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Commentary & Analysis

Transforming and Automating Workflows: Marketing Campaign Automation

David looks at Marketing Campaign process automation. This is a new and interesting area that can help support a Print Service Provider transformation into a Marketing Services Provider business model, and potentially integrate into an automated print production workflow.

By David Zwang
Published: October 18, 2013

Print Service Providers have been hearing about expanding their core offerings beyond ‘print only’ to many different services. These services include, among other things, marketing services. There has been a lot of discussion about the need for marketing services for years, especially as we see the increase of potential media channels to deliver messaging to meet the needs and reach of a very disparate audience. Print still offers the best bang for the buck, according to the recent Ipsos Affluent Survey. This survey projects that there are now 62.5 million U.S. ‘Affluents,’ those earning at least $100,000 in annual household income which accounts for about 20% of U.S. households, and they prefer print. These households account for about 69% of U.S. net worth. So why is this important and how does this affect the need for cross-media marketing campaigns that include print?

One example is a recent study of Back to School Deals and Promotions by Placed, an analytics company focused on consumer behaviors. The study found that consumers have the highest preference for print ads and direct mail from the store/brand, with email from store/brand coming in third. These two recent studies only continue to validate that print plays a very important but not exclusive role in driving consumer decisions. It reinforces the role that print can play in the context of a multi-channel campaign to add weight and value to the messaging.

How does a print service provider leverage a print relationship with a client into a broader marketing campaign relationship? There has been a lot of coverage on this topic in previous articles, so we are not going to discuss why you should be looking at it seriously or selling the concept to your customer here. Rather, we will look at some tools that are hitting the market that are designed to help facilitate cross-media marketing campaign production. I need to reiterate that I said ‘production,’ because ultimately print service providers are in the business of, and usually very good at, making production happen.

Marketing Campaign Management tools have been around for a long time, but have focused primarily on managing resources. However, the increase in cross-media campaigns, which have been growing in popularity at a fairly dramatic rate of late, has created a need for  production-centric tools to facilitate these new campaigns. As a result, there are a number of tools, some fairly new, that facilitate campaign production and automate that process to varying degrees. One of the earlier entries into the cross-media personalization space was XMPie, now a Xerox company. They started with UDirect and PersonalEffect desktop and server based personalization software product lines, and then added a hosted e-Media SaaS solution that tied together the personalization with PURL (Personalized URLs) implementation and campaign analysis. From there, XMPie offerings were expanded to create a more comprehensive campaign planning and execution solution in XMPie Circle. This relatively new cloud-based SaaS product was designed to give the user a functionally and visually rich Digital Storyboard to plan, visualize, and sell a multi-channel campaign using a variety of selectable tools that represent the tasks that can be used in a project.

XMPie Circle is based around the familiar concept that we have been discussing in this series, Pipeline-based process automation. If you have been following this series, you know that there are varying types of pipeline automation solutions. The earlier version of Circle used a linear pipeline that allowed planning in a sequential process. The latest version has been expanded to a much richer set of if/then/else trigger-based decisions, actions and processes. For example, if one of the target recipients goes to the PURL mentioned in the printed piece, it could trigger an email or some other action after a specified period of time. Or conversely, if they didn’t visit the PURL, it can execute a different action to help drive them there, to move beyond the simple drip campaign. The XMPie Circle SaaS solution is available in premium version that can link to the server-class solutions from XMPie (i.e., PersonalEffect); hence, only the premium versions allow for automation, content preview, or live analytics. However, XMPie also offers a free version that can be used to design and plan, but not execute, a campaign. It’s a great way to get to ‘test drive’ it as well.

MindFireInc was one of the first SaaS solutions to facilitate the creation and use of PURLs and Landing pages in personalized marketing campaigns, through its LookWho’sClicking solutionwhich uses a linear type of pipeline automation, addressing a sequential set of actions. While the campaign design tools are primarily forms-based and don’t use visual objects like XMPie does to plan and construct the program, MindFireInc customers have found it to be a successful solution. MindFireInc has focused its efforts on creating a SaaS solution that provides tools to create a fairly straightforward marketing campaign with a low barrier of entry. Like any good marketing campaign solution, a core offering is the analytics platform, an essential piece of any marketing campaign. In addition to PURLs MindFire solutions support email, QR codes, and text messaging.

The Campaign Wizard offers step by step guides that help users create new campaigns from scratch or copy and edit existing ones. They use the concept of four key Blueprints, which are working templates to structure and visualize a campaign. One of the unique things that MindFireInc has focused on is providing training and consulting resources that a print service provider might need as they grow into this new world of providing marketing services. Since its inception in 1999, MindFireInc has been busy expanding its software functionality as well as business development offerings. Its fastlaunch program, a recommended starting place for new entrants into the marketing services space, was developed specifically to address the new print service provider client with a very structured and monitored training and execution program to help ensure project success.

The last, and perhaps the newest solution we looked at was Konica Minolta’s EngageIT XMedia. It was introduced at Graph Expo 2012, but really brought to the forefront this year at Print13. Initially developed by an ad agency, and then fine tuned by KM for the marketing service provider, as a SaaS solution that resides 100% in the cloud.  It was initially designed to service casino loyalty programs in Las Vegas, and it brings all of the potential marketing distribution channels into play. You can use Email, Web pages, Text messages, PURLs and GURLs (General URLs) which can be generated on demand through the included CMS. Additionally it supports QR Codes, Social Media, and most importantly integrated print actions.

It is designed to use a pipeline process that supports if/then/else trigger actions to create very unique and flexible marketing programs. It supports real-time data feeds to deploy any of the supported actions, and real-time analytic tracking results to monitor the program success. It can track everything from email openings to Facebook likes and text message deliveries, etc. in an online dashboard. While this is a very interesting addition to the available solutions in the market, it also highlights Konica Minolta’s new and focused efforts into the workflow software marketplace.

While none of these solutions will make you a marketing service provider overnight, they go a long way toward helping you learn and execute cross media marketing campaigns that you can sell to your customer along with your printed products.

In the next article, we will look at portals and other ways to get jobs into a plant for production.

Remember, if you have any topics you think are important and would like us to cover during the balance of this series, please let us know!

To see some informative ways to automate and transform your workflows, download an informative whitepaper on "Automating and Optimizing a Book Production Workflow"

David Zwang travels around the globe helping companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach. He specializes in production optimization, strategic business planning, market analysis, and related services to companies in the vertical media communications market. Clients have included printers, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, premedia and US Government agencies. He can be reached at david@zwang.com.



By Sigi Alder on Oct 18, 2013

Nice overview, but one main player is missing: DirectSmile offers that Marketing automation. Linked to CRM solution DirectSmile offers a great experience.


By David L. Zwang on Oct 18, 2013

was not done intentionally.. mea culpa


By Charles Gehman on Oct 18, 2013

Actually, you left out a ton of players. If any of those you listed here are to be considered "Marketing Automation", then you should also have EFI OPS in the list.

But really, it's companies like Pardot, Eloqua and Marketo that are the leaders in what most would consider Marketing Automation.

Perhaps an article on how printers could find a fit with what those tools do would be a good follow up.


By David L. Zwang on Oct 18, 2013

thanks Chuck.. that's a good idea and will follow up on it


By David Dodd on Oct 18, 2013

As Chuck says, there are many marketing automation solutions available in the market. The three that Chuck mentioned (Pardot, Eloqua, and Marketo) are designed for B2B companies. Given their cost, Eloqua and Marketo are primarily used by large and mid-size B2B organizations. I'm not sure about Pardot's current pricing.

There are also several solutions that primarily target small and mid-size B2B companies. Some examples include Act On, Infusionsoft, Net Results, and Genoo. There are several others.

There is a fair amount of recent research which indicates that most companies with marketing automation solutions are underutilizing those solutions. This is particularly true in smaller companies, and that's where a significant opportunity may exist for PSP's/MSP's.


By Tim Mulligan on Oct 18, 2013

I am very excited to see this shift in thinking in the print community. There is a whole world of marketing automation that was created, and somehow print missed the boat. It's not too late, start paddling now. We're doing it in the Salesforce Cloud at PrintSF.


By Moe Farsheed on Oct 18, 2013

Thank you for the very informative article and thank you for mentioning our name. We have two products. Look who's clicking (LWC) which you described and MindFire Studio, which is a marketing automation platform designed for the print service provider.

The Studio is different from Eloqua, Pardot, Marketo, etc, in that it can be white labeled, it includes other important channels such as print via HP Smartstream and Pageflex, voice, etc. The Studio is perhaps the most flexible and it is 100% visual. We have approximately 100 license holders who have done some incredible customer centric campaigns including very sophisticated drip sequences with great results.

Perhaps one of our partners will post their thoughts. Lastly, a trial version of our product is available at mindfirestudio.com/free-signup/.

Thank you again for your article.


By David L. Zwang on Oct 18, 2013

Thank you all for your comments..

The basic premise of this article was to look more at the evolution of Marketing Campaign Production Automation, not in anyway an attempt to cover the market as a whole or even the various segmentation of solutions and tools.

However the intense interest in this topic has lead me to believe that this subject needs a much more in depth look. I am thinking about how to fairly approach this without it just looking like a directory of solutions and tools.



By Bryan Yeager on Oct 18, 2013

Dave, perhaps the best approach you could take would be to interview some service providers to understand how they are using these types of products and then write articles/case studies about it. Writing about the products in this segment--even with the context you provided--is a futile effort because:

A) Marketing technology is a nebulous space. Some tools are specific to print providers, many others are not but could be used by print providers to support marketing campaign management. This has already been mentioned by several prior commenters.

B) As such, you will spend more time than necessary defending yourself against companies that felt they were left out of your piece (see above).

C) You can report about the print provider's decision for picking the solution(s) they use instead of writing about select products, effectively eliminating the chance for B to occur. Most providers use multiple solutions, not just one platform, especially for marketing campaign management.

There are numerous options already out there for finding what products are out there and what they do. What's lacking (in my opinion) are insights about how/why companies made their technology purchase decisions and how they are being used in the real world. Anyway, just my $0.02.


By David L. Zwang on Oct 18, 2013

Thanks Brian..


By Jacob Aizikowitz on Oct 20, 2013

Reading the article and all the discussion, I would like to add few thoughts; naturally these have a grain of XMPie bias in them... yet, still some general perspective as well.

Like Moe, I would first like to thank Dave for examining our stuff and writing about it.

We were very careful in avoiding Marketing Automation as a characteristics of our Circle solution.

Does not mean that -- like many others -- we are not looking at that space, but we see the significant differences between what we have and focus on and what companies like Eloqua, Marketo, or Pardot and Silverpop,are emphasizing and bringing to market.

They all lack an integrated media personalization solution, and they all focus on engaging visitors to the company's web site in nurturing leads activities that many times result in creating quality lead-lists for sales to follow-on etc.

We, for many years, have a comprehensive media personalization solution, and our aim is to augment it with capabilities that bring unprecedented visual clarity to what 1:1 multichannel campaigns are and what customer experiences they are going to deliver.

At Print'13 we launched Campaign Automation which is very much focused on automating the production processes in such campaigns (very much like Dave is pointing out so clearly in his article).

Solutions like ours and also some of those mentioned by Dave in the article, have Print as a first class citizen in the media mix. Much different than the way Print is related to in Marketing Automation solutions that are all about engaging prospects who land on a web site.

And because of that, I believe that what we and what some of our competitors do will serve the print service providers and any other business that recognizes the important role of print in the media mix much better than the solutions currently leading the Marketing Automation charts.


By John Heinzmann on Oct 21, 2013

Isn't the latest offering from MindFireInc called Studio? As a Look who's Clicking user, the enhancements I've been seeing in Studio look cutting edge!


By John Heinzmann on Oct 21, 2013

"However the intense interest in this topic has lead me to believe that this subject needs a much more in depth look. I am thinking about how to fairly approach this without it just looking like a directory of solutions and tools."

Here is a suggestion to the above. Make certain you only discuss solutions that include and drive print as part of them. So many leave it out.


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