Alphagraphics blog

Archive: June 2016

The Value of Web-to-Print Online Ordering

Printing is an inherently physical business—meaning there will always need to be a press and some sort of tangible material to get the job done. But there are some aspects of printing that have definitely reaped the benefit of digital technologies, including the way many print providers are communicating with customers. We’re talking, of course, about web-to-print portals and the revolutionary way by which they’ve served to streamline nearly every facet of the printing process! Ordering, proofing and prepping, made easy Digital technology in the form of a web-to-print portal has effectively consolidated the print prep process into a real-time, nearly instantaneous workflow. As a result, some of the biggest hurdles in the print process are absolved right from the get-go, including:
  • With the ability to create approval workflows, web-to-print offers an immersive, collaborative experience for buyer and printer alike. Customers can submit a design, printers can proof it, and customers can then approve it quickly, expediting a timeline that might otherwise require a more extensive degree of back and forth communication.
  • Ordering from scratch is also made simple! Printers can create online storefronts with basic, customizable options, providing a foundation for creation that’s quicker and more affordable for customers than creating something from scratch or hiring a designer.
  • Within the web-to-print environment, sharing materials and print collateral is made easy via cloud uploading and collaboration. Again, extensive back and forth is eliminated, getting the project to the print floor quicker and with fewer opportunities for error.
Keep in mind, this is still only value added at the order stage of the print process! A functional web-to-print portal goes beyond just facilitating efficiency after an order is placed. Generating sales and prompting leads As a printer, being able to offer a web-to-print portal as a sales tool means creating accessibility that prompts inquiries and generates leads. Consider the following benefits:
  • Customers looking for a quick, non-committal quote can submit a small amount of information through the portal, which opens up a dialog with the printer. Quotes and pricing can be exchanged, with the opportunity to create a conversion through this passive sales channel.
  • Web-to-print environments present the allure of modernization. Being accessible online, where a majority of business is done, is appealing to potential customers who want an upfront guarantee of effectiveness and efficiency.
  • For printers, inquiries through the web-to-print portal can be handled accordingly via workflow automation. For example, an inquiry regarding large format POP materials may be directed to one person specifically within the business—leads can automatically be sent to that person through the web-to-print portal.
Saving time and money through efficiency Perhaps the most critical value a web-to-print portal provides is that of cost-saving efficiency, for both the printer and the customer. In creating a system of checks and balances, while simultaneously eliminating errors and waste, the savings on a per-job basis can become prolific for both sides:
  • In proofing projects throughout the duration of the workflow, as prompted by the portal’s built-in checks and balances, printers can ensure the final job going to print is perfect, minimizing re-print potential due to poor proofing.
  • Customers can submit collateral through the web portal, saving them the time of having to send multiple emails or navigate through various links to online repositories. This also expedites the job by giving printers instant access to necessary files throughout the duration of the job.
  • The organization and structure of a web-to-print portal means minimizing lost collateral, misplaced files or erratic email chains. These things all cost time and money to resolve.
Value that cannot be ignored With benefits at every stage of the customer-to-print process, the value of a web-to-print portal cannot be ignored by modern print providers. From capturing leads and providing quotes, to gathering collateral and communicating feedback, to proofing and finally printing: web-to-print is changing the way people get their final print materials. And while printing will always be a physical process at its core, the path to the press is more digital than ever before. Read article →
June 20 / 2016
Author admin
Category Web-to-Print
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The Rejuvenation and Benefits of EDDM Marketing

When’s the last time your small business sent out a physical piece of mail to customers? Chances are, it wasn’t very recently. In fact, just about the only companies who have gone out of their way to keep direct mail part of their core marketing group are Fortune 500s! Why? Because for many small businesses, email serves the same purpose and can be accomplished for cheaper, if not free. Email marketing touts a lot of benefits that direct mail does not, however it also has one major drawback that’s often not considered: it can be trashed without even being looked at. Recipients can take one look at the sender’s name and know in an instant if they want to read it or dispose of it without even opening the message. In this way, email marketing can be instantly ineffective. Not coincidentally, the major weakness of email is the same reason that, for the first time in nearly a decade, direct mail is resurging as a viable marketing option for small businesses. More specifically, the option of Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) via the United States Postal Service (USPS). Junk mail? Think again! The idea of “junk mail” is something that has long been a burden on direct mail campaigns. Since the 80s and especially in the 90s, direct mail advertising was the premier way to put your marketing message in front of customers. As a result, far too many companies jockeyed for face time through the mailbox, leading to mountains of advertisements that simply became fodder for the trash. Simply put: consumers became trained to discard any mail that even hinted at an advertisement! Today, however, junk mail is far less prolific and more often than not, the advertisements in our mailboxes are from companies we subscribe to, regarding products we’re generally interested in. As a result, we spend a few more crucial seconds looking at mail before we decide what to do with it. Conversely, email not contains the majority of our junk mail. The bottom line is that direct mail advertising is primed for a comeback (and already reinventing itself!), with the caveat that marketers need to learn from the mistakes of past decades. Some of these hard lessons learned include:
  • Creating a clear, concise and feasible call to action. Today, incorporating websites, QR codes and individualized codes are made possible through smartphones.
  • Using variable printing to engage customers right from the get-go. “Our neighbor” or “valued customer” might seem like nice salutations, but they remind customers they’re not being viewed as an individual, just as a member of your marketing demographic.
  • Running multiple campaigns or the same campaign within too short of a window will put you on the shortlist to the trash can. Space your campaigns and re-tool them appropriately.
Blanketing the field Understanding the history of direct mail and the potential possibilities that it now presents is only one half of the puzzle in reestablishing this core component of your small business’ marketing scheme. The second half is distributing your mail effectively. This is where EDDM campaigns have proven to be an innovative step forward for direct mail. They allow you to:
  • Map a specific distribution area for your campaign, which helps you define your geographic service area on a more refined level.
  • Control your mailer drop rates, to ensure you’re not overloading recipients with too-frequent advertisement campaigns.
  • Gauge the cost of your specific campaign based on drop area and frequency.
Using a more targeted and refined approach to direct mail distribution through EDDM means giving your small business a better shot at ending up in the mailbox of someone who, at the very least, will take the time to glance at your mailer to see if the information it contains applies to them. The obvious last step is to make sure you’re presenting a message, promotion or call to action that will grab the attention of the reader. The depends entirely on your marketing focus and your message. The opportunity is in place, the distribution method is there; with the right message and campaign, you could find that your direct mail holds a coveted spot in the hands of a reader who isn’t just throwing it away. Read article →
June 08 / 2016
Author admin
Category Direct Marketing
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