Inkjet Printer Merges Direct Mail and Newspapers

This was pretty interesting to read how European printers are using digital inkjet presses to help clients improve their personalized communications. Have a look and tell us what you think. Good ideas?

In a recent story for Inkjet’s Age, I wrote about how European printers and publishers were leveraging the capabilities high-volume inkjet presses to produce short-run, customized/personalized newspapers. Another European printing company likewise began producing inkjet newspapers but has taken it to the next level, merging newspaper applications with direct mail, all the while leveraging the power of databases to create highly personalized—and highly effective—marketing campaigns.

Based in Halle, Belgium, Symeta was born of the 2011 merger of Druco, an offset printer, and Colruyt Group Services, a document management company. Today, the company specializes in using their proficiency with databases to devise highly creative, innovative print products, blurring the line between direct mail and publications. Acquiring HP T200 and T400 Color Inkjet Web Presses has allowed them to move in entirely new and creative directions.

The company’s initial forays into inkjet newspaper printing were along the lines of other European inkjet newspaper applications: low volumes of foreign papers for visitors. But that was just the beginning.

“As we are a one-to-one specialist, we started to use the newspaper as a direct mail piece,” said Jo Van De Weghe, sales and marketing manager for Symeta. So for a Belgian jeans retailer, “we started to produce different newspapers for each of its customers. We made a different newspaper based on the buying behavior of his customers.” The publication utilized data on the customers’ favorite style of jeans—the retailer carries up to 50 styles—and mixed information about those styles with special promotions and other static and personalized content.

The jeans project was a success, and Symeta has gone on to produce customized direct mail publications for companies in other verticals like travel and insurance.

For Kazou, a Belgian youth organization that arranges travel holidays for teens and tweens, Symeta produced a holiday newspaper. “Kazou has 300,000 kids whose parents buy holidays for their kids, so we made an offer based on the holidays they already took, based on the age of the children,” said Van De Weghe. The newspaper included personalized covers as well as additional personalized interior sections printed on the T400, and three offset-printed sections of static content. In all, there were 56 million data combinations. As a result of the promotion, Kazou saw holiday bookings spike.

For Ethias, an insurance company, Symeta created a personalized welcome magazine for each of the company’s new policyholders—up to 2,000 a month. The title of the magazine was the first name of the customer, and other variable content included the customer’s social and demographic information, the nearest Ethias office, and specific content based on the policy the customer had purchased—in all, 70 million content combinations. The results? The welcome magazine was given high marks by Ethias’ customers, but more importantly, 54 percent of recipients said they would contact their local sales office, the number of new customers requesting an additional quote rose from 8.6 to 20 percent, and the number of new customers taking out a new insurance policy rose from 1.4 to 4.7 percent.

Like other companies who have pursued high-speed, high-volume inkjet applications, Symeta has found that the primary challenge is indeed working with data. “Getting the right files and the right segmentation out,” said Van De Weghe. “We go to customers with a strategic marketing person to choose the right channel. Sometimes it’s not direct mail, but when it is, we make sure we can get out of the data what we need to.” Working with data scares a lot of marketers away, he added, “because data and IT are something they are not strong in, so we take away the complexity.”

Other challenges of working with inkjet are perennial color management issues, especially when using newsprint. “That’s an issue most of the time,” said Van De Weghe. When Symeta takes on a new customer, they do some preliminary tests to make sure logos and corporate colors can be reproduced properly. “You really have to be able to play with different types of profiles to be able to get the output right.”

Symeta has committed itself to inkjet production, such that they recently closed down their offset facility, choosing to outsource offset work when it’s called for. “We also work with the Indigo 7500 and some cutsheet Xerox printers,” said Van De Weghe, “but we’re trying to do as much as we can on the T200 and T400.”

Van De Weghe cites as primary advantages of inkjet lower costs—personalized communications are more highly targeted so you print and mail less than you do a massive static direct mail campaign—and higher response rates. “When you’re lucky you get both—you send less and you get a higher return,” said Van De Weghe. “That’s the best combination.”

There is also a third big advantage: creativity. Symeta is actively involved in the conception and development of custom publishing/direct mail projects, seeing their role as one of inspiring their customers, and then creativity becomes a two-way street. “We always say to a marketer, ‘start dreaming,’” said Van De Weghe.

“Tell us your dream, and we’ll see how far we can get.”


Source: My Print Resource

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