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New ideas for Variable Data Printing – a superior end-user experience

Switched on marketers are recognising the changing tides of personalisation, and that it’s no longer enough to merely personalise customer communications with just the recipient’s name.

With marketing software helping brands to easily personalise communications on and offline – from emails and website interfaces (such as Amazon and eBay) to direct mail – the novelty of simply being personally addressed by businesses has long worn off. Now, the focus has shifted to end-user experience.

Here, marketers are looking at how customer’s receive and respond to communications from businesses, and how to use data in such a way that enables each interaction with the customer to be relevant, informative and as part of an on-going conversation. This is applicable to the entire marketing mix, including print.

Document design and a move to value based charging

Variable data printing (VDP) is nothing new, however the way it can be used with regards to the end-user experience is creating new possibilities. Using clever journey mapping, forward-thinking print service providers (PSPs) are working with customers to create sophisticated documents that ‘do more’ by achieving multiple objectives.

For instance, a utility company may want to discuss new tariff options with a specific customer based on their current usage. This is not only communicated clearly in writing, but can be supported by a visual representation in the form of a graphic, for example.

Furthermore, online details can be included – be it via a direct link or a trigger such as a QR code or Near Field Communication (NFC) tag – to take the recipient to a specific webpage for additional information, such as an adjustable calculator to enable to the customer to estimate which tariff will work best for them before committing. Then can complete the process on the website, before receiving a confirmation letter that outlines the details.

It’s all about considering the end-users’ thought process and helping them get from A to B with minimal effort. With VDP, all of this can be cost-effectively mapped out and clearly communicated in one document tailored to individual recipients.

Instead of merely accepting and producing a print order, PSPs can look to add value by asking their customers: “What exactly do you want this piece of print to achieve?” Once the customers’ goals are established, PSPs can begin to explain and explore the vast application possibilities of VDP to create more dynamic documents that can achieve a number of objectives, from payment options and tailored promotions to methods to redeem the offers, and deliver a better return on investment (ROI) for customers.

By putting the customer’s intentions and needs first, PSPs can demonstrate that they have their customer’s best interests at heart and are eager to provide a service that adds value. Naturally, this will lead to a more long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between the customer and PSP.

By taking a more hands on approach with document design, PSPs can move from the traditional charge-based pricing to value-based charging. Here, a PSP considers the value of the benefits a buyer can expect from its VDP services and calculates a price accordingly. In a time where PSPs have to find a differentiator where possible to remain profitable, this can be vital.

Inspiration for VDP applications

VDP is powerful enabler of creativity. Just as it enabled ARS Grafisch (see box out) to enter a new market, there are a wide range of applications that can inspire end-users to engage with brands. With the right approach, and effective use of data, PSPs can create highly personalised print for their customers – from personalised brochures and statements to interactive direct mail – that helps them develop their service offering and generate healthy revenues.

Below are a host of applications possible using VDP that a PSP may wish to consider:

  • Invoices with tailored offers including marketing messages relevant to the consumer’s purchasing history
  • Personalised financial statements that show information for multiple accounts
  • Visual representation of data via chart graphics (such as findings from a recent poll in a customer survey)
  • Transpromotional offers on applications such as event tickets with additional details/discounts on future events
  • Travel itineraries that include destination information, such as activity recommendations and local weather forecasts
  • Targeted messaging on utility bills to help end-users save money, such as paying by direct debit and alternative tariffs to consider

As marketers continue to identify ways to make more personal connections with consumers and enter a two-way dialogue, PSPs can promote the vast potential of VDP to drive such engagement, ultimately developing their service offering beyond mere print fulfilment.

Customer success: PMS & ARS Grafisch

Media agency Personal Media Solutions (PMS) and ARS Grafisch, a Dutch PSP, have both benefited from variable data printing (VDP) services and its ability to make premium personalised products. PMS enlisted ARS to produce personalised packaging for chocolate brand, Milka – a subsidiary of global food giant Kraft Foods. Following a successful campaign whereby ARS Grafisch produced personalised Milka chocolate boxes using its Canon imagePRESS C7000, the collaboration between the PSP, PMS and Canon went on to produce more applications for other brands in the Kraft Foods portfolio.

Customers will pay a premium for high quality personalised products,

explains Nico Veenedaal, Director of PMS.

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