Why you actually can start ‘small’ with ‘Big Data‘ to boost the success of mail

We have recently conducted a survey among British marketing agencies and marketing departments to find out more about the future of direct mail (or ‘advertising mail’, as it is often called in Great Britain). Together with the British DMA (Direct Marketing Association), we invited both marketing agencies and companies to share their view on this specific communication medium.

The results of this survey have been released as a report (called ‘Mail Matters’, published on March 25th by the British DMA) and those of you who are interested in the details are more than welcome to download the study using the following link:


The report was full of useful findings, e.g. that the majority of respondents still consider direct mail a trusted and effective medium (which it is) but a minority of respondents is concerned that direct mail may be considered as ‘junk mail’ (which it is only  if you don’t make it relevant for the recipient!). A conclusion was that the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ seem to have acquired relatively little knowhow about the production and use of direct mail, so that they concentrate on online marketing activities.

DMA research Five Segments of advertising mail

However, most of the respondents  can still be considered ‘loyal fans’ of direct mail although the research revealed that they are expecting more from the medium (and, in the case of agencies,  from their clients). One of the barriers for more successful direct mail obviously is the ‘lack of data and data analytics’. The data, however, is already there … but it can seem difficult to fully harness, so let’s have a closer look at the issue of analytics:

In recent months more and more focus has been put on how much value ‘analysing Big Data’ could bring. Despite the fact that ‘Big Data’ has become a marketing buzzword and that many decision makers are unsure of exactly what Big Data is, a whole industry has formed to help marketers to identify the best target groups and create customer profiles.

Starting with ‘Big Data analytics’ might at first sound like David’s fight against Goliath (also known as the data monster).  A marketer will learn that consumer data is stored among multiple databases and that the format and content of the databases heavily depends on the application (CRM, sales database etc).

In order to get a full, 360 degree view of your customers an immediate task is to consolidate the data from those different data sources (basically ‘copy’ all datasets into one big Excel  or .csv file). Once you have done that you will be confronted with the fact  that one and the same customer’s data occupies more than one database; in other words, you have found ‘duplicates’. A deduping exercise is therefore needed. In addition to that, important data fields like the gender (which determines the salutation) are not always filled, foreign names are not recognised  correctly  or the address is written with many different variations.

So a first small, but very important, step in data analytics is ‘data cleansing and data enrichment’. Don’t think that this must be a manual process. As long as you can transform the data from the different sources into one and the same format (e.g .csv-files) you can use appropriate tools. Such software comes with built-in intelligence (and algorithms) to understand which data belongs to one and the same customer. Most of them come as a SaaS (software as a service), run by European companies following the strictest EU data privacy laws (Ricoh is currently developing such a tool with an authorised RiDP = Ricoh Development Partner). Large corporations might prefer local installations and regular local updates and upgrades.

My recommendation is to take ‘data cleansing’ and ‘data enrichment’ seriously. Today’s tools can not only improve the quality of your general data but can also check whether email addresses are valid or if GSM mobile phone numbers are still in use. The cost of this first small step (data cleansing and data enrichment) is relatively modest.  More good news is that such state-of-the-art algorithms to clean your data can be built into all your existing (and future) web forms so that no bad data will find its way into your databases.

Once your general data quality has improved, you will be ready for true data analytics. Ricoh and alliance partner SAS can ‘calculate’ the likelihood of your customers buying further products or services (called predictive data analytics), so that you can concentrate your focus and improve the effectiveness of your actions.

So: mastering the (big) data monster should start with small steps, with ‘data cleansing and enrichment’ at the beginning of the list. After that, getting full customer insights using data analytical software should be second. Once you have created customer profiles and target groups, talk to us so that we can combine your data insights with our dynamic document composition tools to create the truly personalised pieces of customer communication which can make direct mail so successful.

This process actually is what we call ‘Precision Marketing’. Learn more about Ricoh’s Precision Marketing practice on YouTube and see e.g. how retailers can benefit from data-analytics and mail.

Your opportunities are endless! Let’s take the first steps together…

How print is evolving to meet the new needs of the connected world

With more than one-third of the world’s population now online (Pew Research Center), it is little wonder that the role of printed communications is changing. The challenge is that the time spent with various media is rapidly shifting from traditional channels such as radio, TV, and print to internet and mobile channels. This means the role of printed communications must be readjusted and redefined in the broad spectrum of all media.

Time spent on each Media vs Advertising Spend

Time spent on each Media vs Advertising Spend

Not surprisingly advertising dollars are now moving to online and mobile markets. According to PWC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2013, internet advertising grew by about 16%, and mobile advertising by 47% in 2013.

This has major implications for key areas of printed communications of interest to Print Service Providers.

Direct mail and direct marketing catalogue volume has suffered at the hands of the recent recession and the rise of electronic media. Although both remain key marketing channels for businesses, they are increasingly being orchestrated alongside digital forms of communications.

Transactional printing – unlike direct mail and catalogues, which are business-driven marketing expenditures, transactional printing is increasingly consumer-driven since recipients dictate their preferred delivery methods

Books – Electronic media has profoundly disrupted the book publishing industry by fundamentally altering the dynamics of how books are sold and consumed. Book publishers and book printers are adjusting to the fast moving realities of the market and tapping new business models enabled by publishing in a multichannel world.

Newspapers and magazines have been impacted by online advertising, rising postal costs, and competition from electronic media. Newspapers and magazines remain widely read and trusted, however, and publishers are finding new and innovative ways to combine print with electronic channels.

Our new white paper, Multichannel Communications The Evolution of Printing in a Connected World,  examines how advertisers and publishers are adapting printed products to multichannel realities in a number of key markets: direct mail and direct marketing catalogues; transactional printing; books; and newspapers and magazines.

Download the white paper here

Ricoh Infographic – the power of Direct Mail

Direct mail is a vital node in the ‘connected world’ we live in. It’s a powerful medium. People like it. Respond to it. Act on it. In a blended campaign, Direct Mail creates an impact that’s more effective than digital marketing alone. In fact, in 2013, Central Mailing Services figures showed that nearly half the UK population responded to traditionally printed direct mail over the past year. Below are the seven reasons why integrating Direct Mail into your next campaign will help you market most effectively today and for many years to come.

  1.  The Mail moment – Consumers regard personalised direct mail as the trusted medium for customer communication
  2. Make People Act – 79% of consumers react to direct mail immediately
  3. The Sensory Experience – Direct Mail has a long shelf life – two thirds of consumers keep their mail
  4. Precision Targeting – top three reasons why people open mail:  contact from known brands and companies (51%), Personally
    addressed (47%), information about products or services of interest 40%
  5. Get creative – structural dimensional mail can have 20 times the penetrating power of flat direct mail
  6. Fantastic ROI –  most important more often than any other touchpoint in the consumer’s purchasing process
  7. Effectiveness – 48% of UK adults have done something in the last 12 months as result of mailing
The Power of Direct Mail

The Power of Direct Mail


Ricoh Direct Mail Infographic (PDF)

Find out more about Ricoh’s Solutions for Direct Mail

More statistics about Direct Mail – see: http://www.centralmailing.co.uk/


Europe’s medium-sized businesses gear up to capitalise on Big Data

Big dataIn a study of European business leaders, commissioned by Ricoh[1], just one in five medium sized business leaders chose Big Data as a driver when asked to rank the technology-led activities that are having the biggest positive impact on business growth. However, further insight shows that the top three key business growth drivers for business leaders of medium sized businesses are in fact data related – first is optimising business critical processes, followed by digitising hard copy documents and  making the transition to cloud computing.  So albeit under a different name, it is clear that medium sized businesses are gearing up to capitalise on the increased benefits of better data management.

We often hear medium sized business owners comment that their data is not vast enough to be classified as Big Data – that it’s an area for larger organisations to worry about.  So, while some don’t connect with the Big Data term and may not share the same number of terabytes as their peers in larger organisations, they are not overlooking the growth of their unstructured data, which is believed to be outpacing the growth in structured data three to one[2].

The reality is they are already taking steps to manage it and many are in a strong position to do so. The Ricoh sponsored research1 also shows that the majority of CIOs in medium sized business are more empowered today to change data business intelligence processes (61 per cent) and customer engagement processes (52 per cent) than the CIOs of large businesses, where 55 per cent are empowered to change data business intelligence processes and 46 per cent to customer engagement processes.

Additionally, the SMB Group Report ‘2012 SMB Routes to Market Study’ shows that 57 per cent of medium businesses have already purchased or upgraded a business intelligence/analytics solution in the past 24 months, and 49 per cent plan to do so in the next 12 months.

How to stay at the front

There are clear indicators that the race has begun for medium sized businesses to benefit from Big Data.  But how can business leaders ensure that they gain return on investment and remain at the front of the race.  Success will depend on the route taken to change the traditional ways of working, optimise data analytics and enhance customer communications.

A study by Techaisle of 3,360 businesses shows that ‘the highest success rate (determined by reaching a successful implementation of a big data project within six months of initiation) was achieved when an external consultant or organisation was brought in to develop proof of concept, advice on database architecture and ultimately develop the big data analytics solution.’

Such findings correspond with our experiences.  Medium sized businesses are less likely to have a dedicated data analyst. The responsibility is usually in the remit of an employee who is still trying to catch up with the fast rate of development of new tools and techniques for data analytics, and they must achieve it on top of a number of other important business activities. 

Ricoh can ease the pressure of the overwhelmed employee and work alongside them to make a difference quickly.  Often we will carry out data consolidation projects (to consolidate data stored in different data silos) and data analytical projects. The goal of those initiatives is not only to improve control but also to increase sales through truly personal and relevant customer communication across all channels. We will also combine data analytics, dynamic document composition, multi-channel output management and campaign reporting (we can provide the FusionPro portfolio of personalised cross media solutions across EMEA); thereby relieving our clients of the need to make large pre-investments in new data analytical software and hardware, as well as employing a range of different, specialist third parties to prepare, execute and evaluate their personalised marketing or communications campaigns. Clients can also opt for an initial pilot to test drive the service, and get a better insight into the potential for their business.  This can be implemented in as little as six weeks which can be a critical factor in this fast-changing field.

For example, at Ricoh we conducted a Precision Marketing workshop for bonprix, a German fashion retailer, which resulted in truly individualised catalogues (personalised catalogue covers), based on data analytics and customer profiling. Barthel Roitzsch, Head of Sales, bonprix (a member of the German Otto group) told us, “The personalisation of our catalogue covers and the relevant customer communication has led to a significant increase in response rates and to increased awareness for our products”.  We can also deliver location-based services and mobile customer loyalty solutions with one of our business partners, BizScience. This service is already reaping benefits for medium sized businesses across various industry sectors, including banking, insurance and retail.

Keep on winning

Benoit Chaterlard

Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA

Whether business leaders continue with their external partner or decide the benefits gained now justify an internal data analyst, the process must keep evolving to ensure the business continues to focus beyond gathering data to analysing and acting on the insights.   This is the only way to get newer insights into the impacts of business operations and learn more about their customers as they continue to engage with the businesses products and services.

And the end results can see businesses transform their customer relationships, increase sales, pursue more efficient operations and improve customer service.


Big data – small communications

Bigdata_smallMany people are talking about the need for Print Service Providers (PSPs) to become “Marketing Service Providers”.  The theory appears compelling.

  • Printing services are increasingly competitive
  • Print is becoming more and more of a commodity
  • Therefore PSPs need to move into high margin, value-added services in order to survive

Marketing services are high margin, value-added services.

As many PSPs have told us, actually making this transition is not always easy.  The world of marketing services is a very crowded market, with competition from large multinational agencies to small one person consultancies.  At first sight, then, it might seem that PSPs have little chance of competing in this market.

The good news is that we believe that the latest trends in Marketing, and especially Big Data that are actually opening up significant opportunities for savvy PSPs to compete. Matt Guest, Senior Manager at Deloitte Strategy Consulting practice, speaking at the 2012 CMA Content Management summit,* summed up the opportunity well:

 “The print industry has a phenomenal opportunity at the moment to position itself right at the start of a customer’s journey and make itself invaluable … print is about to launch a comeback and position itself at the heart of brand marketing.”

The latest trends in Marketing favour a print comeback

Over the last 10 years print has lost the top spot to digital as the primary communication vehicle. However, things are changing.

First, when digital marketing tactics – and especially email – first became commonplace, it was attractive as it offered, speed, low cost and measurability.  But it isn’t perfect and presented similar challenges such as: how to manage the data or knowledge gained; how to integrate it within the business and how to make the message stand out in a world of information overload.

What’s more reports increasingly demonstrate that digital marketing techniques don’t always meet expectations and are not always the best way to deliver effective campaigns.

According to the DMA* direct mail is now 10 to 30 times more effective than email (and other digital channels such as Social Media have similar low rates).


Responses per 1,000


Direct Mail






One of the big issues with email is spam. Since 2001 email spam has grown significantly from almost 9-10% of all email in 2001-2 to 64.8% in October 2012. Source: Symantec*

Added to this, reports confirm that there remains a strong preference from consumers for printed communications.  And it’s not just the older generations but amongst the young as well. According to research by the Royal Mail*:  “UK teenagers have a positive attitude to mail, particularly if they’re sent customer magazines or money-off vouchers, yet this cost-conscious audience is under-mailed by marketers and advertisers … 32% of 15-19 year olds have done something in the past 12 months as a result of the direct mail they’ve received, with 24% buying a product or service.”

In fact, more and more research shows that customers expect a multichannel experience with their brands, combining a mixture of print, online / digital. According to InfoSys* offline media such as print have a major impact on online purchases.

Infosys Infographic2

Opportunities for marketing print: BIG data … SMALL communications

Marketers are now looking for more sophisticated ways to reach their customers with the right message, at the right time, using the right combination of communication channels – print, digital, mobile, social media.

“In this world of multimedia, we believe using a variety of media is the most effective way of getting our message across,” Sheila Richardson, BP (PrintWeek, 23 August 2012)*

In the book “Precision Marketing – maximising revenue through relevance” by Ricoh’s Sandra Zoratti*, we see that 60% of Chief Marketing Officers said they are focused on reaching their buyers in more relevant and contextual ways through better profiling, targeting and segmenting.

It is the availability of higher and higher volumes of data (otherwise known as Big Data) that is now providing marketing brands with unprecedented insights into their customers.  The net result of these changes is that marketing departments are increasingly refocusing their efforts on using data to create more targeted, value-added campaigns.

As Ashley Friedlein, Chief Executive of eConsultancy explains in a recent article in Marketing Week*, “one-to-one marketing is back, and this time it’s personal.”

Opportunities for PSPs to compete

In this new world of targeted marketing, the key focus is on creating a value-added effective communication, which works across multiple channels – and that is great news for PSPs for several reasons.

First, print is acknowledged as one of the most effective forms of communication and therefore should not be seen just as a commodity.  It is a great vehicle for communicating brand values in a tangible form.

“Our view is that catalogues remain a very important part of the marketing mix. One of the most cost-effective ways of getting someone to visit a website is to send them a catalogue”, Marketing Director Tony Preedy, Lakeland.  (Print Week, 23 August 2012)

Secondly, creative agencies don’t always have print skills.  Since a crucial component of any cross media campaign is consistency this creates an opportunity for PSPs to add value by advising on critical areas like colour management.

PSPs can also have a strong role in advising on the latest developments in digital print and how to create value-added marketing print. Such as high impact direct mail, beautiful brochures and catalogues and use of personalisation.

How you can take advantage of these opportunities

First and foremost… it’s important to assess your own strengths. Few PSPs can become full Marketing Service Providers overnight.  Many will prefer to move step-by-step, service by service, towards their goals.

There are usually plenty of opportunities, starting with your own client base, to introduce new services. In this way you can focus on niche areas where you can add value, without leaving behind your core business – print.

Changing together

Start small, grow fast – A good example of starting small is Elletra, now a Marketing Services agency in Italy. It was looking to gain new business by expanding its range of services, and build client loyalty by providing a fast and professional service.

Elletra started by focusing on improving service to its existing clients. It did this by implementing a web-to-print portal, which allows clients to purchase customised print services online – on demand. Since introducing its web-to-print strategy, Elettra has established a national client base and more than doubled its sales turnover.

Full colour variable data printing – In a recent survey, Printview* identified that full colour variable printing is the top opportunity (at 70%) for PSPs to generate new revenue. It’s undoubtedly a growing area.

According to Barb Pellow of InfoTrends* – in the US over 34% of mail pieces in US were personalised in 2011. “Between 2009 and 2011, personalization rates experienced a stunning 46% growth rate.”

Some PSPs are concerned that variable data requires specialist and hence expensive skills and technology. However there are many variable data print jobs – particularly in the B2B market – which are smaller scale.

For example SAP* recently won an award for a B2B campaign  which featured high impact direct mail to reach just 17 key British energy contacts.

One option for PSPs is to outsource the data requirement – e.g. analysis, targeting and segmentation. There are a variety of specialist companies including Ricoh that can provide this service. This means that PSPs could focus on creating high quality, high impact deliverables that are consistent with the campaign creatives.

Cross media – Most campaigns today will involve a mix of online, email and print and other channels. Clients are often looking for one supplier to manage the entire campaign so that there is consistency across all of the elements within it.

Using the latest cross media software and digital printing, PSPs can be well suited to fulfilling this role. The latest cross media software tools can be simple to learn and there are hosted versions available so that you do not need to install the software locally.

Talk the talk – selling marketing services will often involve selling to different people within your client’s business, and this requires a different approach.

Whereas for a typical print job you would liaise with a print buyer, with marketing services you will typically be dealing with other senior contacts – usually within the marketing department. You will need to approach this more like a marketing agency – identifying solutions to their business needs and campaign objectives.

Although this can be challenging, longer term this will work to your advantage as you will be building more strategic relationships with your clients.


The opportunities are there for PSPs. Probably more than many realise.

There will always be a need for quality print – so we would advise PSPs to build upon and enhance their print expertise rather than try to move too quickly to become a full Marketing Services Provider.

Graham Moore -business development director for Ricoh Europe

Graham Moore -Director Business Development, Ricoh Europe

PSPs can implement marketing services at their own pace, step-by-step to suit their own expertise, client base and aspirations.

Finally, one last thought:  if you don’t compete for marketing services then your competitors probably will, which means it’s very much in your long term business interests to take this opportunity.

For more insights from Ricoh see:  ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond


*Matt Guest, Open CMA magazine, Winter 2012

*DMA “DMA Survey Shows Snail Mail, Phone Beat Digital in Response Rates”, June 2012

*Symantec, “Great News for Email Users: Spam Rates Dropped by Nearly 10 Percent in October 2012”

*Royal Mail  “Consumer insights – direct mail and people aged 15-19”, August 2011

*InfoSys:  “Infographic – Bridging the gap between offline and online” September 2012

* “Precision Marketing – maximising revenue through relevance” by Ricoh’s Sandra Zoratti **Ashley Friedlein, “One to one marketing is back, and this time it is personal”, Marketing Week December 2012

* “PrintView – Companies Focus on Customers for Big Data”* January 2013

*Best use of Direct Mail: SAP, B2B Marketing magazine Jan 2013

*Barb Pellow, “VDP: The Market Matures and Becomes ‘Print Plus’, Nov 2012

CXM and Document-driven processes… the perfect storm for rebooting the transactional print opportunity ?

For years transactional output – bills, statements, letters, policy documents and so on – has been seen as a poor relation of marketing communications – if indeed it has any relationship at all. However, a perfect storm could be brewing as recent developments in marketing thinking, combined with the latest digital printing technologies may just be about to propel this sector of the printing industry to the forefront.

Customer Experience Management – the next big thing for marketers?

More and more organisations are now focused on the need to provide a better total customer experience (sometimes called the customer journey) – as a means not only to secure customer loyalty in difficult economic times, but also to create competitive advantage. In fact, in the ultra-competitive industries such as Insurance , Energy and Financial Services the quality of the customer experience may well be one of the only ways of differentiating from your competition: –

“Over the last few decades, we have seen competitive advantage moving from the manufacturing and distribution sectors (think Ford or Tesco) to controlling or using information (Google or MBNA). Yet the future may see customer experience become the differentiating source of success and dominance.” Marketing Week*

The latest research from IDC, sponsored by Ricoh (Organizational Blind Spot: The Role of Document-Driven Business Processes in Driving Top-Line Growth, IDC Sept 2012) identifies how Customer-facing document processes have a major impact on the bottom line. In particular:

• Among consumers who are dissatisfied with companies’ document processes, 60.1% would switch to another provider and 56.8% would likely tell others about their dissatisfaction.

Source: Organizational Blind Spot: The Role of Document-Driven Business Processes in Driving Top-Line Growth, IDC Sept 2012

Where Transactional comes in

So what has this to do with transactional output? Customer documents – the bills, statements, letters, formal communications – are a key element of document processes. Therefore Transactional documents have a key but often overlooked role in customer experience.

The iceberg effect: Transactional documents are “below” the waterline and out of sight of Marketing Departments

In some industries like Utilities, of all the many forms of customer communications, it’s the bills, statements, letters and so on that the customer sees most and therefore these have a key role to play in the customer experience. Major organisations like Retail Banks send out hundreds of millions of customer documents a year. This number of touches far exceeds customer touches that could be achieved cost-effectively via direct marketing activities.

That’s why some people talk of the iceberg effect. Whereas – in the mind of marketers – websites, ad campaigns, social media, and such are above the waterline, transactional documents are out of their line of sight, and so can be described as below the waterline.

In fact in Marketing Week Magazine**, June 2012, Ian Peters, Managing Director of Energy at British Gas is quoted as saying

“For most customers, energy bills are the single most important communication they receive from British Gas. They are the key to understanding exactly what’s been used, and what it’s costing.”

And of course, it’s these types of document that customers will pay more attention to. According to Matt Swain, associate director of document outsourcing at InfoTrends***:

• On average, consumers spend up to four minutes reading and reviewing these documents
• recipients open and read 95% of transactional documents, substantially more than any other type of mail.

Therefore Transactional documents are significant “moments of truth” between the brand and their clients: in this way they provide literally millions of opportunities for brand awareness and quality conversations.

However transactional output does not get the same organisational attention as other forms of customer communications. Web sites, mobile, social media, direct mail and advertising, communications are managed by marketing teams, whereas, too often, perhaps, transactional output is managed by the IT department with a focus on meeting internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and driving down cost – rather than enhancing the customer experience.

Therefore perhaps it is little surprise that transactional documents can often lack the creative flair of corporate web sites / adverts / direct mail. As stated in an article in Marketing Week July 2012****, “Such information, however, is rarely presented with a great deal of élan. Instead information is presented in prosaic manner, seemingly designed to have the bare minimum of impact.”

Of course, there is a trend for organisations to try to move away from printed transactional documents – mainly on the basis of cost-reduction. However in practice few organisations have actually gone completely paperless for their transactional documents. This is mainly due to:

• consumer resistance
• lack of good alternatives.

According to InfoTrends**, despite many years of pressure on consumers to go paperless, printed transactional statements still account for 85% of all statements in 2011, and paper-based delivery of transactional documents in the US is forecast to decline by only 5.2 % from 2010 to 2015. Interestingly the total volume of transactional communications is forecast to rise in this period by over 3%.

Source: InfoTrends The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services: Moving Beyond Online Bill Consolidation in the U.S. 2011

There are signs that the marketing world is beginning to wake up to the opportunities. According to Marketing Week****

“There is a canvas available that is being criminally under-utilised. The same care and attention – tone, creativity and message – needs to be adopted for all communication opportunities and not just those that are traditionally labelled marketing.”

So how can marketers take advantage of this opportunity and start to use this canvas as part of the total customer experience?

The perfect storm – using the latest technologies to enhance customer experience through transactional documents

First, don’t think transactional document. Think customer communications. Transactional does not have to mean printed. Increasingly, documents are becoming multichannel. With the latest workflows and document creation technologies customer documents can be electronic, mobile and printed. And offline can be integrated with online for a consistent and enhanced customer experience.

Second, transaction document production should be seen as a way to generate new business opportunities and not just as a cost centre.

Third, consider consolidating and merging messages. Marketing departments already use transactional mailings to get across key offers and messages but this is usually a separate activity, where transactional documents are often delivered with unpersonalised inserts and flyers. Sometimes this is even a separate mailing.

Fourth, harness the latest digital technologies. Traditionally transactional documents are printed in mono on headed paper. However this restricts flexibility and makes it difficult to use colour effectively in documents. Using the very latest workflows and colour digital printing it is now cost-effective to personalise every part of every document. This means that messages can be consolidated which not only reduces cost but also creates a more concise, personalised communication.

A good example of this is DocaPost, a subsidiary of La Poste Group in France. The company supports businesses and government agencies by optimising customer related communication processes. Docapost is using Ricoh technology to add value to customer communications through design improvements, such as incorporating colour and personal messaging in documents, and minimising production costs by introducing more efficient, automated processes.

The company champions the transformation of statements and other seemingly humdrum transactional documents into high-impact communication tools. Working on behalf of its clients, Docapost-DPS produces millions of transpromotional documents every week.

Another great example is Multi-Post, a leading provider of mailing solutions in the Netherlands. Using colour variable data printing technology within its automated production process, Multi-Post integrates plastic cards with eye-catching one-to-one mailing pieces.

The approach adds value, presenting businesses with the opportunity to incorporate powerful promotional messages that drive loyalty and help sell associated services. One leading health insurer uses Multi-Post’s service to distribute 1.3 million health cards every year. The cards are integrated with a personalised policy document and a cover letter promoting additional services.

Finally using the latest Precision Marketing techniques, organisations can introduce better targeting which not only reduces waste but also can increase response rates and, above all, ROI. For example, an organisation could send out a document with a different look and feel for VIP clients than for low-value clients.

Maybe the time is right for organisations to exploit the conditions of the perfect storm to reinvent transactional documents into a more powerful, more effective customer communications vehicle, no longer the poor relation but central to the business strategy.

Benoit Chaterlard

Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA

Benoit Chatelard
General Manager Solutions, Ricoh Production Printing Group, EMEA

For more Insights from Ricoh see: ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond


*Marketing Week,September 2012 “ I see no reason why CMOs shouldn’t also take customer experience under their wing”
**Marketing Week, June 2012, “British Gas launches billing for ‘dummies’”
***Response Magazine, October 2012 “Transpromo — marketing via transactional customer communications — gains new life with new technology and some good, old-fashioned know-how.”
****InfoTends, December 2011, “The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services: Moving Beyond Online Bill Consolidation in the U.S.”
****Marketing Week, July 2012, “A bill is too valuable an opportunity to be left with anyone but a marketer”

How can Predictive Data Analytics optimise marketing and sales?

More and more organisations are facing an explosion of what is now called Big Data.  Data can now come from  social networks, high volume business transactions, logs, analysis, monitoring and analytics.   For marketers this presents a golden opportunity to uncover ground-breaking insights and generate transformational business value from the intelligence within the data.

Yet, according to recent research by IBM (Marketing Week, Sept 2012), marketing departments are not always ready to take advantage of this data:  71 per cent of CMOs surveyed felt ill equipped to deal with data coming at them from all directions.

Javier Diez-Aguirre, Ricoh Europe’s director of corporate communications says: “The question shouldn’t be about how you manage big data, but how you are continuing to encourage imagination versus data.

“It’s about ensuring that you know where analysis paralysis ends and action starts, or we will never be able to embrace this new era of customer-led innovation.”

Ricoh’s new Service

Ricoh’s Predictive Data Analytics is a new service designed to help European small to medium size companies and their marketing or print service providers take advantage of this data and thereby increase the success of their marketing campaigns by targeting customers with a high likelihood to respond.

But how does it work? How can you successfully unlock ‘big data’?

 Benoit Chatelard, General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, Ricoh Europe, spoke to data analyst at Ricoh USA , Ganesh Kumaraswamy to explore the science behind Ricoh’s new Precision Marketing business line.

Benoit Chatelard explores the science behind the magic of Predictive Data Analytics. Click on the image to watch the video

Making sense of the data

“The background to successful data analytics is in the huge amount of data available today – so called ‘big data’. We all leave data tracks when we shop in a retail store, sign a policy with an insurance company or submit an order on the internet, for example”, explains Ganesh Kumaraswamy.

 And it’s the explosion of this data on the internet, which now helps companies learn much more about their customers. Customer demographics as well as purchase history and spend levels are easily available now for example.

 “So what do you do with this ‘big data’? How do you use statistical information to build a predictive data model?”, asks Benoit.

 “It’s a step-by-step process”, says Ganesh, “but the first step is crucial – you must define the goal.

This is what will drive the Precision Marketing strategy.  Are you trying to create a customer re-activation programme, or to optimise stock ratios for a retail outlet? Each of these is different, and requires a clear definition”.

Building the Predictive Model

“So once you know what you are trying to achieve, you can look at the attributes that have an impact on outcomes, correct?  And then you can build a predictive model?” asks Benoit.

“That is exactly how it works”, confirms Ganesh. “We take the historical data and the attributes and we work out role models. Then the Ricoh modeler software creates a data model which predicts possible future customer behaviour and, as a consequence, business results. This process can be applied to thousands of attributes and millions of transactions, if needed. And the more historical data we get, the better the model we can build.”

‘Scoring’ the Data

“Data Analysts often talk about scorecards and measuring the data – can you describe how this works?” Benoit asks Ganesh.

 “A scorecard scores each single customer, based on the likelihood that he will buy or accept an offer, for example.  This means that we can then identify the target group with the highest positive response levels.”

 Using Precision Marketing in your business

“So what’s your advice to a small or medium size European company that wants to introduce Precision Marketing techniques to its’ business? How can they start using Predictive Data Analytics?

“Our message is ‘test it with Ricoh’. We offer workshops and pilot-programmes so you can trial Precision Marketing techniques in your business”, explains Ganesh.

“You can see the results without investing in data-analytical software and specialised staff. The Ricoh Precision Marketing team analyses the data and creates the model based on our tools”.  It’s a great way to test the technology and see the results, without the risk of a large financial investment” advises Ganesh Kumaraswamy.

Who is using Data Analytics now?

“Many companies are already using data analytics – the retail world is now really familiar with these models and uses them to calculate required stock levels in each single outlet of a chain based on customer demographics and purchase history”, continues Ganesh.  “And of course ‘predictive data analytics’ is also big in the banking- & finance world for cross- & upselling.”

Find out more

If you would like to hear more about how to discover the business opportunities which are hidden in your data or your clients’ data contact your local Ricoh Production Printing consultant or get in touch via precisionmarketing@ricoh-europe.com , or see  http://www.ricoh-europe.com/services-solutions/production-printing/index.aspx

For more Insights from Ricoh see:  ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond