This article originally appeared in the July/August, 2018 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.

Capturing the attention of customers and prospects and making a good first impression is everything to organizations. The challenge, however, is that in a communication-cluttered world, people will now only glance at a website, mail piece, e-mail, or video before deciding about whether it’s worth their time. As a result, marketers are seeking strategies to create better marketing pieces with strong visual appeal that prompt the consumer to read further or take an action. For many marketers, this means using color and personalization in communications with customers.

Consumers like color. According to Keypoint Intelligence -- InfoTrends’ study, Direct Marketing Production Printing & Value-Added Services: A Strategy for Growth, the intelligent use of color in direct mail often generates improvements in response rates. Full-color images can capture a consumer’s attention with realistic depictions of advertised products. Color can also be used to personalize messages by matching pictures or text to items that the customer has purchased in the past. Furthermore, nearly 49% of consumers reported that seeing color on an envelope had a moderate or major effect on their likelihood of opening it (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Direct Mail Envelopes with Color Get Opened

How does the use of color on a direct mail envelope affect your likelihood of opening it?

Personalization Delivers Results

The ability to personalize printed communications to individual recipients or create versions for specific audience segments is finally hit its stride. Digital printing and innovations inkjet printing are enabling marketers to produce highly customized direct mail and transactional documents fast enough to capture market opportunity and comply with regulatory guidelines. As a result, personalized printing is projected to generate high levels of growth over the next several years. According to another InfoTrends’ research study (In Search of Business Opportunities: Finding the Right Prospects), marketers that personalize their printed materials report a direct correlation between personalization and response rates (Figure 2). The timeliness of the communication, the relevance of the information, and other engagement factors (e.g., the use of color) work together to improve response rates.

Figure 2

What is the primary driver behind personalizing customer communications?

As marketers seek better ways to capture attention and drive action (e.g., make a purchase, donate, or sign up) from audiences, delivering the right content to the right audience, at the right time and in their preferred channel will continue to be a primary focus for transactional and promotional communications.

Color and Personalization Are More Affordable!

The use of color in customer communications is not a new. Historically, direct mailers and transactional communication service bureaus have digitally printed in black-and-white and relied on offset-printed shells to provide color design elements such as logos, highlighted text, and tints. Today, however, the technology for generating affordable high-quality color with inkjet in a single pass continues to evolve. The technological advancements associated with inkjet (e.g., improved inkjet heads, better inks, and more substrates like inkjet-optimized coated papers) have changed the dynamics associated with producing full-color promotional and transaction documents while eliminating the need for preprinted shells. Digital technology is now a viable contender for producing a broad array of marketing applications. Today’s digital technologies can deliver near-offset quality and high speeds, all while meeting today’s marketing requirements for 100% variable content and envelope messaging.

For marketers, the inkjet value proposition transcends beyond cost per print. It offers the ability to deliver color that gets noticed with a new approach to communications. The investment in inkjet is about delivering new levels of value to your customer base. Today’s print engines, finishing technologies, and workflow solutions have the flexibility to deliver on the age-old promise of one-to-one personalized messaging in full color. Marketing executives are seeking techniques to improve customer loyalty and grow their businesses with more engaging and dynamic communications. The technology is in place to have the right conversations with your customers to help get their direct mail and customers communications noticed!

Lisa Cross, Associate Director of InfoTrends’ Business Development Strategies Consulting Service, is responsible for conducting market research, managing consulting projects, and assisting companies in developing multi-channel communication, marketing, and content strategies.

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