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Personalisation is more than a first name

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, Print Service Providers (PSPs), 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 Pure360’s research1, 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 Segment’s 2017 State of Personalisation Report2, 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%3 .

One of the great personalisation campaigns in print was run by the Canon customer, Colourgraphic Arts. Established in 1983, Colourgraphic Arts has successfully grown from a reprographics and printing company, into a dynamic organisation offering integrated marketing solutions, with an enviable reputation for quality. In 2018, Colourgraphic Arts won the print industry award in the variable data category for producing a twelve-page data-driven booklet. It stood out to the judges for its quality, complexity and high level of personalisation. Featuring variable data throughout the mailer delivered a 57% success rate – nearly 5 times higher than the marketing team were expecting.

To produce the direct mail, Colourgraphic Arts were keen to use a digital press that would deliver the highest quality without compromising on production costs and productivity – so they chose Canon imagePRESS technology. You can see a mock-up of the award-winning mailer here.

Colour swatches close-up

Personalisation beyond print

Forward-thinking PSPs 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 GA companies need to offer greater flexibility and customisation in the service they deliver4 . One of the ways PSPs 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. One company that embraced this concept to its best is Formara.

Formara’s Marketing Manager Andy Pond states, “We have gained many new customers using the C10000VP and offering multi-channel communications with MarketDirect. One example being a well-known London university who were 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’s Managing Director Phil Wilce explains, “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.”

1Savanata research commissioned by Canon UK (Lt.), 2018

91% of graphic arts companies agree that they need to offer greater flexibility and customisation in the service they deliver

Businesses that personalise their products or content have higher conversion rates and more customer engagement. With prints vital role as a driver of response being ever more recognised, PSPs 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.

1Savanata research commissioned by Canon UK (Lt.), 2018

88% of graphic arts companies agree that in order to stay ahead of the competition, print businesses need to add greater value over competitive pricing

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, PSPs 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 PSPs to capitalise on this by assessing their future needs and installing solutions that will serve them now as their business grows.

Designers at work reviewing prints top down close up

Canon – your trusted guide to personalised products and services

Are you a PSP 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

Written by Rita Kacinske

1‘Beyond the Basics: Why Customers Are Demanding Next-level Personalisation,’ 24 April 2018, source:

2 The 2017 State of Personalization Report, 2017, source:

3 From innovation to implementation: emerging print for packaging technologies and how to apply them, Smithers Pira, 2016-2020

4 Savanta Research, 2018, commissioned by Canon UK

5 Savanta Research, 2018, commissioned by Canon UK


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