By Pat McGrew October 16, 2006 Color print is gaining market share, not only with marketing materials but also for service fulfillment (transactional) documents such as quarterly statements. The number of organizations using color in 10 percent or more of their documents has nearly doubled each year. - The 2006 Trends Survey conducted by Doculabs and the University of Illinois for the Electronic Document Systems Foundation (EDSF) When you dig into this study a bit you learn that roughly a third of the survey respondents are using color in their documents and that data-driven color in the form of personalized messaging is finding a home in transaction documents. The motivation for adding color is different for each organization that takes the step. In the end, though, they cross the chasm because they see real value in marrying what their marketing organizations have always known about the power of color and the need to communicate essential business information to their customers. When a few key market leaders in financial services adopted color in their quarterly statements, their competitors began to lay plans to follow suit. One factor that has influenced the move to color is the arrival of technologies that make color cost effective for organizations of almost any size with almost any kind of transaction print requirement. Another factor is competition. The EDSF Trends Survey notes that when a few key market leaders in financial services adopted color in their quarterly statements, their competitors began to lay plans to follow suit. The same pattern has been evident in telco, utility, loyalty card statements and credit card statements around the world. The adoption of color has practical operational implications as well as brand marketing considerations. Most often the move to dynamic full color statement printing is not just to eliminate preprinted shells and the costs associated with them, though this can be a rich source of operational savings. The adoption of color is more often part of an overall review of all customer communication with an eye toward brand consistency and messaging consistency. It just so happens that moving to more flexible output environments that permit dynamic color often leads to the elimination of preprinted stocks and preprinted inserts, and the costs associated with their development, warehousing, inventory management, and the time to change stocks during print runs. Adoption of color is more often part of an overall review of all customer communication with an eye toward brand consistency and messaging consistency. Yeah? It's true! Companies that begin looking at their overall investments in customer communication often start with the basics: cost of paper, cost of printing, and cost of postage. These are important components, but if you expand the discussion to include the costs associated with developing and managing preprinted templates--and those same costs for inserts that often slide out of the envelope and directly into the waste bin--the conversation starts to change. Add in the ability to provide documents that are easier to understand, causing fewer problem resolution calls, and you have an even more interesting story! The goal is to move the messaging that used to be non-personalized directly onto the bill/statement package so that it is not immediately lost. That provides the start to a new customer communication strategy. When you add in the ability to match full color marketing messages to the needs of the recipient at a more granular level than is possible with preprinted inserts, you have the potential for driving top line growth and customer loyalty. And that can lead to higher response rates to offers because the offers appeal to the recipients' current spending patterns. Customers who adopt these TransPromo techniques tell us that they find new revenue streams by leasing access to customers with specific demographics or psychographics without revealing their actual customer lists to their marketing partners. Moving messaging that used to be non-personalized directly onto the bill/statement provides the start of a new customer communication strategy. Early adopters of this technology are doing it today and reaping the rewards. From increasing their average spend per customer to retaining customers longer, industry research from InfoTrends and others shows that when you create personalized and customized messages, and deliver them using the most expected form of customer communication, the evidence you need will appear as top line and bottom line growth. Whoa! It is at about this point in the discussion that someone gets it. There is going to be some work involved here. It's going to take some data mining, some analytics, and some matching of offers to those analytics to create a more relevant customer communication. The marketing organization will have to develop offers based on the current customer data and they will be required to have new offers available for each billing cycle. This is much more work with much tighter deadlines than typically found in the development of text messages on bills/statements or the insertion of static preprinted inserts. The marketing organization will have to learn to work with the IT organization and the organizations responsible for developing the look and feel of the bills. In some organizations there is a dedicated document design team, in some this is sent to outside design agencies, and in others each business unit takes responsibility for the development of the way the bill is presented to recipients. In all cases, to adopt TransPromo techniques that marry the transaction statement with targeted messaging, all groups that touch the data and design will need to have a forum where they can work together to create brand consistent customer bills/statements. People involved in the data and design required to marry statements with targeted messaging need to work together to create brand consistent documents. Beyond incorporating TransPromo techniques into the transaction statement, there is the requirement to measure the results of this new form of customer engagement. That will take some work to set up, too. Offers will have to be tracked to see if customers respond, how they respond, and what the real impact of these customized offers is for the organization. For organizations that can pull the teams together and get them to work as a well oiled machine, the results can be amazing. A company in Australia tells us that one of their customers had a 100 percent response rate to a TransPromo offer made via their quarterly, compulsory insurance statement, and another of their customers reported a better than 40 percent response rate to offers made on a combined loyalty statement and newsletter. Companies in Europe, the Middle East and even the United States see similar results when they use what they know about their customers and leverage it to make new offers to them. Wow! Once the requirements are well understood the WOW factor takes over. The latent desire in the marketing organization to create consistent customer communication that uses the same branding, styles, and messaging techniques across their direct mail, print and web advertising, and essential customer communications including bills, statements, and regulatory notifications comes into play. The opportunity to market more effectively to existing customers and build tighter loyalty while increasing wallet share are all key characteristics of TransPromo communications--and there is a lot of WOW in that!