When we think about color management, we often think about its operational impact – how does color management help us turn out quality print – and that’s certainly important. But the impact of color management goes beyond operational excellence and can have a significant influence on profitability as well as customer acquisition and retention.

    Let’s face it, without our customers, we have nothing. And the same can be said for them and their customers. So part of the color management proposition is to be able to deliver real value to our customers. Especially these days, with everything that is going on, your customers are looking for ways to stand out and to drive interest in their products or services, and their customers are increasingly receptive to messages and offers they receive via direct mail.

    The Value of Color in Direct Mail

    In 2017, Canon Solutions America reported that color printing is 55% more likely to be read than black & white, and response time is 30% better. They noted that color could even drive actual purchasing, with promotions in full color increasing the likelihood of a purchase by 80%. And according to PANTONE, brand identification is 70% higher thanks to color. These are powerful statistics to share with your customers and can easily justify any additional cost associated with migrating communications from monochrome to full color.

    But, for your customers to achieve those benefits, color must be accurate. You want your colors to be under control with no color deviation or randomness that can harm perception by your customers and their customers!

    It’s also worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of direct mail has increased; during the second quarter of 2020, it saw an average increase of 11% in terms of interaction numbers, year-on-year. People are home and they are even more likely to pay attention to the mail than ever before.

    And in terms of your profitability, across all print applications, Keypoint Intelligence reported in January 2020 that 2.7% of the print jobs in North America and 4.5% of the print jobs in Europe on average are rejected by print buyers because of inconsistent, inaccurate color, leading to lost revenue in the hundreds of thousands of $/€ per year. Worse yet, too many of these rejected print jobs lead to fleeing customers and bad reviews.

    Color Management Must Be Flexible and Easy to Implement

    How colors are reproduced has a massive influence on how the quality of a printed product is perceived. And it can be even more complex to achieve than in the past. Why? Because not only do you need to manage traditional CMYK and how colors appear on different substrates, but now you also must consider the effect of white ink, varnish, metallics, fluorescents and gamut-extending colors such as orange, green, pink, or violet! On top of that, most shops have a higher volume of small jobs that must be processed quickly, and there isn’t the time and resources to devote to tweaking color on every job.

    It is essential to be able to achieve the most impactful color possible for direct mail that you can get out of your printer/media/toner/ink combination for the piece to act as an attention catcher. However, if you boost color, for example, you also need to make sure that you do not oversaturate critical areas like neutral grays and skin tones and that you reproduce brand colors as precisely as possible. Therefore, you need a color management solution and process that will give you the best possible color results and saturation with the least amount of human intervention, while also protecting critical areas. That not only gives you quality to be proud of, but it keeps costs down due to minimizing rejects and rework and binds customers to your print shop as they know they are in good hands.

    There are a variety of solutions on the market today that can help you achieve these goals of boosting your color management, operational excellence, and profitability, and there’s no better time to invest in them than now.

    Roland Campa is a senior product line manager at EFI responsible for color in EFI’s Fiery digital print technology product line. Fiery products include Color Profiler Suite, Fiery Spot-On, Spot Pro, EFI Color Guard, Fiery Edge, and Intensify. For more information, visit www.efi.com/cps.

    This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2021 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.