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By John Hankins

OPTIMIZING YOUR PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS Using digital technology to improve direct mail


n examination of the typical mailbox on any given day indicates that the direct mail industry continues to favor quantity over quality. But an examination of the marketplace indicates that this approach is under assault from both increasing costs — postal rates and other factors — and consumer expectations and generational shifts. In spite of these conflicting trends, there is good news for mailers. Not only are there a variety of tools and services available to significantly enhance the quality of direct mail; mail also continues to have the unique characteristic that every piece is viewed with human eyes. The key to success is to leverage digital tools that provide personalization and interactive content delivered via the Internet. This requires making mailpieces personally relevant to the recipient and using


the tools available to quickly and easily expand the content and message beyond print into the digital realm. In addition to leveraging these technologies, the USPS has gotten on board with a variety of incentives to promote both personalization and interactive content. A key component in linking the mailpiece to digital content is the mobile device. So an immediate challenge is, how do we get mail recipients to see the link between their mail and their mobile device? From a behavioral standpoint, it is a bit of a chicken and egg question, but the ball is clearly in the court of content development and distribution companies. There must be an expectation that a mailpiece contains a link to interactive content. This will only happen once there is widespread use of these existing and emerging technologies. Some of these technologies are presented below and represent a real opportunity for

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printers and mailers to bring more value to content owners and consumers. In addition to tools for linking the mailpiece to mobile devices, the content needs to be personalized using a VDP composition tool. Building a link to personalized digital content uses data that the mailer knows about the recipient; why not use that same data to build compelling personalized content into the mailpiece as well? But it all begins with the data. A mailing list can be built with data collected directly from customers or other microlevel activity or purchased from a list provider. In either case, there are numerous techniques available to build profiles and identify characteristics that can be used to build mailpieces with significant personal relevance. Ultimately, it’s vital to realize that good data and effective use of that data are the key building blocks to deliver-

Mailing Systems Technology March/April 2014  

Mailing Systems Technology March/April 2014

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