Remember the Reese’s Peanut Butter ads from the 1970s?  “Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” That’s how I feel about email and print together. They’re two great tastes that taste great together.

That’s why I am so excited about email-plus-print.

Here’s what has been happening behind the scenes in the digital marketing and email service provider world… and how it affects print.

#1: Email is going to become super mobilized

As a writer and producer of email newsletters for printing companies, I want my newsletters to be readable on mobile devices. Until recently, many email software providers recommended a single, narrow column as a workaround for rendering on cell phones and tablets.

Ugh! This workaround was horrible. It created odd line breaks and awkward photo wraparounds.

With newer dynamic templates, the newsletters are truly attractive on mobile. The elements – boxes, buttons, headers and graphics – flow properly. Furthermore, fonts sizes are programmed to be appropriate for viewing on a small screen. It’s all very smart and responsive.

>> Impact on print for #1: This is a big win for the print side. If we can get our customers to interact with emails on their mobile devices, customers will open emails more frequently. We can cater to their habits and preferences. If we catch a customer or prospect in a buying mood, so much the better.

#2: Data flow

It’s not the same as it ever was with email and data. Most email service providers now allow you to import data from a variety of sources. In the past, this wasn’t always a straightforward process. Over the years I’ve spent hours mapping customer data or moving it into an intermediate receptacle such as an Excel file so it could be used. These days, if printers are using a CRM, it’s likely you can move data directly from the CRM into the email contact list.

>> Impact on print for #2: When it’s time to move data from an email list over to your print-mail database, it should be as smooth as peanut butter. 

#3: Pro-fresh-ional templates 

Even a few years ago, it was difficult to find an email template that had attractive fonts, colors and design. The problem was, you could find nice templates on secondary provider sites, but they didn’t necessarily perform very well. Anything other than system fonts rarely rendered on the recipient’s end, and the graphics took forever to load.

In fact, back then, if I received a good looking email, I would take it apart to see how the sender had built it. Often it was cobbled together in many layers, with items masked or partially masked to create elements and boxes. Sometimes there was sloppy code used as a shortcut to create an effect.

In the coming year, I predict we’ll see all kinds of tasty templates.

>> Impact on print for #3: It’s always nice when there’s a design theme that carries from email to print. It doesn’t have to match exactly, but it should remind the recipient of an ongoing relationship. Good looking emails that set the stage for a print campaign are like digital eye candy for recipients.

Two great tastes

In the coming year, either email or print can lead the way in an integrated campaign. Printers can open the door with email and follow up with customized print. Or, they can throw the net wide with print and then get personal with email. Either way, seeing email mixed with print makes me as happy as a kid in a candy store!

sandy_hubbard_printmediacentr Sandy Hubbard is a marketing strategist for print and media companies that are going through extreme change or growth. She builds marketing programs that can be sustained over the long haul, with affordable tools…and without stress! Find Sandy on Twitter at @sandyhubbard each Wednesday at 4 pm ET, assisting #PrintChat host Deborah Corn @PrintMediaCentr with a lively online discussion for printers and those who love print.

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