In 2018, I wrote about a new generation of print buyers with different customer expectations than the previous generation. They value the customer experience – which includes how a company communicates and engages – more than pricing and features.
Greatly accelerated by the forces of the pandemic, this still hold true three years later. Mass digitalization and adoption of an online shopping mindset have resulted in fewer communications channels between brand and buyer. It’s no wonder that millennials – today’s buyers – prefer print over digital. Jockeying for buyer attention has led to digital fatigue. The ability to communicate and engage with customers throughout their buying journey has become more critical in order for brands to deliver effective, valuable customer experiences.
Over this past year, three trends stood out that illustrate a shift from the traditional “print is a commodity” mindset to print as a high-value communications channel. Embracing this mindset , PSPs are altering their go-to-market strategies, adding value beyond print, and delivering better customer experiences.
The Boom of Direct Mail and Interactive Print
The first noticeable communications trend is the increased use of direct mail, due largely to the pandemic. With most people staying home and spending more time online, direct mail has become a great way to reach buyers away from their keyboards. Integrating direct mail with digital campaigns is better at driving consumer action than using only one. Combined, the results are roughly 39% more attention retention, 10% more brand awareness and 5% more interest in the brand messaging.
The Convergence of Transactional Print and Direct Mail
A critical component included in the customer experience is the omnichannel expectation of today’s generation of print and business buyers. Heavily influenced by the consumer hats they wear, they expect to interact and/or purchase at anytime, from anywhere, using any device – even their watch. Providing a quality and uniform omnichannel experience that seamlessly blends the offline physical world with an online digital one increases brand awareness, loyalty and excellence.
Inherent to transactional print is understanding the nuances of working with, and understanding, vast amounts of variable, personal and highly regulated data. In essence, transactional communicators “get it.” Salutations, naming conventions, logos and taglines all leave an impact on the customer experience – however subtle, positive or negative. Direct mailers who recognize the market opportunity are tapping into the mindset (and mechanics) of the transactional print space. The result is a more fluid and engaging experience for buyers, with value-based communications that involve understanding what the buyer needs – and how to suffice those needs.
The Importance of Workflow and Automation
The third communication trend has to do with intra-business communications – wherein all the systems that help your business function, communicate with each other to provide you with the real-time data insights and dashboards you need to make smart business decisions. This includes your CRM, MIS, W2P, marketing and/or sales automation platforms, analytics engines and so on. While each of these systems has a different function, the better the data, the better they can communicate that data among one another.
When systems like CRM and MIS communicate data with each other, the points where engagement is most needed can be automatically flagged, or entirely automated. These triggers and alerts can be set for notification of inventory levels, equipment malfunctions and even customer communications. The ability to automate marketing and communications has become integral in delivering a comprehensive omni-channel experience that encompasses digital, social and even print touchpoints throughout the customer journey.
Shifting from Commodity to Communications
These trends illustrate a transition away from print as a commodity, towards one that establishes print as a high-value, touch-oriented communication channel – and the perfect complement to digital acquisition strategies. Moving toward a customer experience management (CXM) mindset helps the print industry position itself as a communications channel, primed to deliver the experience that today’s buyers expect. Further, it shows an incredible adaptability and capacity to innovate not only products, but the nature of the print industry itself.
#JGC4B2B #Marketing #Print #Sales #LeadGen #CX #CustomerExperience