Leveraging Print to Complement eMarketing Omni-Channel Strategies for Profitability

Make eMarketing the catalyst for success

Article courtesy of Canon Solutions America and NAPCO

A Print Service Provider (PSP) must modernize and analyze diversified channels such as database management, email, web to print, website development and hosting, wide format, social media, industrial print and new technologies such as AR, VR, QR and video.

When a PSP can integrate one or more of these technologies with print into a single, seamless marketing campaign, delivering a highly targeted, consistent message, it has earned customer respect and an ongoing business relationship. It’s essential to effectively deliver content by using all channels in a cohesive, unified fashion. These vital avenues of communication are always changing, but the 600-year-old form of content delivery continues to resonate – print.

Defining eMarketing and explaining the omni-channel

All marketers are challenged with presenting their message in a way that attracts the attention of their target audience. Since the introduction of the internet and mobile devices, methods that cut through the digital marketing abyss fall into the category of eMarketing. eMarketing, internet marketing and digital marketing are grouped together when searching for a definition. Is there a difference? Probably not; the difference is purely semantic. It is easiest to define eMarketing as online communications.

The term omni-channel is becoming pervasive in the marketing world. It first came to prominence in the retail sector where it denoted the integration of different shopping methods: online vs. store vs. phone. Now the term has expanded to mean a seamless integration of multimedia touches to create unified messaging and customer experience. To run a business with full omni-channel attributes teaches us many things. The marketplace must be the guiding principle. While print used to be one of the most dominant media in how to reach and touch a targeted audience, now digital is foremost. Digitization is everywhere.

While the omni-channel paradigm is important, a PSP must always focus on how to build trust in their customers’ minds. They must clearly demonstrate their mastery of the tools that will influence the actions of the ultimate end user. Trust then leads to developing a “sticky” business relationship between the PSP and its customer.

Internally, eMarketing is catalyzing organizational thought processes. A smart PSP must recognize and offer new types of services. Here are some of the components that most marketing and print professionals consider the essentials of successful omni-channel marketing.

Content management

Content needs to trigger an emotion or a desired action. A PSP who can partner with customers to maximize effective content delivery generally has a successful strategy in place.


Print is an essential part of the omni-channel, but it must be used differently. It’s important not to underestimate the power of delivering powerful, engaging and creative content via a printed document. The challenge is how to leverage the power of print with other omni-channel media. Print is a great trigger medium for creating beautiful graphics, a compelling message and a call to action. The best print vehicles to do this with are: 1) personalized direct mail. Print – when personalized and customized – gets a 6.5 percent response rate compared to one to two percent for nonpersonalized direct mail, according to Melissa Data, 2) customized catalogs and sales materials, 3) Trans-promo.


Plain and simple, the internet is pervasive in all our lives.


Personalized emails are a practical way to follow up to personalized direct mail, but it is difficult to do well with email alone. This vehicle can be an excellent way to replicate campaigns and reinforce the campaign message. Email marketing consistently outperforms other marketing channels, including social media, because it’s personal and direct – if it doesn’t get caught in the spam filter.

Social media

Social media trends are changing at a fast pace, which makes it difficult to define the best path for success. Many platforms come and go quickly, but one thing is certain: The social media instant message is dominating the marketing space for young people.

Mobile apps

With mobile becoming almost a connected part of lives, this omni-channel component cannot be ignored. Based on research done by Shopify, 53 percent of all eCommerce is done via mobile devices.

Wide format messaging

The dynamic expansion of wide format has positively impacted the eMarketing world. It is no longer just about posters or signage, but wall coverings, window treatments, textiles and other industrial uses as well.


A common denominator that seems to link all omni-channel platforms is video. YouTube™ has dramatically changed the course of marketing. People love to watch a short, engaging video.

Interactive media

  • QR codes have been around awhile but still have some life in retail and the packaging space.
  • Virtual reality (VR) is shaking up the online world. Ever since Oculus Rift hit the scene, the excitement about virtual reality has become very real and tangible. Although no statistics exist as to how this technology will change the eMarketing world, the possibilities are huge. VR helps create a unique sensory experience that can’t be found anyplace else.
  • Augmented reality (AR) is already a big part of the eMarketing scene. Many existing players have created some truly functional yet awesome apps and uses for this technology to help shoppers put their minds at ease by allowing them to literally visualize the look and feel of products from their digital devices. The future will see more companies riding this technology, offering customers a more immersive visual shopping experience.

Database management

The increasing demand for relevant data is one of the major drivers for marketers today. The growing requirement for PSPs to offer this service is vital to any eMarketing efforts within the omni-channel. Data analytics, which track the various marketing campaigns, determine success or failure and determine scalability mapping for future campaigns.

360-degree view of the changing marketing landscape

Each year, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) surveys thousands of marketers and publishes a comprehensive research report on content marketing trends and practices. And year after year, it’s the same story: The majority of marketers do not have documented content marketing strategies – and the absence of that strategy could be hurting their chances of measurable success.

In fact, CMI reported in its 2017 Benchmarks Report that 63 percent of B2B marketers do not have a documented content strategy, while 61 percent of the most successful ones do. Now, a documented strategy doesn’t necessarily mean your company will create an award-winning content marketing program, but research clearly shows a correlation between a documented strategy and successful content programs.

Ultimately a PSP’s business strategy must serve several different purposes and take a number of different forms. The key, however, is to have it align with what the customer needs to achieve their goals.

Revamping the print experience

When it comes to delivering content, one needs to think about the end user first and how they want to be engaged. If a PSP can demonstrate how successful an omni-channel, unified, positive message – starting with a captivating, creative, personalized printed piece – can be, then that strategy can be duplicated in many niche verticals and create a “sticky” business customer relationship.

The goal of a marketer is to learn which channel works best for which customers and reach them there. Personalized direct mail is an excellent initial engagement medium. It can set a brand apart. Personalized newsletters and promotional materials that deliver relevant content tend to send people to online media that then achieve the desired result of engaged customers. The digital printed piece becomes an essential element of this campaign strategy.

The underlying technology to any personalization campaign is database management. Data technology has paved the way to improved marketing efficiency and then measuring defined results with the capability to offer predictive add-ons. When a printed piece can be personalized to almost every extent, the chance of the targeted person positively reacting is much higher.

Role of data

Data is everywhere, and one of the best opportunities for profitable growth lies in mastering data analysis for print and omni-channel communications. If you’re making a push to change your business strategy, or want to prove that the omni-channel efforts you’ve already put in place have been beneficial to your company and your customers, you must be a viable database player. Data drives all personalized content delivery, no matter what media channel.

Data comes in two flavors: Big Data and Little Data. Big Data encompasses large volumes of data – structured and unstructured – that inundate a business on a day-to-day basis. Little Data describes data that relies on targeted data acquisition and data mining, such as what items individual customers purchased at a local retailer. Keep in mind, it’s not the amount of it that’s important, but what organizations do with the data that matters. And between print and other omni-channel uses, there is a lot that a print provider can do.

An important term that relates to defining data is “patternicity.” This word refers to the human tendency to find meaning in random events. Gathering Big Data or Little Data into useable forms is the cornerstone of patternicity. This sounds logical, and all marketing programs today hinge on knowing the vital information obtained on marketing targets and then leveraging it successfully. Good marketers look for partners who can assist in determining buying and event patterns, and things that can be used as a predictive model for future actions. If the printer can acquire basic data management skills, great value can be achieved for a customer. Printers who master data management are destined for success.

Mastering the digital transformation

The number one challenge facing today’s PSP management is digital disruption. Print is not going to disappear any time soon, but how the business world employs the ink-on-paper medium is dramatically changing.

Advancements in technology and the rapid proliferation of digital media, data analytics and mobile requires PSP executives to lead their companies by providing new service offerings and skills. A key element of this transformation is building new digital customer experiences. Underlying all this is a solid IT infrastructure. The PSP must look for software providers and outside vendor partners to support the eMarketing implementation. Established companies know they can’t do this transformation alone. Partnering is the best way to bring talented, experienced people into the equation without breaking the bank and overcome the fear of making the wrong decisions.

Either new people must be hired, or existing employees must be trained to make this transformation successful. Infrastructure must be built with security measures in place and documented to protect customer data.

“Leveraging Print to Complement eMarketing Omni-Channel Strategies for Profitability” was commissioned by NAPCO and written by Steven Schnoll in 2017. It is run here in PostPress courtesy of Canon Solutions America. Edited for space by PostPress editors.

Key Steps in Mastering the Digital Transformation

  • Perform a SWOT analysis to determine company status.
  • Talk to key customers to get their insights into what is changing in their respective businesses to ensure your investment is not a waste of money.
  • Research software vendors and outside service partners to evaluate options and the price of success.
  • Determine employment requirements – training existing team vs. hiring new people.
  • Create a database infrastructure with proper security measures and analytics.
  • Install productive digital print engines.
  • Learn what it takes to become a trusted adviser to customers.