By Reg Bath, Chief Executive Officer: Technology at InsideData Group
Success for your business in a tough economic environment requires knowing your market better than ever. This means understanding customers’ needs across all touchpoints and enhancing the customer journey as much as possible to win and retain clients.
The way businesses engage with their markets has become a key differentiator in the digital age, where all the rules have yet to be written. Digitalisation has forced all businesses to rethink their customer engagement strategies, especially in terms of the blend of communications and marketing media to use in speaking to the market.
While most touchpoints have migrated online, certain printed elements of an engagement and communication strategy will remain in place for years to come. That does not mean the world of print stays the same, however.
The continuous digital evolution even impacts on print technology. Innovative print technology to improve print security, quality and speed of printed matter all contributes to the customer’s experience, with today’s fourth-generation digital inkjet printers offering data-driven personalisation, embedded technology and colour-enhanced printed matter on-demand.
Creative customer journey and experience
Where, how, when, and why does printing fit within your customer’s journey or the customer experience? Mapping your customer experience (CX) from beginning to end will enable you to determine where you can be creative with print, offering more than simple text and a white page in your business’s CX.
You will be surprised about the touchpoints available that you have never considered part the customer journey. A range of mapping tools are available to assist businesses to not only map the journey but monitor and measure the actual engagement at each touchpoint.
Pay attention to the end-to-end experience customers have with your business instead of focusing on individual interaction touchpoints – the whole customer journey is important. Once you have mapped your journey and identified touchpoints, it is important to consider strategic ways of how you can improve your customer experience across touchpoints.
Personalisation of books, manuals, transactional printed matter, augmented reality (AR) embedded QR codes in printed statements, posters or newsletters and other branded collateral linked to a video message or promotion, as well as attention-grabbing branded stationary, collateral, and display material are some examples of enhanced print touchpoints that can ensure a great customer experience.
The creative options with todays on-demand digital printing to add an element of surprise and excitement addressing customer senses are almost endless.
First impressions last, so embrace the future with cutting-edge print
The continuous battle for customer attention requires businesses to reinvent first impressions. Once a prospect is converted into a customer it is crucial to pursue retention through consistent, out-of-the box, engaging journeys.
Digital disruptive innovations are an integral part of our modern-day customer experiences and print is inescapable: it’s the colourful embedded QR coded promotional material (posters, brochures etc.) in your office and shop, your personalised direct mailer newsletter, the manual, magazine or printed book with integrated AR. Your success story lies within how you convert these first impressions into lasting experiences and retained clients.
The same but different on-demand printed matter
Marketing teams, brand owners and their agencies are expecting – even demanding – more personalisation and late-stage customisation of print. The “now” generation does not want to wait; they expect agile, flexible solutions that deliver on-demand. Moreover, as “data” becomes the backbone of Industry 4.0, digital printing and inkjet will by its nature cope with this new reality, so whatever is printed can be all the same but also can be all different.
COVID-19 affected the printing industry like all others – we are witnessing major shifts in print as we know it. We’ve seen a major shift from offset print to digital as market needs change to print-on-demand and shorter print runs. Another trend that we experienced first-hand is the rapid rise in on-demand, short-run book printing on low-maintenance and cost-effective digital inkjet printers.
The print industry will continue to evolve with enhanced technology, innovative software, quality and ease of use, lowered production costs and improved security to address the ever-changing consumer demands and needs.
It is important that businesses do not forget that print is an integral part of customer engagement along the customer journey. Print offers a blank canvas and the opportunity to create different variants of these print touchpoints, utilising the innovations print offers to enhance the customer experience.
‘It is difficult to go above and beyond as opposed to using the old form. And, with print, you generally have an opportunity that is personalisation. So, you can create an opportunity for your customers and give the necessary present-day contact. Tools like custom publication printing, item architect devices, customised flyers, will give your print marketing that competitive edge.’ – Vivek Ghai