an online conversation
about design management

Data + creative print = response

A few weeks ago Carol received an envelope with one pink glove in it. A hand written message on a swing tag said, “Carol, there’s no harm in a warm handshake”. On the reverse it said “I will call to explain.”

Carol was intrigued and so when she received a call from a chap announcing himself as, “I sent you a glove in the mail”, she took the call.

He was doing lead generation for a video production company and claimed a 100% success rate at getting to talk to recipients. He said he had an 80% success rate in getting appointments for the video production company owner.

On the other hand Carol gets dozens of email sales pitches each day which largely go unopened.

When I recently read that USA research by Winterberry Group shows that direct mail spending will continue to grow in 2015 to a $45.7 billion market, I could fully understand why.

The answer seems to be in using digital data matched with creative print material to get results.

Digital printing enables personalised direct mail pieces through the use of variable data such as name, gender, location, preferred products, buying habits, current stage in the customer journey, etc.

With this type of personalisation available, designers can deliver the right message to the right person and at the right time — in print.

It’s been proven that personalised marketing messages outperform standard messages:

  • Personalised color direct mail was found to generate a 6.5 percent response rate, three times higher than the usual 2 percent response rate that occurs with non-personalised direct mail (Melissa Data).
  • When compared to static direct mail pieces, personalised direct mail pieces yielded a 24.5 percent increase in conversion, 31.6 percent overall profit increase, 36 percent increase in response rate, and a 48 percent increase in repeat orders (InfoTrends/Cap Ventures).

The added advantage is that digital print helps brands become “multichannel” through the use of techniques that belong to digital alone, such as personalised URLs (PURLs) and QR codes, which allow digital print to continue to drive higher response rates in marketing campaigns across channels.

This allows you to link print to the web so that content, and your relationships with customers, remains fresh.

The recent addition of flatbed digital presses that can print onto any medium (glass, corrugated iron, wood, metal etc) also opens up the potential for innovative direct marketing campaigns.

This was the case with a direct mail campaign to gain new customers for BankWest. Host, Bankwest's creative agency, suggested an integrated campaign with a strong direct mail element.

"To cut through the clutter and grab attention, we chose to use a dimensional mail pack. It delivered a serious message, while leveraging the spirit of 'happy banking', and was a great way of bringing the campaign to life."
- Roger Hayes, Senior Account Manager at Host

Bankwest achieved 275 leads - a 7% response rate. Of these, 13% converted to applications, which was 30 % above target.

Done right, technology like this can bring some of the targeting capabilities of digital to higher impact, readily opened and read, direct mail.

Want to learn more about how design for print is growing?

There are methods to grow your studio by selling more print to existing and new clients. The Design Business Council has teamed up with BJ Ball Paper to present the Selling more design for print workshops. Read more about the program here.


Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed a series of business tools to help designers manage their business better along with a series of workshops that show designers how to use these tools.