Historically, marketers had to rely on traditional printing methods, such as offset printing, to put their direct marketing material into print. While offset printing provides a high quality image, the process requires plates to be made for each piece to be printed. Digital printing processes and large format/volume laser and inkjet printers have given marketers a new tool in getting their materials printed fast.
One of the biggest benefits of digital printing is the ability to include personalization in the printing process. The digital nature allows for each piece to be personalized based on customer database information. Personalized URLs, QR codes, and individualized product information can be included on the fly, allowing for direct mail to be used as a combined media marketing approach.
Laser and inkjet printing processes generally do not provide as crisp an image as offset printing processes, but the cost per piece for low volume print jobs is usually less than offset printing. Digital prints are essentially made of small dots, and require high resolutions to result in a smooth image. Lithography and other methods that use plates are “analog”, resulting in clear continuous text and image edges.
One option for high volume print jobs that require customization is to use offset printing for the static images and text on the piece and then add personalized content through a second digital print process that requires only one color. This will ensure that the base graphics of your mail piece are crisp and clean, yet you gain the personalization that your recipients will appreciate.
I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!