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Just Print? Or Multi-Channel Communications?

November 27th, 2013 - Posted by Jamie Thomson, Managing Director


Moving the conversation on from just the printed piece. Talking to your client about data is a great place to start the conversation.

As a long established print service provider you may well be producing direct mail or marketing collateral for clients on a regular basis. Your sales people may be focused purely on delivering revenues from “ink on paper”. But there is a strong argument, whilst you have the ear of the client, to begin to explore the conversation about expanding your services to other channels at the same time. If you are talking to the client’s marketing decision maker, then not having this conversation may well be a wasted opportunity.

With large blue chip organisations it is highly likely that they are already engaged in organised multi-channel campaigns, but there are a huge number of small to medium sized companies and organisations (£1million to £25 million turnover may be a good guide) that have not yet fully embraced modern marketing routes – possibly due to lack of expertise or cost constraints that existed. These barriers are now largely removed with the availability of modern multi-channel software solutions.

Talking to your client about data is a great place to start the conversation. Most marketeers well understand the increasing importance of gathering and maintaining data on their customers and prospects. This will, of course, include basic contact information in order to allow the customer to engage with direct mail offers and promotions. It may well also include a host of other information depending on the client’s product or industry. It may include customers past purchases, characteristics of purchasers, how much they spend per sale, what and when or how often they buy, what product or service they have expressed an interest in perhaps. The data may also contain details of demographics which will help to profile their likely needs and interests. Exactly what data the client holds may well be the key to presenting your multi-channel offering and a strong argument for how you can help the client increase response rates. Why? Because a multi-channel campaign allows us to target the content on a much more personalised basis driven by the data held.

With the printed piece the content is normally designed and constructed prior to the data being extracted and is decided by the overall campaign message – whereas good data allows you to construct the online content from what you know about the individual customer or prospect. We could effectively start with a “white page” and construct the message and content to engage directly with the individual. The goal being to understand the customer well enough to allow a meaningful relationship to be established across a range of channels.

So rather than talk about cross media or multi-channel for the rest of this blog – let me try and get more specific. As a Print Service Provider, what in practical terms might we offer the client and what skills would we need to use the client’s data to construct a campaign?

purl explanatory-diagram

First we can join up the printed piece with online content by using a Personalised URL (PURL) and Personalised QR code to increase response rates. PURLS which generally include the first and last name of the individual (eg encourage the prospect to engage with the promise of personalised content and create curiosity – “I wonder what content or offer they have created for me”. PURLS can be generated automatically within seconds by the PURL software from a simply CSV upload (possibly saving the client's Excel worksheet as a CSV file and uploading).

Once the PURL is clicked you can effectively track the client from that point onwards and personalise the content, the offer or promotion and engage directly with the individual via the Landing Page. It provides the opportunity for the marketer to explain on an almost one-to-one basis how well a product or service would meet his or her needs. The better the data – the potentially more personal and targeted the landing page content can be.

The PURL address can be printed on the direct mail piece and also sent via an Email. Often a campaign will include both a printed piece (or several printed pieces) and an email campaign; typically a number of “hits” over a predefined campaign period.

A landing page is a short term webpage connected to a campaign. It can also be a Permanent PURL where content can be updated over a period of time and can therefore be visited a number of times. Companies who use loyalty or membership schemes might find these particularly useful.

The landing page could also be reached via an external link from a Pay per click (PPC) advertisement (typically displayed in a Google sponsored Adword campaign) or social media platform – like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. All of these search engine or social media campaigns can be started quite easily within the administration tools of each site with a GURL link added (general landing page) and again requires no web skills.

The content within the personalised landing page could of course, depending on the quality of data, be personalised with text, imagery, movies and links which are displayed because they are likely to be interesting and relevant to the individual. The links might take the user to other personalised landing pages, further offers and promotions, or perhaps pages within a client’s existing website or online shopping site. They might even contain links to download information, coupons or vouchers for example.

Landing pages within Easypurl (a purl solution offered by RedTie) can be created without any html or web design skills from content uploaded or input directly into text and image elements within the landing page. The skill required here is simply good design which is going to engage the reader. They may also be created from a library of industry specific templates and edited by simply replacing the content with your own logo, text and images.

If the landing page has been created for lead generation, event registration or for the prospect to respond to an offer in some way, then you would usually include a Landing Page Form to capture the client’s information or preferences. The form can be pre-populated with any data we already know such as name and contact information so the user simply has to click the “submit” button. The forms can again be created by using simple drag and drop form builders or by editing existing form templates. The idea again being that no html or web skills are required.

The landing pages can be formatted to fit both desktop and mobile devices and you can vary the content depending on which device opened the link. Clever stuff.

There are other steps you can take to increase response rates by allowing users to share content (the landing page link) within their social media sites to their entire network that then generates new PURL links “on the fly” using the known data from the social media data itself. Very clever stuff!

Using a solution such as Easypurl allows you also to offer your client access to an online campaign dashboard where they can track the campaign results and responses. They can run their own campaign reports and download leads from any landing page forms submitted by the end client or prospect.

So in summary Multi-channel marketing IS now available and affordable to much smaller businesses than ever before.

Having a conversation with your client about data is a good way to understand which clients are most likely to benefit from multi-channel marketing services. The better the client data the greater the potential for you to create or facilitate winning one-to-one campaigns.

The barrier of needing html or web design skills has been removed by solutions such as Easypurl opening up cross media or multi-channel marketing as another lucrative service offering for print service providers.

The further good news is that you probably won’t need to convince your marketing decision makers about the value of multi-channel marketing, as this is an already proven route to increased response rates.

If you want to look in more detail at the Easypurl solution in the UK then please drop me a line or contact