How Digital Technology Is Changing Print

If you picture the print medium as static, inflexible, and staid, then you may have missed print’s transition to the digital age. It’s a whole new ball game.

The development of high-speed digital printing has revolutionized print media, both in terms of the variability that can be achieved in the finished print product and the reasonable cost associated with that page-by-page flexibility. If you’ve abandoned print, or relegated it to mass communication efforts, you may want to re-evaluate your position. Print publications are now targeting your audience at an entirely new level of marketing precision.

The press goes digital
Key to the continued print evolution are the advances made in digital printing presses. The latest presses dramatically expand the ability to add personalization—for example, name or photo insertion—in two ways. First, the range of variability has increased. It’s now possible to print fully variable booklets and brochures, including different covers and variable page counts.

Because these projects are printed digitally, these variables can be handled at high speed in a single press run. That leads to the second significant step forward—affordability. Because presses don’t have to be set up each time the printed piece changes, efficiencies increase and costs drop.

So what might digital printing look like for you? Suppose your company serves a number of different communities, and publishes a newsletter sent to customers in each. Let’s say you wanted to include a customer profile in a given issue. You could feature a customer from each specific community on the cover of the editions mailed to addresses in that community. You could also personalize content to target the particular recipient—all in one press run.

The opportunities for personalization and pinpoint targeting are virtually limitless.

Interactive print
Print has also become infinitely more effective at driving customers and prospects to the electronic side of your business, thanks to the advent of the QR code. These codes—unique bar codes that can be scanned by mobile phones and other mobile devices—enable you to incorporate links to your website’s home page, a special online offer, or just about anything you can think of within your printed piece.

Not only do these codes provide an excellent, interactive way to link the print and electronic components of your marketing program, but they also deliver feedback on the effectiveness of your efforts.  You can track who is utilizing them to view your electronic content. And the bonus? You can also determine who is taking a look at your printed material.

Have you used digital printing? We’d like to hear about your experiences. Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Kodak.