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The Future of Direct Mail is Digital

Posted by Ron Jacobs on March 6, 2020

This week, I delivered a keynote at the Hewlett Packard (HP) Innovation Center in San Diego, California. The title of my presentation was “Data, Disruption and Decisions. Reinventing the way people, machines and insights work together.” One of the main topics of the presentation was “A New Digital Marketing Channel. Direct Mail.” Direct mail, new? Digital? Isn’t direct mail a 20th century analog channel?

Modern marketing is nothing like the practice of marketing just a few years ago. It’s more data-driven, focused and relevant. Digital marketers have had the ability to use variable data in email, landing pages and websites for years. It was a little harder for direct mail to have same level of relevancy and focus. Toner-based solutions (laser printers) also enable variable data printing. But direct mail produced on toner-based systems is slow, expensive and has limited formats.   

With the advent of high-resolution, four-color, fast production inkjet technology, direct mail now is just as digital and variable as other “digital” channels. Add QR codes, PURLS (personalized URLs), augmented reality and near field communications, and suddenly data-driven direct mail communications read, look and respond like other digital email and messaging communications. It complements digital channels in a world where a single touchpoint no longer captures users’ engagement.

Direct mail now supports other digital channels as part of a strong Opti-channel marketing program. Incorporate variable data from online and offline behavior, intent, context, recommendations, purchase history, etc., and data-driven, production inkjet direct mail becomes a highly relevant, hyper-personalized channel. Add to that great direct mail design, copy that tells a compelling marketing story, an irresistible offer, a strong call to action, and you have the elements of amazing customer engagement. Customer engagement and interest lead to response, better business outcomes and increased marketing return on investment.

The reason for the event was the pre-release of the new HP PageWide T250 HD Production Inkjet Press. This versatile new press features a High Definition Nozzle Architecture that has a high-speed mode capable of producing 100,000 postcards per hour. The HP T250 HD also has a high-quality mode. When combined with a new line of HP Brilliant Inks, it produces a rich spectrum of colors, from deep reds to dazzling blues. The HP T250 HD can print on coated and uncoated paper stocks of various weights. This new press has outstanding print quality, higher productivity, wide versatility and works in numerous formats. The HP T250 HD is a reliable press for creating variable data direct mail packages, in-line. 

Speaking with printing company executives who attended the event I confirmed something that I have sensed for some time. Commercial and production inkjet printing is now reaching a speed, quality and price tipping point vs. traditional offset printing. This enables organizations to send 100% variable data printed direct mail, providing the same kind of outputs and measurable insights as email, websites, video, messaging and other digital channels. So now, the most relevant messaging can be put in front of each customer across channels.

Relevant, hyper-personalized, economical, digital direct mail. That something that all organizations should test, try and use. When companies like HP release products that help marketers to revolutionize and transform direct mail, I will be out there talking about them.

Here is some more information: 

HP’s Leading 22” web press in the PageWide Series is now even better than ever

HP to Launch New PageWide T250 HD Inkjet Web Press at drupa 2020


Topics: Direct Marketing

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