Printers look to drive cross-channel strategies

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In this era of multichannel marketing, direct mail printers are expanding their offerings with e-mail, online video and other strategies intended to help marketers drive sales and traffic across channels.

"Marketers have limited budgets so they have to make every penny count," said Freddie Baird, EVP, chief operating officer at QuantumDigital. However, many are doing direct mail with one vendor and e-mail with another. "That type of segregation is inefficient," Baird said.

QuantumDigital, Austin, TX, was one of several printers exhibiting at last week's DMA Annual conference here that is looking at ways to help customers with their multichannel campaigns.

The show was QuantumDigital's first public appearance with a new name û the company was previously known as Quantum Mail û and new logo. The revamp was in response to the fact that company is an entirely digital printing facility that it is now offering customers e-mail marketing capabilities, Baird said.

With its new capabilities, QuantumDigital can recommend the best ways for customers to allocate their budget using online and offline media, said Eric Cosway, VP and CMO.

For example, Sylvan Learning Centers is using an on-demand portal developed by QuantumDigital that enables its 1,200 local franchisees to not only pick a template online for both direct mail and e-mail, but because the databases are built in, they can choose which ZIP codes to mail to. There's also a variety of variable data elements, including full-color images, to choose from.

The average response rate for one of QuantumDigital's campaigns with multiple touch points is 15% to 16%, Baird said.

The ability to offer personalized URL's and e-mail are driving new customers to direct mail printer DME, even though Internet services still only account for 15 percent of overall sales, said Alin Jacobs, vp strategies and partnerships, DME.

Which is why the company is working on building up its variable-data, rich media video offerings, Jacobs said. The videos show up in an e-mail as soon as the recipient opens it with no delay or need to click on anything. They can be used to encourage the recipient to call a sales representative, as in the case of a campaign DME did for Harley-Davidson, or to facilitate an online survey with an interactive video host that asks the questions, such as DME did for Prudential Real Estate.

The interest in integrated campaigns that include video has been so strong that DME, Dayton Beach, FL, is currently in the process of building a new studio that, at 25,000 square feet, is three times the size of its previous one.

Freedom Graphics, like Quantum Digital, was displaying a new logo and branding initiative at the show. It was also highlighting its abilities to help retailers use direct mail to drive traffic into stores. The company is offering a new dimensional coupon that is basically a direct mailer with a durable personalized card that can be printed on press. As a result, Freedom Graphics is able to "produce [gift card programs] at a fraction of the time of normal gift cards because we're integrating on press," said Chris Leitnick, southwest regional sales director. Customers currently using this service include Lowe's, Domino's and Baskin Robbins.

Freedom, Milton, WI, is targeting retailers more as part of an overall expansion plan. The company is currently expanding its facility by 130,000 square feet, adding 3 offset presses and adding co-mailing equipment.

QuadGraphics, Sussex, WI, which is best known as a printer of catalogs, magazines and inserts, is also looking at ways to help retailers complement the various channels that they may be in.

While QuadData, the company's data and postal processing division, has been around since 1988, QuadGraphics is pushing it more heavily now as it expands into lettershop programs through its acquisition last year of OpenFirst. Retailers, for example, have the ability to send e-mails to those receiving mail from the merchant, targeted letter packages and other variable data pieces.

"We're putting a lot more maps on direct mail," said Eric Blohm, vp of sales and marketing, QuadGraphics. The maps may show where a store is, where the best entrance of the mall is for a particular retailer or what entrance to use off the highway.

Other printers are reflecting the continued growth in digital printing.

To meet growing demand for specialized direct mail programs such as trigger mailings, response management services and highly personalized loyalty programs, IWCO Direct said it will consolidate its Long Island facilities into one location in Melville, NY, and invest more than $2 million into this facility, including adding four-color digital print capabilities.

IWCO also said it will it increase its commingling capabilities by 35 percent to drive postal optimization strategies for customers.

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