Interactive Variable Printing Boosts Response and Loyalty

Chris Morgan, SVP of Hewlett Packard led a great session this morning on the tremendous impact of digital variable printing on customer connection and response.  He and Philip D’hooge of Symeta, full service print and document management company, shared a number of case studies with 30% or more increase in response rates.

The digital variable printing technology includes both deep personalization as well as the interactivity that you see with new types of campaigns that offer the user a chance to scan for an immediate digital experience.  I’ve seen a number of pieces at the DMA show – from exhibitors on the floor to pre-show mailings — that take advantage of this advanced technology.

In several of the examples, Chris emphasized new metrics available as a result of this approach.  “You can now measure not just cost per piece, but cost per value and impact,” he says.   For example, Robert Morris University did a student recruitment campaign with a multi touch, multi channel program that was uber personalized and featured embedded digital experiences in the print pieces using HP technologies.  The targeting was built on more than just gender or geo, but also athletic or extracurricular interests and past session behavior on the website.

The campaign featured a series of very smart calls to action like a workshop or campus visit, but the marketing doubled the response rates and earned a 79% boost in conversions. For them, the process of being more selective on content helped drive response.  So sending out less provided more.

Philip got up and addressed exactly the point that was running through my head at this point.  This all sounds great if you have access to the data, but what if you don’t?  People think that personalized communication is only for companies who know their customers very well,” Philip said. It can also work for companies that are just starting to know their customers.”

There is so much noise out there today, and breaking through is difficult. “Our customers are being exposed to 10,000+ advertising messages a day,” Philip says of his customer @ZEB jeans.  “Becoming relevant is more important than ever.”

In another great example, Philip talked about Colony markets using this approach to send out less paper and still get a higher ROI.   They reduced their weekly coupon leaflet from 32 page to 4 pages – significantly reducing printing costs.  “We send just 20-30 premiums selected just for that customer,” Philip says.  “We of course encourage customers to take advantage of the full offerings.  At home, the customer receives Selections for You leaflets and in the store they have access ot all the other offers.”  This an investment in personalization allows marketers to truly build a 1:1 relationship.

The result for Colony is that loyalty as well as transactional response rates went up.  Customers who feel understood and valued will be more loyal.

While this technology is proven and scalable – and available to most marketers — both Philip and Chris advise that you should always use the right technology in the right way. “Don’t bother to use the technology if you don’t want to know the customer,” Philip says.

“Selectivity provides opportunity,”  Chris says.  Use this technology and approach to bring down the size of the mailing as well as increase impact and response due to personalization.


-Stephanie Miller, VP, Member Relations, The DMA


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