Personalisation is more than a first name

Rita Kacinske
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

According to recent research, brands are missing a trick when it comes to personalisation and this represents a significant opportunity for printers.

When we talk about personalisation, gone are the days when it meant featuring the recipient’s first name on a piece of direct mail. Now, printers, together with brands, can make marketing collateral even more targeted and relevant by using bespoke images, messages and offers.

The demand for more appealing content comes from consumers themselves.

According to research from marketing agency Pure360, basic personalisation, such as first name, fails to engage consumers in any real way, with only 8% of survey respondents saying that they would be encouraged to engage with a retail brand if they addressed them by their first name.

However, consumers are much more engaged and responsive to a promotional activity that features information directly relevant to them.

Moreover, consumers are more willing to repeat purchase if the initial offer is highly appealing to them.

According to data specialist Segment’s 2017 State of Personalisation Report, 44% of consumers say they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalised shopping experience with a particular company. What’s more, 40% of consumers say they have purchased something more expensive than they originally planned because their experience was personalised.

As a result, companies that take full advantage of personalisation will witness a positive impact on their bottom line. Personalised marketing, above generic marketing collateral, is capable of delivering 31% greater profits and boosting customer loyalty to over 40%.

One of the great personalisation campaigns in print was run by the Canon customer, Colourgraphic Arts.

The award-winning project centered on a 12-page data-driven booklet, featuring complex variable elements on every page, which delivered a success rate nearly five times higher than the marketing team were expecting.

“After the job was done, we were told that they were expecting a 10% success rate from the mailing, but it actually delivered 57%,” said John Scardarella, Colourgraphic Arts director.

VIDEO: Colourgraphic Arts pushes the boundaries of personalisation

Personalisation beyond print
Wayne Kershaw, Canon UK national sales manager, Professional Print – Graphic Arts, said that the level of success achieved by Colourgraphic Arts is within the grasp of many print businesses: “Forward-thinking print businesses are well aware of the benefits personalisation can offer an end-user. Even smarter ones know that personalisation extends way beyond print.”

With clients becoming more demanding and keen to find the best approach to capture consumers’ attention, 91% agree that print businesses need to offer greater flexibility and customisation in the service they deliver. One of the ways printers can do this is through web-to-print. Solutions such as EFI MarketDirect Cross Media and Digital Store Front enable them to create, personalise and automate marketing across all media, and easily bring it from web-to-print.

Formara’s Marketing Manager Andy Pond said: “We have gained many new customers using the Canon C10000VP and offering multi-channel communications with MarketDirect. One example being a well-known London university which was looking to start sending out direct mail again after removing it from their marketing plans three or four years previously due to lack of response.

"In previous years the university had used very simple variable data because its suppliers were not capable of anything more complex. The first campaign we worked on with their team was highly personalised and resulted in half of their total fundraising income for the entire year.”

Formara managing director Phil Wilce added: “Customers no longer see us as just a print business. We can now clearly differentiate ourselves from our competitors by offering measurable marketing services, with a combination of digital and printed collateral. Digital marketing companies rarely offer print as part of the mix, and don’t generally have the means to determine ROI as effectively as we do.”


What’s even more encouraging is 86% of print businesses agree that to stay ahead of competition, they need to add greater value over competitive pricing.

Personalisation can help do this. For example, according to a Print Power case study, D’Ieteren, a Belgian Volkswagen dealership, gathered information from prospects ahead of a new direct mail campaign, enabling personalisation of each brochure and delivering an increase of 26% in revenues.

“Printers who can offer this type of data collation and management to help clients unlock the benefits of highly personalised marketing are adding customer value, differentiating themselves, and reaping the rewards of new revenue streams,” said Kershaw.

“GDPR means there is a certain amount of setup required to comply with the required ISO certifications to qualify for data management, but for companies that go down this route, it can really pay off.”


Businesses that personalise their products or content have higher conversion rates and more customer engagement. With print’s vital role as a driver of response being ever more recognised, printers who want to capitalise on personalisation opportunities will need to offer more than simple print production. Investment in digital print is critical to branching out into these new specialised and targeted services.

Digital print – a crucial enabler of personalisation
So how can digital print technology help harness the power of personalisation?

First of all, it offers significant time savings. Personalisation means smaller production runs, and with the enormous amount of variations in how data can be used within print applications, jobs can be extremely complicated. Having the right solutions and technology, like the Canon imagePRESS C10000VP in place will help optimise efficiencies and save time. Digital requires less set up time, so you can get printing faster.

Secondly, digital allows for scalability. Print runs today consist increasingly of one-off productions and multiple short runs of as little as a few dozen, as well as the larger hundreds and thousands. As the size of production runs go down, printers need equipment that is cost-effective. Naturally this is a benefit for smaller print businesses who can compete with larger competitors without huge upfront costs.

Finally, personalisation requires efficiency, and for this, workflow and devices are of vital importance. The right workflow – from design to production scheduling – and the right device will facilitate personalisation smoothly, ensuring neither quality nor speed are compromised. Today’s technology is not just beneficial for consumers but holds enormous opportunity for print businesses as well. It’s important for printers to capitalise on this by assessing their future needs and installing solutions that will serve them now as their business grows.

Canon – your trusted guide to personalised products and services
Is your print business looking to unlock the opportunities of personalisation? At Canon we have a wealth of expertise working with organisations like yours to do just that. Arrange an appointment to explore how we can help by emailing


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