Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant

Don't falsely assume you understand your client's campaign objectives

It’s easy to make the wrong assumption

I remember a very powerful photojournalism study. It showed a man running, pursued by two policemen. It would be easy to assume that this was a criminal being chased by the police.

The next photo showed a very different story. It was exactly the same scene.  However, this time a wider picture was shown. Viewers understood that both the man and the policemen were running to help someone who had been injured in an accident.

Many people make false assumptions when selling variable data printing
The most common incorrect notion involves what the customer is trying to achieve with their campaign. That’s why it is critical that you understand the purpose of the piece. This way you can give the client the best possible advice to ensure their campaign is a success.

Here are the three most common purposes of a campaign that uses variable data printing:

  1. To gain customer data
  2. To increase audience engagement
  3. To achieve sales

The best way to confirm the purpose of a campaign is to agree on what is being measured
This will allow you to help design a piece that takes your prospect along the right route of interaction. It will also allow both parties to calculate the success of the campaign and to compare its success against that of previous campaigns.

Let’s look at how each of the common campaign types can be measured.

1. Gaining customer data

Typically these types of campaign will offer a free incentive in return for a prospect signing up and providing data. The prospect may also be asked to answer some questions which allows them to be segmented.

The easiest way to measure this type of campaign is by number of sign-ups or completed questionnaires. However, if the customer journey can be tracked, it is also possible to measure this on a long-term basis. This allows you and your client to see if the campaign helped achieve longer-term goals, such as sales.

Case Study:
Strategies Relationship Marketing created a campaign for Maybelline New York to improve customer loyalty, build its database and boost consumer willingness to try new products. To accomplish this, a microsite was created containing a 12-part questionnaire to learn more about each individual, including ethnicity, hair and eye colour, skin conditions and other qualities. Consumers were driven to this site through mass media and social media efforts.

Once the data was collected, a personalized booklet was created for each individual, containing recommendations for relevant products, trackable coupons, and cosmetic-lessons.

The data gathered from this campaign helped build the beginnings of a loyalty club for Maybelline, and also helped drive sales, which was measured by coupon redemption rate.

2. Audience engagement

With this type of campaign, it is important to decide how the client wishes the audience to engage. Specific targets should be set, such as competition entries, event registrations, Facebook likes or blog comments. Once this has been decided, it is generally easy to measure the success.

However, in some cases it may be necessary to compare uplift with normal activity.  This is because it may be difficult to track traffic.  This applies particularly to some social media sites where it is not possible to gain analytics on where traffic or activity originates from.

Case Study:
With obesity rates among children soaring, England’s government decided to launch its first social marketing campaign aimed at reducing levels of childhood obesity. Lateral Group was chosen to help deliver this campaign, which started with a questionnaire being sent to families across England. The questionnaire asked parents to detail their children’s diet and activity on a typical day, as well as other basic information. Using these responses, Lateral group created a personalized action plan for each child, featuring colourful visuals, fun stickers and information on leading a healthy lifestyle.

The initiative was exceptionally well received and successful in encouraging the English public to adopt a healthier habits. Sign-ups were 200% over target, with 80% of responders having shown real, long-term commitment to continuing with the program by actively opting-in to receive more information in the future. To date, the program is helping 320,000 at-risk children lead happier and healthier lives.

3. Increased sales

If sales from a campaign are to be measured effectively, it is important to set up the right customer journey.

For instance, you may wish to set up a dedicated online sales page to ensure that you can measure sales activity purely from a campaign. This will also allow you to measure visitor behaviour, including metrics such as bounce rate on the campaign sales page.

An alternative approach to measure sales would be to create a special offer that could only be obtained as long as a specific offer code is entered on the sales page.  This would allow you and your client to track the success of the campaign from within a standard sales page.

Offline sales can also be measured by requiring a specific voucher to be redeemed.

Case Study:
The St. Kilda Football club was in need of creating new Membership Renewal Notices to boost revenue by improving member retention, taking advantage of the opportunity to migrate members to higher levels of membership, and encourage additional purchases. They turned to Integrated Mailing Services for help in updating their renewal notices, which were sent to 31,000 members in addition to prospects.

To make each member feel as though they were a valued part of the club, a high degree of personalization was used, including both text and imagery. Past transactional information was also included, with specific and relevant offers to promote up-sell opportunities.

The Renewal Notices made a favourable impression and assisted the St. Kilda Football Club in achieving record levels of membership. Strong improvements in the renewal rate and the sale of upgrades to higher membership levels were other successful outcomes.

There is one vital rule to remember when selling a variable data campaign:

Talk to your customers
It is important that you are fully aware of their needs and expectations in order to deliver a successful campaign. It is also important that you and your client agree on how the campaign should be measured.

It is critical that you and your client get on the same page in terms of goals  and refrain from making assumptions. Remember, an image can take on many meanings, especially if you are only seeing a small piece and not the bigger picture.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on how to effectively sell Variable Data Printing:


Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here