Making a Difference with Data

Direct Mail marketing generates heightened engagement and customer response when incorporating the use of data to leverage personalization and versioning. Study after study, year after year, this is a well-documented and proven fact. With today’s data analytics tools and advanced print technologies, marketers can create highly targeted print pieces with an infinite number of variable elements per page—including fonts, text, images, graphics, and positioning.

How does it work? When creating documents with variable content, you are merging a file from a design program (such as InDesign) with a spreadsheet or database file. This can be as simple as using data from programs like Excel or Filemaker, to a more advanced approach of designing custom data integrations with CRM platforms or ERP platforms. The key to executing these projects properly is preparation and planning, so let’s look at some basic guidelines for ensuring a successful campaign.

1. The best variable data campaigns start with the data. Build a functional database with information stored in an easily searchable architecture, including basic data such as first name, last name, and mailing address, layering in adding additional data points such as individual purchase history, engagement history, demographics, gender, age, or any other element you deem useful. Your data points should include information that will help place, promote, and sell your product or service to the right people. From that database, determine the messaging, offers and timing of your variable campaign to each segment of individuals from your list will be the next step. You will have the ability to customize each recipients printed piece to each individual.

2. Assemble the data before undertaking the design. Let the data determine how to best create the design of the piece, letting the design adapt to the data.

3. Talk to your print service provider early on in the process. Their experts will have valuable advice on how to set up your data and art files, preferred formats, and other guidelines that will save you time and money, increasing the success and ROI of the campaign.

4. Each row of information on a spreadsheet represents a unique document, while each column represents a corresponding field within the document (designed as part of the artwork). Data columns can also serve as criteria for selecting variable text or images. Variable text fields can include offers, unique messaging, dates, or any text content within your database. Variable image fields can include any set of pre-chosen images that can be assigned to an image box within the document. Ask your print service provider for specific data file guidelines such delimiters and qualifiers, and guidelines for the use of multiple images that can be changed per field, per printed piece.

5. Use a simple, but consistent naming protocol for the columns, such as name, image one, image two, and place the name of the image to be used in the field into the corresponding field in the database. Be careful to use the precise name of each image. You can use .jpg, .esp or .tif extensions.

If you are doing more complex variable documents, you may have to employ a VDP application that can work with a relational database and extract the data to be used.

6. Use a program like InDesign to create the art file. Create a sample or proof indicating the positions of all the variable elements and use the precise name for the fields and for the images in each field.

7. Keep all images in one folder and be sure to not use any subfolders. Again, use precise names for all fields.

8. Best Practices when creating your art file:

  • The Long and Short of it. Check that the longest variable text from text fields will fit in the allocated space. Also check the shortest text field. Pay particular attention to text that may re-flow and wrap to the next line.
  • Don’t Be Caught Empty-Handed. Specify a default value to use if a row contains blanks in a variable column, otherwise it may result in an empty field when printed.
  • Image Size Matters. The size of your image files should be between 1 – 5 MB (not to exceed 5 MB) with a resolution of 300 dpi. Keep the range of images to be used in any specific field to be similar in size (dimensions), otherwise prepress programs will scale to fit them into the provided image box and you may experience your images being enlarged, reduced or skewed in some manner.
  • Fonts Can Be Finicky. Include all the fonts you plan to use in formats such as .otf and .ttf. Remember some styles and effects don’t carry over in the variable text, so you must attach all the fonts.
  • Decoding Codes. If you’re adding items such as barcodes or QR codes, send the information embedded in those codes.
  • Addressing Address Fields. It is best to keep address fields as individual fields rather than one single field that has all address information in it. Split the address into Address 1, Address 2, Street, City, State, Zip. BONUS: By keeping the zip code in its own field you are able to take advantage of favorable pricing for pre-sorted postal rates.

Your custom-designed variable print project deserves customized attention. Bolger understands this and has experts on-staff to guide you through the entire process—from the first step of data collection and data management to the design of the piece and each variable characteristic. We have a wealth of knowledge and assistance available to help you.

Manage Your Brand’s Communications and Campaigns—24/7/365

Many organizations, particularly those with user communities of employees, partners, and customers, face the challenge of how to manage brand communications to effectively reach these diverse audiences. And as channels and methods advance and converge, marketing and communication professionals find themselves spending more time on managing the tactics rather than building the strategy. As a result, resources are stretched and companies find themselves seeking ways to simplify the workflow of creating, producing and delivering their branded messages and campaigns across multiple platforms.

Leading Print Service Providers (PSPs) have found themselves at the center of this convergence—between print and digital communication mediums—and are helping to solve this problem by developing intuitive, customized software and dashboard solutions. They recognize that as more organizations focus on an omni-channel approach to their communication strategy, the need to have this sophisticated level of integration and management becomes critical to the success of the brand’s communications.

In response to this need for a powerful brand asset management tool, Bolger has developed SmartQ®, a comprehensive on-line platform that includes workflows and management for creating, ordering, tracking, and reporting of both digital and print communications and programs. SmartQ streamlines communication asset management and workflows across multiple channels and multiple users. It is a custom-developed, secure middleware system where authorized personnel can manage all branded assets and projects (print and digital), maintaining all company communication requirements.  When integrated with secure data sources, SmartQ serves as a centralized communication management hub. Check out our video tour here!

Wondering how SmartQ can help your organization? Think product launches, compliance and regulatory requirements, events, PR, new client acquisition, and client retention among many other scenarios.

Today’s Communication professionals are faced with the challenges of converging methods, practices and channels. Communication is complex and often leads to workflow problems that consume large amounts of time, energy and cost. Left unaddressed, many companies are spending too much time and money on creation, execution and delivery instead of strategy and new ideas. Tools are available to restore a proper time balance between executing tactics and developing strategy, putting the power back on your hands.

The Single Customer View

All marketers want to understand the customer experience in order to create more effective messages and campaigns. Yet most marketers are also keenly aware of the hurdles those messages face on their way to target audiences: unsubscribe lists, junk folders, the hit-and-miss nature of social media platforms, and often, a lack of clean and accurate data to drive those campaigns.

More specifically, companies don’t necessarily lack data, but their customer information is stored and organized so haphazardly it’s difficult to use. One way around this issue is to adopt the Single Customer View approach, or SCV.

SCV, also known as Unified Customer Journey, combines all available customer information into one source, creating a unified view of customers that is well structured and easy to parse. You can draw data from the main points of customer contact, including websites and mobile platforms, CRM systems, email, all types of advertising, and printed materials.

The SCV should include all customer communications and interactions, including social media comments. Companies can enhance in-house information with third-party sources to further drive intelligence. Organizations should focus on the most useful criteria, whether that is demographic segmentation, purchase history, or highly individualized data.

 

The Benefits of the Single Customer View

Merging your silos of information offers many benefits.

Critically, you’ll work with clean, accurate and de-duped data. You can plan your campaigns without worrying about data errors. Nothing damages a carefully planned and executed campaign quite as spectacularly as inaccurate information. Bad data damages trust. Once trust is gone, it’s difficult to get it back. This is especially true when striving to increase repeat customer business.

Inaccurate data also wastes money. If you have several Karen Smiths in your database can you be sure they are all same person? If not, you will spend money to send duplicate messages repeatedly and annoy customers in the process.

SCV is essential for designing good omnichannel campaigns where coherent and consistent messages are critical to avoid alienating customers.

It’s also crucial with print and direct mail, which offers definite advantages to marketers. Unlike email, consumers don’t usually block direct mail. Relevant physical mail is nearly always opened and read. Good data can make printing costs more efficient by eliminating undeliverable items, removing dupes, and augmenting data for more precise targeting.

You can achieve precise customer segmentation with SCV. Standard segmentation such as demographics, geography, website traffic behavior, or purchasing patterns are great, but a unified view of your customers can bring to light particular segments based on issues, perceptions, and other data points you hadn’t previously considered. It’s possible to be as hyper segmented as you wish.

Likewise, you may gain new insight into your customers’ journey, identify their first interaction with your organization, or assess which touch points are most effective.

Customers can easily tell when a marketer has done a slapdash job of tailoring a message and has failed to draw on their personal relationship with the company. This can negate efforts to retain clients, upsell, or gain referrals.

Creating a functional SCV can be a technical challenge that requires good data analytics skills. Yet the efforts are worth it. Talk to our data experts about how to bring order to your data and use your customer information to achieve your marketing objectives.

For Designers: Fear of Data

The world is awash in oceans of data. Every time each of us engages in a transaction, answers a survey, browses a website, hands out a business card, or contributes to an online thread, we leave a bit of information behind.

All that knowledge can be a huge help in honing relevant marketing messages that resonate with consumers. But the data ocean can also be intimidating. Before you can turn those information bits into data-driven marketing campaigns, they must be processed, organized and manipulated—a prospect that can push up anxiety levels. In addition, designers and creatives can be leery of too much data for fear it will dim the creative spark.

Some reluctance is understandable as data manipulation does require specialized skills. The good news is that Bolger Printing has an entire team of data experts on staff to help you evaluate and leverage your data. Handling the data tasks and executing on successful data-driven marketing campaigns is our goal.

Let’s look at how data can be used for maximum effect:

Data backs up the gut feel

Marketers and creatives use data even when they don’t realize it. When creatives tap into a gut feeling and energize their talent, they’re tapping into experiences, prior successes and failures, and knowledge of their audience. That’s data. A more structured approach simply brings order to the process.

Data makes messages relevant and clear

Information lets you know what your customers want. It identifies their challenges and offers insights into their buying behavior. You can use this knowledge to decide what message to send to each client or group, and when it should be delivered. This detailed audience profile—a design brief in designer speak—focuses the message, unleashes creativity, and produces a better customer experience because the targeted individuals are receiving pitches that matter to them.

Data creates fully customized experiences

Having the right data is the only way to create variable, customized, and personalized campaigns. Studies consistently show that when marketers customize messages for recipients, response rates rise along with trust in the brand. Think about the many companies that stream or recommend content based on user preferences. Your campaigns can be just as relevant and well received.

Data proves what works

Tracking the response and engagement rates of various creative approaches and campaigns will indicate what resonates with audiences, giving creatives deeper insights into the emotional triggers that hit the mark.

Data helps keep up with consumer tastes

How often have you read about companies that failed because they didn’t keep up with changing consumer tastes? If executives had been keenly attuned to purchase and browsing patterns, comments, foot traffic, or other metrics, they might have avoided business downturns. Data helps you keep up with your customers’ preferences so you can fine tune your creative initiatives.

Data can tell you how to communicate

By examining where and how your audiences receive your messages you can choose the best-working platforms. If you know that younger clients respond to social media offers and older clients like direct mail, for instance, you can adjust accordingly.

Data prioritizes your outreach

Data identifies patterns of dissatisfaction, highlighting at-risk customer segments. Are you losing long held clients? Perhaps it’s time for a customer appreciation marketing campaign. Are you not gaining traction with a younger crowd? It’s time to do something inspiring for them.

The expertise required to collect, validate, organize and manipulate reams of data is at the heart of this process. Our experts can help with all your data-management needs, leaving you to focus on finessing your strategy and your message.

2020 USPS Direct Mail Promotions

Want to Make an Impression? Send Something!

Strategic sampling makes the right impression

Everyone one likes free stuff. It’s just how we humans are wired.

Free product samples, kits, or other materials can be an effective marketing strategy that generates goodwill and customer-base growth. With today’s increasingly sophisticated technology, companies can execute this strategy with precision, timeliness, and efficiency. Physical product fulfillment can be triggered automatically to reach leads as they pass pre-defined thresholds in the sales funnel.

Sampling, or the strategy of giving away free items, is ubiquitous. Cosmetic companies are some of the highest profile deployers of this tactic, but almost all companies can use the strategy with free products, consultations, information, or services.

Several factors make sampling an ideal strategy.

  • Sampling can be cheaper than other advertising options, particularly if customers experience your product by taste, touch, or smell. Showing the attributes of a product is more effective than writing about them.
  • Product samples create goodwill among customers and can be the lynchpin of social media or direct mail campaigns.
  • Physical products can be an excellent means of getting customer feedback or testing the waters before full commercialization. Ask recipients what they think of your product and make tweaks before investing in a full-scale roll-out.
  • Free products or information can be superb lead generators. Free materials can feed your mailing list and add to important data collection. Ask customers to provide key information about their business or their buying habits and reward them with a free product or service. Timing this step to critical points in the sales funnel can be very effective.

Strategic Sampling

Timing giveaways to occur after customers have completed pre-determined tasks such as filling out a form, watching a video, or visiting a landing page may deliver the highest ROI. It ties your offer to a specific action when you can urge a lead to take the next step towards closing.

Technology-driven fulfillment methods make this process run smoothly. Leading-edge fulfillment service providers combine the best of electronic and physical fulfillment techniques, handling both products and printed materials.

Fulfillment professionals can align distribution of collateral material or promotional products with CRM systems so potential customers receive product samples at key junctures in the sales cycle. With such triggered fulfillment techniques you allow customers to experience your products when it’s the right time for them, not as part of a mass distribution exercise.

 

Offload Fulfillment Headaches

If you’re rolling out marketing programs by geographic location, strategic sampling also works. Determine the order of the locations or markets you want to reach and let your technology and service provider partners do the heavy lifting.

Additionally, materials that complement the samples can be delivered electronically via email or as printed pieces. On-demand production with digital presses can enhance and personalize printed items for more effective targeting. It’s an optimal alternative to large print runs that create inventories of materials that may become obsolete.

Sampling, like most marketing initiatives, is most effective when directed at the right audience at the right time and bolstered with a personalized message. Your fulfillment provider can handle these tasks for you and take complexity out of the equation. You needn’t worry about technology, warehousing, kitting, postal and shipping rules, tracking systems, staff time, inventory management, or other logistical challenges.

Talk to our experts at Bolger Printing to discuss how triggered fulfillment can energize your sales/lead generation strategies.

Extra Impressions of Your Message (for free)

Informed Delivery from the US Postal Service sends consumers a preview of the mail they will receive later in the day. Consumers receive a morning email that displays images of soon-to-be-delivered letter-size mail. The great news for direct mail marketers and others communicating with their customers is the USPS distributes your message in an additional channel at no charge!

This is one of the few times you can get something for nothing. The base program is automatic and requires no special preparation by the mailer. About 17 million consumers have subscribed to Informed Delivery and are receiving previews of their mail in their morning inboxes. The open rate on these emails is extraordinary-about 65 percent.

Marketers should take advantage of these extra free impressions and add compelling text and graphics or teasers to their envelopes, postcards, or self-mailers. These efforts will make the scanned pieces stand out in the morning emails and increase the chances of engagement once the physical mail pieces arrive in consumer mailboxes.

The USPS doesn’t support flats, catalogs, and magazines in the basic service, but read on to see how mailers of these materials can still take advantage of the Informed Delivery program.

 

Informed Delivery Campaigns

Mailers can substitute the default monochrome images with full color ads that include a call to action and a link. Again, the Postal Service charges nothing for this service! A campaign requires little extra work. Most times, the artwork and landing pages will already exist as part of your marketing campaign. Mailers can work with print and mail service providers like Bolger Printing to design and submit an Informed Delivery campaign.

Informed Delivery presents full color ads first in the list of a consumer’s daily summary of mail pieces. A link in the ad can lead directly to landing pages for special sales, donation collection, event sign ups, video demonstrations, customer online portals, and more. Mailers can include flats, catalogs, and magazines in their Informed Delivery campaigns featuring substitute images.

If you’ve been thinking about running a multi-channel campaign, Informed Delivery is an easy and inexpensive way to start.

 

High Value/Low Cost

To make Informed Delivery campaigns even more effective, segment your mailing list. Your customers will see different graphics or links, depending on criteria you declare. A bank for instance, might provide links to different branches depending on the mail recipient’s location. Or an airline might alter their offer according to consumer loyalty points. The possibilities for targeted marketing, including extra free impressions and website links, are endless.

After the mailing, the US Postal Service compiles Informed Delivery campaign statistics. Mailers can view detailed reports on campaign delivery dates, email opens, and clickthroughs. Pre-mailing file analysis is also available so you can estimate the number Informed Delivery subscribers in your target zip codes or on your mailing list.

The US Postal Service runs promotions to encourage mailers to give Informed Delivery a try. Call us to hear about the schedule for the next promotional period and save money on postage while still doubling your impressions for free. It can’t get any better than that!

Learn more about the Informed Delivery program and see a personalized video explanation at www.usps.com/business/informed-delivery.htm. Don’t worry about the technical items or campaign set-up steps. The mailing experts at Bolger Printing will take care of those details for you. To experience Informed Delivery for yourself, sign up at www.informeddelivery.com. Within a few days you will receive your digest of daily mail via email. Once you see how it works, call us to double the impact of your next direct mail project.

Best Practices for Images

Nothing beats the beauty of a crisp and finely detailed printed image. Or the rush of cracking open a book fresh off the press. At the same time, printing can be a complicated process with multiple variables and exacting specifications for sending a file to print.

To make the process less complex, let’s have a look at how to handle three of the most common problem areas: color, bleeds, and resolution.

For detailed guidance about file specifications, please refer to our file preparation page.

 

Color

Getting colors right is a common issue, so let’s start with the basics. Your computer uses a color space called RGB (red, green, blue) to produce all the colors you see on the screen. A printing press uses the CMYK color space made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to produce printable colors. This is known as the four-color process.

Before you send files to a printer, you must convert RGB to CMYK in your design software, such as InDesign.

The difference between the two color spaces can be significant. RGB produces bright and vibrant screen colors a press can’t always replicate. RGB can reproduce a wider spectrum of the color gamut than a printing press, meaning it’s possible to display colors in RGB that you can’t make with CMYK. What you see on the screen can appear quite different on paper.

For best results while converting color try the following:

  • Select colors for fonts or other elements in your layout using CMYK definitions, not RGB
  • Try to calibrate your viewer to emulate CMYK so what you see on screen more closely approximates what a press will print.
  • Don’t use your office printer to gauge CMYK reproduction. That device is likely not calibrated correctly and will not produce a correct proof.

 

Spot Colors

While the four-color printing process can reproduce endless hues, reproduction inconsistencies can appear. A CMYK color formula printed on one press can appear different on another press. Consistent color reproduction every time requires a spot color. Presses produce corporate colors like Coca Cola red or Home Depot orange with spot colors. Ink suppliers pre-mix these colors to a standard known as the Pantone Matching System, or PMS colors. Specialty inks like metallics or neon inks are also considered spot colors. Your print service provider must image an additional printing plate for each spot color.

 

Bleeds

A printed file includes a trim size and bleed areas. The trim size refers to the final dimensions of the piece after it’s trimmed and bound. The bleed is a border area of printed content that extends beyond the trimmed edge and is discarded during finishing.

Bleeds are safety margins that allow guillotines and knife trimmers to cut a piece to the required size without leaving a white border along the edges. Bleeds should be 1/8” larger than the trim size on all sides. When you’re designing a printed piece, create the image and have your design program add a bleed space for you.

 

Safe Area

A related topic is the safe area, or type safety area. This is the area on a page where designers can safely place images, text, and other elements that won’t be cut off during binding. Leave a free space of at least 1/16” from the trim line on all sides to avoid cutting mishaps. You may have to adjust the safe area further in the gutter (gutters are extra space added to allow for binding). Your printer can recommend acceptable parameters.

 

Resolution

Crisp, beautiful images depend on proper resolution. Resolution refers to how much data images contain. Screen resolutions generally top out at 72dpi, or dots per inch. This looks good on most screens and makes files easier to store and display. A printing press needs a resolution of 300 dots per inch, so screen images are usually unsuitable for print.

The 300 dpi applies to resolving the final printed image. If you’re using an image that’s 2” x 2” with 300 dpi and resize to 6” x 6” you will dilute the resolution. The larger image must be 300 dpi to print clearly.

Resizing an image to a smaller dimension will not harm the print quality, but be cautious about enlargements. It’s possible to enlarge an image using various methods in Photoshop, but this yields limited results.

Guidelines provided by your print service provider are meant to ensure your printed pieces turn out as you planned. You’ll prevent extra charges, avoid delays, and experience the best results by designing with the printing process in mind. When in doubt, call the professionals at Bolger Printing for assistance.

Don’t Make These Mailing Mistakes

Does it seem that mailing should be simple? It’s old technology, right? To many, printing a mail piece and getting it to the recipients appears to be a low tech, low risk process that requires little expertise. That’s a dangerous assumption.

Underestimating the complexity of high volume mail projects can turn profitable campaigns into losing propositions. Infrequent mailers and marketers with limited direct mail experience can inadvertently make decisions about designs, processes, and data that will increase their production and postage costs, depress their results, or both.

Postal rates and regulations change over time. If you haven’t produced a mailing in a while it pays to consult with experts in the early planning stages of your project. They will know how current postage rates and mail preparation rules will affect your proposed project. Don’t wait until you’re ready to turn the project over to production to get mailing advice.

The list below includes some common mistakes people make with mailing projects. Avoid these errors and your project is more likely to produce the results you expect within the budget you’ve established.

 

Mistake #1 – Mailing Lists

If the list isn’t right, the attractiveness of the offer won’t matter. About 40 million people move every year. Some of them file change of address notices with the US Postal Service, others do not. If you haven’t compared your list to the National Change of Address file recently, not only will mailing pieces be undeliverable, you could incur extra postage fees long after the mail has been delivered-a penalty for using out-of-date lists. Tracking down new addresses for people who move and don’t register with the USPS requires mailers to process files against alternative data sources. Check with your mailing service provider to see if they offer this service.

Besides the basic problem of poor data quality, inaccurate targeting can also kill the effectiveness of a mailing. Be sure the names on the list match the offer demographics. The days of selecting prospects solely by zip codes ended long ago. List vendors can help you get much more specific.

Don’t forget to remove names that have zero chances of responding to your offer. Use suppression criteria to strike deceased and incarcerated persons. Drop existing customers from your new customer acquisition campaigns. Delete prospects living outside your market area.

 

Mistake #2 – Duplicates

Closely related to mailing list problems are duplicate records. Duplicates usually happen when marketers access data from multiple sources. Data stored in different files may list the same individuals with variations in name spelling or with multiple addresses. Make sure your mail services provider has the tools to remove duplicates from the data files.

Duplicate definitions can change depending on the application. Sometimes, sending mail to multiple family members at the same address is appropriate. In other cases, it’s better to drop those duplicates and mail one piece to the household.

Duplicate mailpieces are 100% waste. They reduce the ROI of marketing campaigns. Get rid of them before sending data files to the printer or ask your print/mail services vendor to eliminate duplicates for you.

 

Mistake #3 – Mailpiece Design

The US Postal Service establishes specific criteria to define mail classes, services, and rates. Mailers that exceed the limits can incur expensive surcharges or force their mail into higher postage rate categories.

The USPS aspect ratio regulation is one area easily overlooked. Divide the mailpiece length by the height. If the result is less than 1.3 or greater than 2.5 the Post Office will assess a non-machineable surcharge to every mailpiece. The length of the piece is parallel to the address, so rotating the address to print parallel to the short side of the piece will trigger the surcharge. So will square mailpieces, which have an aspect ratio of 1.

Other design issues that cause mailers to pay extra fees include exceeding weight limits, overly stiff material, and uneven envelope contents such as pens or keys.

Self-mailers have their own set of mailing requirements including how they are constructed and sealed. If using adhesive wafers (tabs) to seal a folded self-mailer, be sure the tabs won’t obscure important information printed on the mailpiece. Tab locations are controlled by USPS regulations.

Each mail class has standards. Check with your print/mail vendor’s mailing experts or with Mailpiece Design Analysts (MDA’s) at the Post Office before producing questionable mailpieces.

 

Mistake #4 – Mailing Only Once

Time and repetition are necessary to create a lasting impression. Mailers are better off planning a sequence of mailings than blowing the whole budget on one extravagant mailpiece.

Multi-channel campaigns also perform better than mail alone. Talk with mail service providers about integrating email, text (SMS), or re-targeted web ads to boost the results generated by a direct mail project.

Mailed communications are more effective than digital alternatives, but they also require a greater investment. It pays to enlist the help of mailing experts as you plan your campaign to avoid making costly mistakes. To access mailing assistance for your next project, email Bolger Printing’s marketing department at marketing@bolgerinc.com. We will connect you with the proper resources.

Reducing the Stress at Open Enrollment Time

The traditional benefits open enrollment period is busy and stressful. Employees must consume a great deal of information and make decisions that will affect their families for an entire year. The days leading up to enrollment deadlines are filled with employees seeking guidance and asking questions of the HR or benefits administration staff who struggle with the annual challenge of helping employees complete the process in time.

About half of employees find benefits enrollment to be “always stressful” according to a 2017 survey by Jellyvision. 41% of employees in the survey said the open enrollment process was “extremely confusing” and 20% later regretted their benefit decisions. Complicated benefits enrollment packets are part of the problem. Because of the document’s size and complexity employees don’t spend enough time examining them, often delaying until the last minute. Procrastination generates anxiety for employees and tests the limits of company resources set up to help them. The last week of open enrollment is typically hectic.

 

All-Purpose Benefit Books

Naturally, employees want access to all the latest relevant information before making their selections. Offerings change every year as insurers and companies update the plans. Employees must carefully review their options to assess the financial impacts of their benefit decisions. Historically, companies informed their employees about benefits by providing them with copies of a single printed enrollment guide. These sizeable publications cover every benefit option available in all employee categories.

This one-size-fits-all approach requires employees to sort out which benefits and versions apply to them. Limitations and exclusions abound. Companies may offer different options for exempt and non-exempt employees, state or region-dependent benefits, union and unrepresented groups, or varied options offered to divisions added via mergers and acquisitions. The resulting benefit books are large and confusing. Employees need help to understand which portions apply to them.

 

An Efficient Alternative

Fortunately, digital printing has allowed organizations to improve the way they present benefit information to employees. Unlike legacy printing solutions where economies of scale require printing large quantities of identical documents, digital printing workflows create versions focused on the eligibility of distinct employee groups.

Printed benefit books can include or exclude text blocks, pages, forms, or even entire sections depending on the characteristics of the intended audience. Creating and delivering multiple versions typically has no impact on document production costs. Companies can lower the stress levels for staff and employees without spending an extravagant amount on printing. Bindery has also become automated and data-driven, allowing print service providers to supply finished benefit enrollment packets relevant to each class of their client’s employees.

 

Stop Dreading Open Enrollment

Because digitally printed enrollment packets are specific to identified groups, employees must no longer wade through pages of irrelevant material to find the details they need to make their selections at open enrollment time. The documents are easier to understand, leading employees to make confident decisions, lowering their reliance on HR assistance.

As open enrollment time approaches, companies are discovering digitally printed enrollment materials may be the best way to serve employees and reduce the burden on HR and benefits administrators. For the first time in years, open enrollment may be easier and more efficient than in recent history. Call your Bolger Printing account representatives now to learn more about the advantages of digitally printed benefit enrollment packets for your organization.