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By Mike Porter
LET’S TALK ABOUT ENVELOPES
n today's hyper-personalized communications environment, the lowly envelope's status is improving. Thanks to technological developments, mailers are no longer locked into a narrow range of choices. They can now create envelopes that contribute to the effectiveness of the mail pieces they encase, offer greater returns for their customers, and generate a new source of revenue for themselves. Dynamic Envelope Printing Most mailers continue with traditional preprinted single window envelopes. For some, the double-window variety allows them to use the same material across many applications. A few, however, have discovered that advances in inkjet technologies and document integrity controls make it possible to offer their customers something different. High-quality envelope printing solutions are available from many hardware vendors. With varying levels of speed, intelligence, and functionality, envelope printing solutions can allow mailers to reduce their inventories of custom envelopes or even abandon window envelopes entirely. Customer Interest in Envelope Printing Full-color inkjet envelope printing makes it possible to create mail that is more valuable to customers. Any organization that helps clients achieve their objectives instead of just providing an easily sourced service creates opportunity. By showing customers how to connect envelope messaging to their marketing goals, service providers can expand business relationships with their clientele. Customers regard traditional mailing products as commodities. When a service provider generates the same mail delivered in the same envelopes offered by the competition, it drives down the provider’s profits and makes customer loyalty difficult to maintain. With many companies looking to digital delivery as their first choice, mail service providers 12
MARCH-APRIL 2017 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
Possibilities for adding prompt, targeted, and personalized elements to a highly visible but generally ignored area of a mail piece are limited only by imagination and data availability. must sell their customers on the concept that mail offers value worthy of the cost. Variable envelope printing is one way for service providers to make that argument while separating themselves from competitors. Dynamic envelope print devices image each envelope with messages and graphics connected to recipient-specific offers described in the mail piece, communicate urgency, or raise curiosity. Unlike special orders for pre-printed envelopes, messages printed at production time can be very timely. Is there an extended polar cold front on the way? Heating oil companies may want to recommend customers top off their tanks. Did a local emergency create an urgent need for blood donors of a particular blood type? Print the plea in red, right on the envelope where recipients will see it at once, along with a map to the nearest donation site. Possibilities for adding prompt, targeted, and personalized elements to a highly visible but generally ignored area of a mail piece are limited only by imagination and data availability. Studies have shown that relevance, personalization, and color affect response rates and order sizes. Customers will appreciate the value these elements add to their campaigns.
Is Envelope Printing Right for You? The justification for adding full-color envelope printing to a mail production workflow may be different for each company. It depends on the size of the operation, the mix of production jobs, printing platforms, and the competitive environment. Here are some benefits a print/mail service provider or their customers may enjoy from dynamic envelope printing: Less money tied up in custom envelope inventory No waste due to obsolescence or expired shelf life Increased open and response rates Occupy fewer square feet of warehouse space Reduced time and resources dedicated to staging and stock movement Larger envelope orders, enabling attractive services such as just-in-time delivery and better pricing No rush charges when unexpected shortages occur Ability to merge small inserting jobs into larger, more efficiently processing units of work Avoid material staging errors