By Pat McGrew
For decades, Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) technology has provided solutions for mail addressing and packaging print, adding variable data to preprinted direct mail and the ever evolving segment that supports bill printing—ever evolving because this essential type of mail drives business. No corporate entity or small company can exist if the bills fail to go out on time. Because this mission critical mail is so visible to customers, savvy companies began looking at how to use that document to talk to their consumers about additional services, solutions and products as a part of the monthly billing. CIJ is a fabulous solution for this type of conversation with the customer because it permits the biller to create highly customized, personalized, and colorful communications that stand the highest chance of being read and reviewed.
When you add color graphics to communication, the reader will spend as much as 80 percent more time with it.
If you look at the research from Pantone Institute and others, the predisposition to color becomes clear. Most of us were raised in homes and schools that supplied us with colorful boxes of crayons and taught us how to use color to mirror our world. Remember the first time you colored the sky red or a tree bright pink and were told that the colors were incorrect? Over time, we developed an understanding of the role of color in our world and learned to watch for color. As we entered the working world, our appreciation of color hasn’t wavered. The June 1999 Loyola School of Business study tells us that when you add color graphics to communication, the reader will spend as much as 80 percent more time with it. Given that propensity to look at color, billers who add dynamic color and personalization to their bills—and even to their solicitations—find that they often see increases in response rates that are more than 100 percent. The 2000 Romano and Broudy study is one famous example. Customers of digital color using CIJ technology tell us that they have seen real response rates of 50 percent and 60 percent from offers and solicitations added to their billing statements when they are clearly personalized and use dynamic color.
Binary Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) is unlike the inkjet in your home printer because the ink circulates under pressure to a print head that vibrates to shake loose the ink droplets. Because more than 280 million ink droplets per second are managed in a 9 inch print head, the technology accommodates extremely fast print speeds. And because the technology accommodates the ability to print in black only, black and a spot color or two—or even full process color using cyan, magenta, yellow and black using standard, low cost inks—CIJ technology generally provides the least expensive approach to adding color to billing applications or sophisticated direct mail.
Printers are using a variety of business models to enhance the revenue stream bill represent to their customers. There is no one size fits all.
Around the world today there are a growing number of examples of billers who use CIJ and color variable data printing to enhance the revenue stream of their clients using a variety of business models. One size does not have to fit all! For some printers, the offer they make to their clients is that they will print their bills at a highly discounted rate if they can add one page to the bill that they can broker to marketing partners. They never sell the customer list or give access to the customer list, but sell the space on the additional page based on the demographics of the customer mix. Other printers work with their clients to develop marketing portals on their bills to cross sell and upsell products and services within the enterprise, generating additional revenue from existing customers. (Check out www.theloyaltyeffect.com for some great information on why that is important!)
Remember that this essential, mission critical mail is already the driver for the revenue stream. Making it work harder is why we call it droplets making cents!