What is Programmatic Print?
Modern marketing vs. direct mail
There is enormous possibility in the use of letters, postcards and self-mailers in CRM! And yet, direct mail in 2021 still does not meet the needs of modern marketing. Direct mail campaigns are largely organized manually and with very limited personalization.
Here’s what’s needed to make direct mail as customer-centric and profitable as digital channels:
- True automation (without manual intervention),
- hyper-personalization (incl. image personalization), and
- a deep integration of direct mail into cross-channel customer journeys.
The hype around Programmatic Print
“Programmatic” has been the talk of the town lately because it enables marketers to finally run direct mail like a digital channel. But when is print “programmatic” and is that really a game-changer?
Programmatic comes from digital marketing and is derived from the words “program” (i.e. software) and “automatic” (i.e. processes without manual intervention). Without software and automated processes, therefore, there is no Programmatic Print.
The foundation for Programmatic Print was laid by the latest generation of digital printing machines. These not only enable extremely fast and highly personalized printing, but are also very cost-efficient and produce high-quality output. In most cases, however, the introduction of this new hardware has not changed the fact that campaigns are still run like in 2010:
- Data is transferred using CSV lists and SFTP servers or via custom connections.
- Coordination takes place via email or even telephone.
There is nothing wrong with that. However, if the goals are lean processes, maximum agility, minimal risk of error and highest customer centricity, then a “programmatic” setup is required.
Digital marketing has gone through the same evolution. I remember the days when email marketing was run with CSV lists. Today , this would be unthinkable.
Checklist Programmatic Print
Want to assess a print setup and find out if it’s truly programmatic? Take a look at this checklist.
Program + Automatic = Programmatic
A „program“ is a piece of software. Whether it‘s an app on your cell phone, an email tool or a Programmatic Print solution, these are all examples of software that let you achieve certain goals very easily and without IT development efforts. „Automatic“ means that processes are triggered completely by themselves, according to a configuration in the software. If the marketer has to pick up the phone or write an email, something went wrong.
Those are the essential elements of Programmatic Print:
- “Plug&Play” activation of the program via the app store of your marketing platform (e.g. via the Salesforce AppExchange, via Emarsys Enhance or via the HubSpot marketplace)
- Extensive configuration options for print mailing automations incl. access to all personalization data within a few clicks
- “Drag-and-drop” integration of direct mail touchpoints into digital customer journeys (e.g. in the Salesforce Journey Builder or in the Emarsys Automation Center)
- Automated transfer of campaign data such as cost, mail delivery or address cleansing data back into the marketing platform (e.g. via webhooks)
- Automated address validation or cleansing
- Automated printing incl. hyper-personalized content (e.g. including image personalization for product recommendations)
- Automated print of any format within days (in the countries of your choice, without special setup efforts)
- Automated postal handover (to local postal services of your choice, without special setup efforts)
Potential of a true Programmatic Print setup
Programmatic Print is therefore anything but “business as usual”. It requires rethinking direct mail. So why do we do it? For exactly the same reasons that other channels are also programmatically managed:
- 5-15% cost reduction: less development effort, better cost transparency, reduced mailing volumes through better targeting.
- Up to 90% effort reduction: hardly any manual coordination, simple plug&play with an intuitive software interface.
- 30-50% revenue and profitability increase: via more customer-centric campaigns, additional use cases, easier A/B testing and cross-channel effects.
It is also important to note that Programmatic Print does not make sense for every company. One key prerequisite is a proper marketing automation setup.