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One-to-One Printing -- Where Are the Repeat Jobs?

March 2009 By Heidi Tolliver-Nigro
THERE IS no question that one-to-one (personalized) digital printing works. Just skim through the case study archives of the Print On Demand Initiative (PODi). Click through the case studies on vendor and printer sites. Read the articles and the blog posts. View the Webinars. Proof that variable data printing (VDP) works is everywhere. 

No wonder. The industry is neck-deep in tools to help sell these applications. There are templates for personalized printing jobs and client presentations. Training tools through the S3 Council. Consultants. Every digital press and software vendor offers templates and customer training programs. 

Digital printers are selling these one-to-one applications. Clients get results. Applications get written up all over the trade media. Yet, when you go back and look up even extremely successful VDP applications—say, a retailer gets a 38 percent response rate to a holiday promotion—more often than not, these applications are not repeated. 

This raises a puzzling question. If one-to-one digital printing programs are so successful, why aren’t more clients repeating them? There are always individual cases. One software manufacturer, for example, used one-to-one printing to jumpstart its cross-selling program, and was so successful after two campaigns that it no longer needs the program. Or a printer developed a highly successful VDP application for a vertical market that has since taken a body blow.

But what are the broader reasons? 

1| Clients do not follow up and verify results. Too many customers do no track the results of their programs. When the sales come in, they get blended with the sales from all of their marketing efforts—which they aren’t tracking, either. Consequently, it’s impossible to tell what role one-to-one printing played.

If you don’t have proof that personalization is giving you a greater return on your investment, why bother repeating it? Many clients don’t. 

2| When clients do measure results, they track response rates, but nothing else. As an industry, we’ve grown used to talking about response rates, but response rates don’t always mean much when it comes to ROI. What was the conversion rate on the back end? What was the dollar volume of sales generated by each customer? What was the ROI of the entire campaign?

Unless the client is connecting its response rate to the revenue generated or another meaningful metric, the response rate itself makes for great case studies, but has little value in justifying future targeted marketing efforts. 

 

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