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Tech Buzz

Crossmedia

With crossmedia becoming a bigger and more important part of the industry, Catherine Carter investigates how this technology can become part of a printer’s DNA and help them expand their business portfolios

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Communication evolution

QR codes, augmented reality and near field communication (NFC) are some of the creative technologies increasingly being incorporated into print directing users to online content. At first glance, offering these crossmedia avenues may seem counter-intuitive for printers however, targeted marketing is thought to improve response rates from the 1 to 2 percent traditionally experienced by direct mail. Unfortunately there are no comprehensive statistics, but there are many anecdotal examples such as Hearst Magazines, which rebuilt its marketing database, reaching 87 million adults, to create a 200 percent return on investment and 25 percent lift in direct mail response.

In fact, for those with comprehensive databases, the ability to send content to a range of crossmedia possibilities include dynamic brochures that highlight products where the latest upgrades can be viewed online or links to videos providing much more in depth information. Then there is the engagement of people with brands such as BP and Lloyds using QR codes during the Olympics to create interactivity, or promotions like Nestle’s largest UK NFC-enabled out-of-home (OOH) campaign. It involves six chocolate bars being fitted with a GPS tracker, with instructions to activate the device to win a £10,000 prize. As part of the campaign, 3,000 OOH 6 sheets have been fitted with NFC/QR touchpoints that will direct users to live updates for the competition, and the opportunity to enter a secondary competition with an on-pack code via Facebook. The campaign sees Porterscape, working in conjunction with Mindshare, JWT and Pragmatica, JCDecaux, Clear Channel and Primesight.


Flexible friend

 


Not every NFC application is so ambitious as Moo.com is demonstrating with its business cards. They contain a tiny microchip and antenna embedded inside the paper that can transmit data to an NFC-ready mobile phone. It is an extension of technologies already regularly used by travel passes, door entry systems, as well as debit and credit cards, and with UK smartphone adoption at 50 percent—according to comScore—there is a great deal of potential. The initiative will be rolled out early next year, but until then 150,000 customers will be able to participate in a free open beta test. Currently Moo is providing the chips with data but they can be rewritten, and an app for Android will be launched soon allowing updates weeks and months later. 

The business world is constantly evolving and adopting new technologies that streamline communication, and we believe the digital printing market should adapt to bridge the gap between online and offline identities

“With the NFC cards, and Moo’s recent acquisition of Flavors.me, a design led personal identity site, Moo is showing their commitment to expanding online personal and professional identity creation,” explains Moo.com founder and chief executive officer, Richard Moross, who adds: “Our goal is to allow businesses to expand possibilities of face-to-face networking to include their digital identities. The business world is constantly evolving and adopting new technologies that streamline communication, and we believe the digital printing market should adapt to bridge the gap between online and offline identities.” 

Identifying the most effective communication route is essential, particularly when you consider recent Pitney Bowes research that pointed to falling open rates when email was the only contact point with consumers. In fact, 89 percent of respondents said monthly emails were obtrusive—relevant targeted mails were preferred.


Recapturing results

 

This is something managing director of Precision Printing, Gary Peeling, has been helping customers overcome. He detailed a successful campaign with an on-line photo provider where over 50,000 customers had opted out of email marketing and were no longer using the service from them. Precision created a personalised postcard and purl response with a promotional offer for the lapsed base. The result was recaptured updated details and a marketing opt in from 23 percent. of that lapsed base. 


“How many other on-line brands have a similar issue? As we all try to take control of our inbox clutter, restraint and quality of communications are likely to be the principles that keep customers subscribed,” explains Peeling.

Precision has just begun beta testing HP’s new B2 Indigo 10000 and it is expected to respond to demand for the digital production of popular formats such as 6pp A4 products, pocket folders and self-mailers along with new photo products, such as A2 calendars. It will also help the company in its creation of an effective crossmedia mix. Peeling explains that as the crossmedia space is nature broad and undefined in terms of scope, Precision focuses on working to develop solutions that allow its core product printing to integrate and add value more seamlessly in the multi-channel space, and to be able to use physical media in shorter runs and on-demand.  

Crossmedia is all about dialogue and enabling response in a measurable fashion. For our customers it means their data gets in better shape, they learn more about their customers and can use the most effective channel for each market and service

“We can create the email, purl and other links, but we can just as readily play along with other providers. We realise we won’t be able to offer all channels all the time—the options are developing too fast. A lot of customers run their own email marketing and purls so being able to add print follow ups into their systems is also important,” says Peeling.

After investing in digital printing, the core skills like data management, personalisation, print-on-demand and a basic understanding of marketing principles provide a sound platform to move into crossmedia support. 

“Crossmedia is all about dialogue and enabling response in a measurable fashion. For our customers it means their data gets in better shape, they learn more about their customers and can use the most effective channel for each market and service,” adds Peeling. 

Vital elements in a successful crossmedia campaign are using the right channel for the right campaign, as Peeling expands: “Print is a medium which people react emotionally to and are likely to browses. It also now communicates a premium, which is often useful. Email, augmented reality links and purls provide a much easier route for dialogue. Response research shows the best number of channels to use in a campaign is three, the trick is which three and that changes depending on the campaign.”


Diligent about data

 


Proco’s marketing manager, Claire Knox, agrees: “One element will almost always lead; it is important that you know what value each channel has in getting closer to your target audience without wasting time on those that yield little return on your marketing investment.”

She also points out a successful campaign is only as good as the data it -s based on, and the secret to improving data is to learn from what the end-customer is saying. All the information received should be managed back into the database to constantly improve relevance and campaign activity. A surefooted plan with clear objectives and goals from the start—so the results can be measured and crucially refined for future activity—is key as, are the old-fashioned principles of what makes a good campaign. 

In addition to print and direct mail, Proco has developed comprehensive web-to-print and cross platform capabilities for targeted communications, and bespoke, online workflow management tools to deliver greater responsiveness and collaboration for complex multiple media channel projects. It also created its own ‘Helpies’ campaign to demonstrate its crossmedia services. It incorporated a host of activities from personalised direct mail flyers, booklets, teaser emails, a dedicated microsite and a teaser movie to social media activity, businesses telephone hold messages and a ‘Helpie and Safety’ questionnaire, which captured information. So successful, it was awarded for Creative Brilliance at the Direct Marketing Association Honours Awards and received the coveted British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) Excellence Award for Marketing. 

We acknowledge that the world is changing and that print, over time, will diminish as readers consume more content online

Aside from developing campaigns, crossmedia can also be used to help customers effectively develop their offering. This was the aim behind Pensord’s development of Pensord CMS, a low cost, low resource, cloud-based system that allows publishers of any size to enter content once and provide the best possible reading experience, be it on iPad, Android tablet, desktop, iPhone or other smartphone devices. Template driven, Pensord CMS also uses the latest open source technology to render content quickly and efficiently to any device

“We acknowledge that the world is changing and that print, over time, will diminish as readers consume more content online,” states managing director, Darren Coxon, who adds:“However, in much the same way as radio has sustained its market position since the development of television, we see that the printed magazine will always have a place. We believe that online delivery of content should be entirely complementary to print.” 


New strategy

 

Alan Bunter, Remous director, added a Ricoh ProC901 graphic arts edition colour press to help it meet customer demand for crossmedia and variable data services. He believes crossmedia is becoming a more important part of print and says the firm is working to cater for this changing environment.


“Customers always seem to get a warm feeling when you can offer personalisation to mailshots, not sure why as it has been around for so long, but one client uses it to add calls to action, last order date and business type to their campaigns and it seems to work well—especially when combined with the QR code to the particular offer on the website. We are now working hard to develop the seamless crossover between mailpieces, our websites and social media campaigns to create an all-encompassing marketing strategy. This is proving to be a slow and sometimes expensive process. Old data is the scourge of marketing, but unfortunately we all have it, and it takes a lot of work to weed it out. People often cannot be bothered to answer questions about information, such as contact details, to update the database.”

A real danger with crossmedia is too much focus on the medium while the message is overlooked. Execution has to be spot on, that includes the quality of print, meeting all the various joined up deadlines and sticking to budget

So, what should you use crossmedia for and what should you avoid doing? Peeling says that printers should not use crossmedia just for the sake of it: “To simply push a message with little need for response or data gathering, then just use print—direct mail open rates are at a high since tracking began in 2005. Don’t talk to customers about what the technology makes possible in a list of options, ask them what they are trying to achieve and select the best channels to achieve their goals as a complete solution. If you hand them the menu of options, they will never order.”

Knox also counsels: “A real danger with crossmedia is too much focus on the medium while the message is overlooked. Execution has to be spot on, that includes the quality of print, meeting all the various joined up deadlines and sticking to budget.”

But Knox is also optimistic about the future of the technology, concluding: “The time has come for crossmedia to truly flourish. Print buyers want to feel comfortable about service levels, efficiency and productivity. Meanwhile, the procurement department wants accountability, cost saving and justification.”

Are your solutions able to provide all of these to help customers make the most of crossmedia and all the communication avenues it can open up? If so, as Knox says, perhaps you can flourish too.



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