2020 Outlook for Direct Mail and Transactional Print: The Future is Here!

In 1959, Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield predicted that mail delivery via rockets would become commonplace by the next century. After delivering more than 3,000 letters across 600 miles in under 22 minutes, he stated, “We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” Although rocket mail never transpired, powerful new technologies that refine the process of creating mailed documents have taken hold.

As proof, adoption and implementation of digital printing presses continue to grow year over year. With this increased productivity, direct mail and transactional printers are forced to look at their business priorities differently. Well-prepared print service providers (PSPs) will prioritize filling the capacity created by the efficiencies of their new presses, leveraging the entire supply chain to accelerate growth, and improving the effectiveness of print applications. With these goals in mind, here are some tips and trends for PSPs from Keypoint Intelligence –InfoTrends’ “Road Map 2020: Business Development Strategies for Print Service Providers.”

It’s Time to Address the Capacity Gap

While it’s very common for PSPs to invest in technologies to meet the evolving needs of their prospects and customers, this can often lead to a predictable dilemma—that new and more productive digital presses bring new capacity with them. When addressed properly, increased capacity typically generates new and often overlooked growth opportunities. Identifying the applications that are a good fit is your first step to filling that gap. Next, ensure your sales team is on the hunt for new opportunities that complement your current capabilities. Once your sales team understands where to look and how to sell to these new opportunities, your new digital press will immediately become a sound investment.

Sell the Supply Chain, Not Products

Today’s PSPs often think about their growth in terms of new products and services they can conceptualize, produce, and deliver. Successful PSPs take it one step further and examine where they can optimize their prospects’ and customers’ supply chains. This requires a keen understanding of all the individual contributors and businesses supporting the customer’s operation. Think about how your product or service will be used, then take a step back and seek opportunities that lead up to or follow the use of that solution. Most likely, your customers’ supply chains will form a complicated web of practices across multiple departments, suppliers, agencies, channel partners, subsidiaries, distributors, and geographic markets. From content, design, and inventory of preprinted shells waiting for overprint to data management and analytics, there are a host of areas where you can help your clients gain efficiencies and reduce operational costs.

Fastest Growing Print Applications by Growth Rate

Source: U.S. Digital Production Printing Application Forecast 2018–2023, Keypoint Intelligence –InfoTrends.

Transactional Applications Driving the Market Will Continue to Expand and Diversify

Over time, transactional print applications and volumes will continue to evolve. An important outcome of a digital press investment is determining how to leverage the accompanying capabilities. The foundation for continued growth is dependent on how well you understand the needs of your customer’s audience and how effectively you take your newly enabled applications to market. For example, a recent study from Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends revealed that although many consumers continue to value mail-based communications, they want easier-to-understand content with the relevant information upfront. Additional findings indicate they’re not opposed to the use of creative elements like charts, drawings, and pictures on the transactional documents they receive in the mail.

Transactional print providers must focus on continuous improvement in their quest to better serve customers. Today’s technologies are making it easier than ever to combine transactional data with promotional messaging, so it is no surprise TransPromo is growing. As shown in Figure 1, TransPromo ranks within the top 10 fastest-growing print applications.

Direct Mail

New studies continue to support what we’ve known for a while: even in today’s digital world, printed materials make a lasting impression. This is very likely one of the reasons direct mail is making a resurgence. In 2020, another key factor for success will be relevant marketing messages powered by highly personalized content. Communicating across a wider range of channels will generate better results, and Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends’ research confirms direct mail remains a key communication channel.

Top 15 Printing Applications by Page Growth

Source: U.S. Digital Production Printing Application Forecast 2018–2023, Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends.

Invest in Smart Print Manufacturing

Continuous improvements in the manufacturing process are a mainstay for profitable growth within transactional and direct mail print organizations. The use of highly sensitive data leaves no room for error, and any personalization must be relevant to be effective. Automation, lean manufacturing, and process improvements help ensure PSPs meet SLAs and regulatory requirements. Sound workflow practices in 2020 will propel firms into the future and prepare them for business growth.

2020 Will Unveil What Was Once the Future

Today’s transactional and direct mail providers must continue to focus on business processes and practices to capture growth. As a drupa year, 2020 will undoubtedly deliver many new insights and opportunities. The industry continues to evolve, as does the role of PSPs. Moving forward, adopting new disciplines to deliver relevant communications to the customers’ audience can be the difference between survival and growth. Download Keypoint Intelligence—InfoTrends’ full 2020 Road Map white paper to learn more about the strategies that can enable you to make better business decisions, craft strategies, and implement plans to innovate your operations throughout the year.

Did you know… Direct mail is expected to increase its volume by more than 17 billion pages by 2023.