also allows important information learned from personalized Web pages – such as surveys – to be returned into the customer database for immediate use. Best of all, because you are working with only one system, you can easily track and analyze every customer interaction in a campaign, across all channels.
So, whether you are a marketing services provider, creative agency or enterprise marketer interested in creating and implementing integrated, measurable 1:1 cross-media campaigns, there is only one right answer: XMPie.
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?
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!