When we think marketing innovation and interactivity, we often think about the world of electronic media. In bits and bytes, imagination can run wild. Perhaps that’s why it can surprise us when we look at all of the groundbreaking things print can do.
Here are the top ways print (and specifically digital print) has fundamentally changed, and continues to change, not only its own form but also its relationship to other media.
- Cross-platform precision. It used to be that when something was printed digitally, the difference was visible to the human eye. No more. Digital and offset are virtually indistinguishable from one another. This translates into consistent visual identity regardless of run length. This was unheard of even a few years ago. Who could have imagined that you could put your long-run direct mail next to your short-run, segmented brochures printed for a trade show next to your in-store signage and the color and visual appearance would be identical? Digital print gives you unparalleled marketing flexibility and ability to manage costs.
- Unlimited color creativity. Did you know that digital can produce spot colors and metallics? If you can print it offset, you can match it with digital. Recent advances in hardware, software, inks, and substrates have unleashed tremendous creative freedom and cross-platform flexibility.
- Online and mobile activity driver. When you think about online marketing and mobile, think print. The USPS recently reported that 93% of online responses are driven by direct mail, and because mobile numbers cannot be purchased, print is one of the primary ways to gather phone numbers for mobile campaigns. Digital, personalized direct mail has also become critical to reactivating customers who have disengaged from email. Years ago, when email and online marketing promised the death of print, no one imagined that print would be indispensible to online and mobile marketing, yet that’s exactly what has happened.
- Dimensional power. Print isn’t flat anymore. With digital print, dimensional mailers (pop-up boxes, sliding panels, hidden fold-outs) can be produced cost-effectively even in short runs. With new technologies like Scodix SENSE™, you can also create raised effects so dramatic that you can see them at a distance. Create textured effects up to 250 microns, giving life and depth to printed images that you have to see to believe.
- Interactivity in print. Print has become one of the most interactive channels in marketing today. QR Codes, augmented reality, virtual reality, embedded video and USB drives enable interaction unimaginable even a few years ago. Scan your phone over a direct mail piece, label, or product package and watch images, characters, video, and other content come to life. Interact with it, respond to it, and share it with others. With digital, you don’t have to print 10,000 pieces. You can benefit from these technologies in print runs within your budget.
Of course, there is the multichannel integration, ability to create more targeted and personalized communications, and many other trends in digital print. But these five offer some of the biggest changes in recent marketing history and some of the biggest opportunities for growth and experimentation in the coming year.
How do you see these changes in print technology affecting your business? Share your thoughts.