Written by Shelley Sweeney
VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox Corporation
With the regular drumbeat of invitations to receive bills and statements electronically, it may seem counter-intuitive that printing these transactional documents is among today’s best digital printing growth opportunities. But indeed, transactional documents that incorporate marketing materials—known as TransPromo documents—are projected for a healthy 30.2 percent compound annual growth rate from 2011 to 2016, according to InfoTrends.
TransPromo, or transactional marketing, is benefiting from three favorable trends:
- Continued consumer demand for print. A 2011 survey of 5,000 U. S. Households by Phoenix Marketing International found that 65 percent prefer to get printed copies of bills and statements.
- The increased affordability of inkjet production printing, which runs at about 2.5 cents per page today, half the cost of other digital color printing technologies and competitive with roll-fed monochrome. Inkjet brings the benefits of digital color printing to a higher volume band than other digital technologies can reach cost effectively.
- A desire on the part of companies and institutions to consolidate their communications—and to get their messages read in a cluttered marketplace. What better way to incorporate marketing content and promotions than in the most highly read communications consumers receive: their bills and statements?
Inkjet’s role in driving this growth can’t be underestimated, and was on full display during last week’s Print 13 tradeshow, the largest printing convention in North America. In the Xerox booth, we dedicated about half of our space to high-speed production inkjet devices, showing a broad portfolio that includes both aqueous (Impika iPrint) and waterless (CiPress) inkjet offerings.
Inkjet quality is already sufficient for most TransPromo applications. The relatively low inkjet printing costs make color affordable, meeting marketing’s requirement for the added interest color brings to transactional marketing content. Inkjet’s fast speeds—as much as 30 times faster than the fastest xerographic color presses—ensure that tight print windows will be met. And the higher monthly volumes with inkjet presses mean that even lengthy customer communications, such as magazine and newsletters, can be accommodated in long runs for large customer bases.
But inkjet isn’t the only option for printing today’s transactional marketing documents. For lower volumes, digital color xerography makes sense, particularly with products like the recently introduced Xerox 8250, which incorporates top-line iGen® technologies into a printer engineered specifically for the cost, quality and reliability needs of transactional marketing.
For all the opportunity TransPromo affords, however, it is not an application to be offered casually. The best providers have multiple levels of safeguards to protect the sensitive data they handle and ensure the recipients’ privacy, while offering both print and electronic delivery options. Mistakes are not tolerated when producing checks and invoices, and delivering sensitive medical and financial data.
But for those with the know-how for handling these sensitive applications, now is the time to step up your game. The technology is here to deliver the Holy Grail of business communications: personalized documents that pull from comprehensive customer databases to deliver educational pieces and offers that are tailored to precisely where customers are in their buying and consumption cycles.
Many members of the Xerox Premier Partners Global Network of top Xerox customers recognize the opportunity. In an August survey of the members, 20 percent cited TransPromo as a significant source of growth, up from 13 percent two years ago.
What do you make of the TransPromo opportunity? Do you think, as I do, that paper will continue to be a preferred delivery method for bills and statements—complemented by electronic communications—for the next two decades or more?
Shelley Sweeney is vice president and general manager of Xerox’s Service Bureau and Direct Mail Sectors.