The average American’s trip to the mailbox isn’t as impersonal as it once was. It’s no longer status-quo to get mail addressed to “occupant.” Direct mailers have long been in tune with the benefits of one-to-one marketing, and some catalogers are following suit.
Victoria’s Secret is versioning mailings to best suit customers. For example, the company monitors buying habits, and when a customer hasn’t bought in a set amount of time, she gets a catalog version that offers discounts.
Other catalogers use their front and/or back covers to send personalized messages to customers, while still others produce titles with versioned inserts that introduce new products, promote the company’s Web site or prompt customers to visit a local retail store.
Indeed, one-to-one marketing has changed the consumer’s mail experience and continues to shape buying habits. If it’s done right, one-to-one marketing can pay off in exponential dividends, says Ted Gaillard, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Vertis Direct Marketing Services. His company provides marketing and advertising solutions to more than 3,000 clients. “Two things are hurting the business,” Gaillard says. “The cost of prospecting is rising, and response rates have been on the decline.”
But these trends can be reversed with the right care built into a one-to-one marketing campaign, he notes — one that’s built on driving data and the right offer to the customer.
Digital Printing: The Direct-mail Enabler
One of the key enablers for direct mailers latching on more quickly to variable-data printing was the premiere of digital color production presses. These solutions caught on quickly in the direct-mail segment. They offered good color quality, significantly reduced makereadies, a totally digital workflow and the ability to efficiently produce shorter runs — down to a single-piece output, in some cases.
“[At Vertis,] we’re seeing a heavy degree of digital one-to-one printing,” Gaillard reports. “Although it’s been around for years, the technology was ahead of the market. Databases didn’t have the level of sophistication to interface with the digital print engines.” The industry is overcoming these challenges, Gaillard notes. “Print engines are just one part of the story. [The success stems from] creating the link between the database and the print engines and the expertise of the individuals managing the data.”