We have truly entered the age of the consumer and as marketers we must not forget that our customers and prospects are not the audience, they are participants in the conversation.  We are marketing to highly engaged individuals with more choices, offers, and product research at their fingertips than ever before.   

Fortunately, digital print technology has enabled us to more effectively and economically communicate with our customers and prospects.  Recent innovations in continuous, full-color variable printing has greatly reduced the cost of color personalization while also giving service providers and marketers the ability to communicate to a larger market segment in a shorter period of time (fast presses - lower cost per impression - very quick turn times).

My experience in the world of high-volume, highly customized direct mail has shown that by applying the right customer intelligence (and it doesn't have to be much data) with a few relevant images or graphics can lead to breakthrough campaign results.  Simple touch points such as retail brand loyalty, rewards choices, and dining and travel history can drive increases in response and conversion ratesof 50%+ (especially in cross sell scenarios).

Personalization is no longer enough...today's game is all about engaging our customer or prospect with relevant information that gets them emotionally involved in the offer.  Marketers can no longer afford to make broad generalizations about their targets, they need to leverage the data at hand (and most have it) into a highly personalized and engaging message.  This is especially crucial in the area of loyalty marketing as current customers expect a certain level of knowledge and are immediately drawn to products/services that appear to be created based on their behaviors.

Truth be told, it's a bit more complicated than simply combining some customer insight with the proper output device.  The critical piece is making sure to partner with a provider that truly understands data, digital asset management, and how to coordinate complex campaign metrics into an automated marketing platform.  Once this platform is built, you have all the makings of a world-class (repeatable) acquisition, retention, cross sell, or transpromotional marketing campaign.