Why Choose Inkjet for Customer Communications?
Digital account statements and other kinds of electronic customer communication have now become the norm for industries like banking, utilities, healthcare, cable, and more. And this certainly makes sense for these industries, given cost increases in postage and the difficulty in sourcing materials like paper and ink.
However, a large percentage of consumers still prefer print customer communications — also known as transactional print — in a variety of contexts. Researchers found almost 75% of consumers surveyed still prefer bills to arrive by mail; and more than one-third of those surveyed want print copies of things like bank statements, social security statements, or insurance communications.
These insights have made companies revisit transactional printing and explore ways to execute print customer communications in a streamlined, cost-effective way. And inkjet presses are well equipped to help with this task.
Let’s look at a couple of reasons why inkjet is the press technology of choice for printing high-quality, cost-effective customer communications.
In the past, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for companies when creating print customer communications was the additional time it took to personalize documents using specific customer data, because personalized data meant additional passes through the press.
However, inkjet uses a digital, data-driven approach called variable data printing (VDP) that enables personalized transactional print to be executed more quickly and seamlessly, because it can happen in one pass.
What’s more, the options for variability are endless. Through the use of VDP, designers can use customer information to incorporate custom messaging, images, and logos — with fast, simple versioning — to create a more customized and valuable customer experience.
In The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet, 3rd Edition, authors Elizabeth Gooding and Mary Schilling discuss that designers can use full-color VDP to increase process efficiency and effectiveness of personalization by:
- Replacing static “backer” text for disclosures with targeted proof-of-need disclosures. This reduces page count while also ensuring that the customer sees information that is relevant.
- Making branding dynamic to include corporate and local representation such as bank and branch, broker and financial advisor, insurance issuer and insurance agent.
- Tailoring marketing messages to specific client requirements including variable images, text, and offers.
- Replacing preprinted inserts with dynamically printed offers, coupons, and inserts.
Essentially, VDP can help transactional print pull double-duty in terms of acting as a personalized messaging platform for cross-selling or upselling products or services specifically targeted for customers based on data insights.
“Because of the blurring of customer communications and direct marketing, design and marketing support are becoming an ongoing part of the customer communications budget,” write Gooding and Schilling. “Using full-color inkjet, transaction documents can take full advantage of sophisticated messaging tools and ‘big data’ for increased personalization.”
It should be no surprise that one of the biggest motivating factors for companies in executing transactional print is the cost — especially compared with digital communications where the cost and time investment are relatively low. Inkjet helps companies execute more cost-effective print communications in a couple of key ways.
First, because Inkjet can use data-driven print to vary the messaging and images, companies can almost eliminate the need for static, preprinted inserts, which require additional time and money to create. This helps reduce the page count and subsequently the weight of the mailing, and it also results in a cost reduction on resources like paper and ink.
The method by which inkjet presses print is also important here. Inkjet uses a digital process that drops ink onto the page using a fixed number of printheads for a precise, crisp transfer. This transfer can be completed in a just single pass, and not only is this faster and more efficient than multi-pass presses, it also helps create a more consistent — and visually stunning — end product.
Another key way companies can increase the cost-effectiveness of their print communications with inkjet is the ability to use treated substrates – for example, papers with UV treatments that help ink dry the moment the substrate interacts with natural light.
According to Gooding and Schilling, the industry standard for transactional print is uncoated paper because it’s lighter in weight and it has a medium to high whiteness. However, the lower fiber count puts limitations on a designer’s use of saturated colors, and uncoated stock can be expensive to source given the higher amount of pure wood fiber in the sheet.
Using inkjet treated paper gives designers more freedom to use saturated colors or specialty inks without worrying about bleed or smudging. And, because more ink can be applied to an inkjet treated sheet without sacrificing quality or legibility, companies can reduce the page count per mailing in order to save on postage.
Choosing inkjet for print communications not only helps you designers create personalized pieces that add value on multiple levels, but it can also help companies leverage a more cost-effective method of communicating in a manner customers prefer, which can help create growth opportunities for everyone involved.