Features | August 09, 2022
Adding Value to the Customer Experience with Advanced Print Technologies
Enterprises sometimes overlook the role print can play in creating an optimal customer experience. With the emergence of new technologies and the ever-changing requirements of today’s buyers, all brands must adapt by changing the way they communicate with their customers across all channels.
We’ve been hearing about advanced technologies like cloud computing, big data and analytics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality for over 20 years in some cases. These technologies are changing how business gets done and enabling more nimble communication practices with customers. Here, we explore how today’s evolving technologies can add value to print and promotional products, and why it’s essential to explore the opportunities for offering more than static content.
Cloud computing — a term often misunderstood — simply involves using a network of servers hosted on the internet, also known as the cloud. Rather than investing in local servers or personal computers, data is stored and managed in a highly secure and reliable environment. In fact, if you’re reading this article on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, it’s very likely that cloud computing is involved.
One of the most sought-after goals for brands across all industries is the ability to create flawless interactions with customers. Things are no different in our brand solutions industry. Even so, many print providers still use physical, less structured job onboarding practices.
Cloud computing is often a better solution than putting valuable customer content at risk via email. As shown in the chart below, recent research from Keypoint Intelligence reveals that a web-to-print (W2P) workflow is considered 257% more accurate than an email ordering solution.
Accuracy of Ordering Methods
In this example, a W2P platform or cloud computing solution improves order accuracy and speed. Not all W2P platforms reside in the cloud; some are licensed and deployed to a customer’s server on-site. Both perform well when onboarding jobs. It is also worth mentioning that in the same Keypoint Intelligence study, the use of cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) W2P solutions is dominant. With security, reliability and cost on the minds of many, it’s no wonder that 55% of W2P solutions are now deployed through the cloud whereas only 22% are installed on-premises.
Big Data & Analytics
Big data is much more than an extensive archive of records stored in a database. It encompasses multiple sources of data gathered to better understand a business operation or customer behaviors. While nearly every organization can benefit from it, big data is only as good as the analytics that are used to understand it. For example, a company’s marketing department is typically one of the more prominent users of the information extracted from big data. That’s because marketers understand that today’s consumers want a personalized buying experience.
Brands must know when and where to engage with their audience in a personalized fashion. Working with your prospects and clients to find ways to produce more customized brand solutions products holds a lot of potential. At the same time, the importance of finding a solutions provider that is equipped to deal with such valuable assets cannot be overlooked. Exposed information is costly and continues to be a target of large-scale data breaches.
With sweeping privacy acts and regulations continually being rolled out to protect consumer privacy, it’s more important than ever to find a partner that is equipped to work through the intricacies of using data in marketing materials. Big data is transforming the marketing and sales requirements of today’s organizations. There has never been a better time to get involved in the conversation.
By now, most marketing professionals are familiar with augmented reality (AR). However, it’s also true that many perceive the current technology to be clumsy, costly and gimmicky. This belief will almost certainly change over time, particularly as more great examples of print layered with AR surface.
AR is so much more than an eye-catching futuristic novelty. In fact, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is currently offering discounts to encourage marketers to incorporate AR features in their direct mail. To bring additional attention to the practice, the USPS has also provided a library of real-life examples that can be viewed from a web browser or experienced via a sample book that can be requested online (irresistiblemail.com/augmented-reality).
Although modern AR applications may be difficult for some to conceptualize, the same was true for personalized printing when it first became available. To demonstrate the value of AR, it is important to incorporate live examples in documents or direct mail. A relevant print sample will immediately show how marketers can create a unique and memorable customer experience that everyone can conceptualize.
Providers of brand solutions must shift their focus toward new product offerings and new services if they hope to remain viable and competitive. AR delivers a fully immersive customer experience. If you aren’t ready to create augmented reality documents, consider partnering with a firm that can help you. Many QR codes failed to make it easy for customers to engage in their infancy, and AR can be quite similar. That said, the right partner will use tools and a platform that does not require users to download a unique app. Ease of use is important, because the AR experience is a direct reflection of the brand providing it.
Although it is most widely known for improving manufacturing, increasing efficiencies and reducing human error, artificial intelligence (AI) is also key to helping businesses grow and scale. These days, AI is also playing a role in marketing.
Today’s marketers have no shortage of data on hand. Savvy marketers understand the value that data segmentation can deliver. The amount of available information is growing exponentially, so the biggest challenge is keeping those segments up to date. This is a massive undertaking when done offline. AI can take small pieces of data from a buyer’s behavior, analyze it and then translate it to illustrate the best action to take next.
Developing a customer persona, or a representation of the critical traits of the desired audience, is key to a marketer’s success. When you consider the powerful capabilities that AI can deliver in terms of finding like-minded prospects and determining the probability of a purchase, the cost to generate new business can be significantly lowered.
Brand solution providers have an opportunity to expand their value when they understand how marketing strategies are influenced. Keep your eye on AI and how it’s shaping today’s marketing efforts.
The Bottom Line
Innovation means challenging status quo. For continued success, marketers and brands must seek opportunities that expand beyond what their competitors are doing. New technology is exciting — in addition to changing the way we do business, it’s changing how we engage with brands.
Taking the leap into this evolving world of marketing technology might feel a little uncomfortable as first, but the reality is that many of these so-called advanced technologies are already a part of our everyday lives. Your call-to-action is to be curious and determine how your business and clients can benefit from these technologies.
If you’re not sure how to get started, consider finding a partner that can help you deliver creative, innovative products and services. Consider the fitting words of Daniel Bell, a Harvard professor who is best known for his contributions to the study of post-industrialism: “Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.”
Karen Kimerer, director of Keypoint Intelligence’s Business Development Strategies Consulting Service, has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry.