Print Production Spotlight: Defining Print’s Role in Modern Direct Marketing

An Internet information company seeking to boost response rates and drive traffic to its website was reluctant to use direct mail. After the campaign generated so-so results in numerous online channels, however, a direct mail test produced the highest response rates and the most stickiness of any medium they used—even for the coveted new-media generation of 18- to 35-year-olds.
The moral: “Sometimes you find a role for print in the areas you least expect it,” says Matthew Downey, vice president, Anderson Direct Marketing, agency to the aforementioned Internet information company.

Many marketers still have high expectations for printed direct mail. The Winterberry Group projects spending on direct mail to increase 5.8 percent in 2011 to $47 billion dollars, more than any other direct or digital advertising category. This would be the second consecutive year of growth, following three years of decline.

“Print is alive because you can create an integrated mix that is relevant to the person you’re targeting,” says Alan Scott, member of the CMO Council Advisory Board and former senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Enterprise Media Group, Dow Jones and Co. “Print plays a vital role, but it’s different than it used to be.”

Print Is in the Mix
The mean number of media used in today’s direct marketing campaigns is three, according to market research and strategic consulting firm InfoTrends. A recent test conducted by the Xerox 1:1 Lab demonstrated the role that relevant, personalized print can play in these campaigns.

The 1:1 Lab program runs tests comparing the results from a traditional direct mail campaign to the same campaign with customized messaging that is relevant to each recipient. In tests run in multiple industry vertical markets, the customized messaging has consistently delivered positive results. Highly regarded direct mail leader Reader’s Digest Canada as much as doubled response rates with a more personalized approach.

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