Digital printing technology decisions made simpler
Debora Haskel, VP, marketing, IWCO Direct
With the advancements of high-volume digital print technologies, marketers face an array of choices to marry data and unique messaging and images for the direct mail portion of their multichannel campaign.
With so many options, deciding the right one to use can be exhausting. How do you decide between continuous four-color inkjet or pre-printed shells with laser personalization for your campaign? Or maybe your offer is so highly personalized and segmented that you should use full-color variable digital printing so that every piece is truly unique. Here are three tips to help make your platform decision simpler:
- Size matters.
While full, variable digital printing is less expensive, it's not an option if you're mailing millions of pieces on a Web offset budget. However, don't assume that you'll need hundreds of plate changes to personalize your offer. A smart designer can create templates for high-volume campaigns that avoid that while allowing a high degree of personalization with laser or inkjet personalization on preprinted forms. If your mailing quantity is thousands instead of millions, full variable data digital print may be the best option.
- First impressions matter.
If your product is high-end, your paper choice probably needs to be high-end, too. If you need to use metallic ink and double hits of varnish, stay away from full-color continuous inkjet. At the other extreme, if your goal is to promote a sale or a value product, don't confuse your audience with heavy, glossy stock and lots of four-color images. If your campaign has multiple versions, consider the latest drop-on-demand continuous inkjet options. You may be surprised by the quality, and find you have a cost-effective option.
- Test. Test. Test.
If your campaign has a robust testing strategy for direct mail, think carefully about your outer envelope. Judicious use of windows may allow you to use the same outer envelope for all the versions of your letter or brochure. Your personalized message and images can show through the window and eliminate the need for multiple envelope versions. You'll save both time and money, and your test results will be simpler to evaluate because you're removing the variable of the outer envelope. If the outer envelope doesn't need to include an offer expiration date, you'll also be able to take advantage of producing inventory that won't be obsolete next quarter. A savvy designer can create a template that will work with multiple forms and provide a cost-effective way to implement a complex testing program.