Take control of customer engagement with the power of in-house print

By Gary Stockenstroom, Product Manager for Production Print at Canon South Africa

In a digitally saturated world, engaging customers in a meaningful way is harder than ever before. Digital communications are appealing for many businesses as they can be easily measured, are relatively cheap and are able to reach consumers wherever they are. However, to truly put customer engagement back at the heart of campaigns, businesses need to diversify.

Customers are becoming increasingly aware of how they are being targeted online, leading to growing digital fatigue. The sheer volume of digital communications is causing many to switch off and opt out; actively seeking ways to reduce their intake of online content. In fact, 42.7% of internet users globally are now using ad blockers, demonstrating that digital only campaigns are no longer enough to influence people effectively1.

In response, businesses are reassessing their communication methods and re-exploring avenues to reach both customers and prospects outside of the digital world. This is where integrating high-quality, uniquely personalised, printed materials into the communications mix can offer an opportunity to re-connect with customers and build brand loyalty.

Achieving a competitive edge through print  

Print can bring the cut through that brands are looking for in a predominantly digital environment. With the flood of emails in customer inboxes, the unique message that each tries to convey is getting lost and subsequently lacks impact. Content that flashes on and off the screen can be quickly forgotten by consumers as they are served the next advert moments later.

Print offers a promising alternative and an addition to the communication mix, which needs to be considered due to its tangibility, thus leading to improved brand recall and a higher level of information retention. The fact that it is different and tactile to the other content that customers are served means it is more likely to linger in their minds for longer. Individuals also have more control over when they choose to engage with a printed asset, which leads to a better focus on the material, unlike digital communications that are designed to be served wherever customers are online.

Seizing the “in-house” opportunity

To capitalise on the benefits printed content can provide, many organisations are turning to third parties and specialist print shops for their printing needs. In Europe, the majority of businesses outsource their colour print material2, but with operating costs rising as a result of the current economic backdrop, many will likely be looking for ways to minimise extra spend where possible.

While there are many reasons outsourcing can work and offer advantages, in-house printing offers both the benefits of increasing internal productivity, with the opportunity to boost customer engagement through the flexibility it provides.

Enhancing customer engagement

First of all, in-house printing removes all the additional time-intensive administration associated with outsourcing, such as choosing a provider, signing contracts and processing payments. More importantly, cutting lead times offers the opportunity to increase customer engagement as it helps businesses to bolster content relevancy. They can be more flexible with their communications and adapt campaigns at short notice to align to the latest trends – or capture immediate competitive opportunities as they arise.

Personalisation is also a critical way to have a longer lasting impact on individual engagement, as individuals are more likely to turn to brands that offer them a relevant and personalised experience3. With in-house print capabilities, this is easier to achieve, as businesses can change and customise documents for each individual or group at no extra cost.

Customers also value quality and with in-house capabilities this grants businesses more control over the end-product. By having a say in the devices that they choose, organisations can achieve a high-quality output consistently and can check quality regularly. With people more naturally inclined to remember poor brand experiences over good ones, this highlights the importance of getting the quality of your printed materials perfect every single time.

Bolstering internal productivity

Outsourcing print may be a short-term cost saving, however, bringing print capabilities in-house also helps to reduce operating costs well into the future. While investing in hardware requires upfront investment, it is more cost-effective long term as it removes the need to pay for external support each time a new printed asset needs to be produced. With the right technology, internal operating costs can also be streamlined through full usage visibility that helps to optimise the internal print environment.

Security is another factor that in-house printing can help to resolve. Whether preparing for a product launch or handling sensitive internal communications, investing in internal printing capabilities improves data security by keeping sensitive material within the company infrastructure. This avoids the need for external parties to have access, whilst also removing additional contract administration related to disclosure.

Striking a balance

Digital communication will always have a place in engaging customers, however, as attitudes towards online platforms are changing, digital only campaigns no longer serve all purposes. Thankfully, this does not mean businesses must choose between investing in digital and print technologies, but instead they should be seen as complimentary systems.

Print is an opportunity for businesses to increase engagement and reconnect with customers in a meaningful way. Bringing print capabilities in-house can offer internal benefits, greater control over the process from start to finish and increased flexibility.

But it’s true value lies in the ability it has in elevating communication to the next level, in a format that can provide a more creative and memorable experience that can be personalised to demonstrate the true value of the customer relationship. 


  1. Hootsuite 2022 Digital Trends Report
  2. KeyPoint Intelligence ODS Primary Research
  3. State of Personalisation Report, Twillio Segment 2022