The Finishing Touch

Clive Stringer, Business Development Director for Pitney Bowes, argues that finishing plays a huge part in the success of physical mail. Waitrose is the latest big-brand business to declare the success of its print campaigns, hailing it as their most effective ROI channel and saying that 70% of its customers felt they benefited from the printed mailings Waitrose sent them. Print, says Waitrose, has enduring values and enables them to ‘tell a richer story’ 1 . If you’ve ever received one of their print mailings, you’ll notice they use a diversity of techniques to engage with you, from personalisation, to envelopes of a unique and unusual size, to colour which is eye-catching, on-brand and seasonal.

Waitrose is not alone in its love of print: the Direct Marketing Association, in its latest Response Rate Report, found that 82% of respondents plan to send at least the same amount of direct mail, if not more, this year. The study found the response rate of direct mail outperforms all digital channels 2 and delivers a strong ROI. And Waitrose is clearly onto something with its use of unusual envelope sizes – the same research found oversized envelopes achieve the highest response rate, greater than postcards, catalogues or letter-sized envelopes.

Once you’ve produced the mailing finishing plays a huge part in the success of physical mail. It’s the difference between a mailing being delivered or not: in 2015, 6.5 billion pieces of mail in the US alone were processed as Undeliverable As Addressed by the US Post Office. Finishing can be the difference between a mailing being opened and read, or going straight in the recycling bin.

Personalisation is a great finishing technique, and it works: 74% of consumers 3 in research conducted recently said that personalisation would lead them to buy relevant goods and services they hadn’t bought before. Last week, I received a brochure from an online clothing retailer. The finishing was nothing short of magnificent. Not only did it have my name printed in huge letters on the front cover, but the cover opened out and I found my name, and historic purchases, weaved into a personalised story. It took personalisation to the next level. It showed how digital technology is driving physical transformation and targeting customers in a precise, accurate and original way. And it made me consider shopping there again. Yet less than a third of business decision makers 4 say their businesses were investing significantly in personalisation, suggesting they’re missing a trick when it comes to customer engagement.

Advances in technology, and the integration of physical equipment with digital platforms, offer businesses a greater number of print finishing techniques than ever before – not just personalisation, but improved depths of colour, superior print quality, precise addressing data and security scanning, and lightning fast insertion – incorporating vouchers to redeem online or producing a Personalised URL (PURL) to offer a personalised physical and digital experience is well within the reach of many print producers and enables an integrated multichannel contact strategy.

Businesses need to make the most of these next-generation finishing techniques on offer, to deliver an omnichannel approach, to drive customer engagement, to generate revenue and achieve growth.

For those businesses not ready to invest in their own equipment, printers and mailers have a major role to play in helping them create real impact and generate growth. Their expertise and experience is second to none. Many are undergoing huge press room transformation as they invest in high-end digital finishing technologies to add impact and accuracy to their clients’ physical communication, and to improve their own productivity and efficiency.

The technologies they are investing in offer:

    • Greater levels of automation, resulting in faster runs, increased productivity and better value for clients
    • Improved inserting systems
    • Integrated software platforms to store and manage customer data safely and securely
    • Superior colour quality and consistency
    • Deeper insight into analytics thanks to SaaS-based digital platforms
    • Minimum downtime
    • Higher degrees of personalisation
    • The ability to incorporate multichannel activity

    Whether investing themselves or using printers and mailers, businesses need to leverage physical and digital technologies to maintain ongoing, valuable, relevant relationship with their customers. If they don’t, they risk being left behind. But if they do, they can become truly world-class, and generate results that reflect this.

    Join Pitney Bowes at drupa2016, May 31 – June 10 in Dusseldorf, Germany: come and see us at the Pitney Bowes press briefing on June 1 st at 1400 in Room 7A, or visit the Pitney Bowes booth, D59 in Hall 4.

    1 Campaign Live

    2 DMA Response Rate Report 2015

    3, 4

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