Nov. 12 2008 10:23 AM

The face of customer communications is changing rapidly, driven by increasing competitive pressures in the marketplace as well as pressures to reduce the costs of document production. Documents, including monthly statements, invoices or letters, are being transformed into dual-purpose customer communications as organizations add promotional and marketing messaging to the traditional transactional mix. The advent of transpromo documents enabled organizations to use the real estate of the document to catch the attention of customers and urge them to read promotional messages and respond to offers. But recent technological advances are enabling to organizations to add messaging to the document's envelope, providing opportunities to communicate with customers from the moment the mailpieces land in their hands.


To drive the three critical characteristics of successful transpromo documents (promotional messaging that is relevant, timely and personal), organizations need to ensure that the data analytics functions they implement to drive transpromo message inclusion are providing an accurate single view of the customer.


Successful data analytics solutions need to be able to consolidate the appropriate information about customers into a single view that provides an accurate profile of the customer that is relevant to the promotional offer. That relevancy may be based on locational data, demographic data or behavioral data. The degree of personalization and the timeliness of the promotional message are the key ingredients to successful transpromo communication. Impersonal, generic offers or offers based on old information fail to capture a customer's attention.


With transpromo message drivers in place, presentment becomes the next critical component in a successful campaign. Color printing technology has also become a successful ingredient of transpromo document production.



Beyond considerations of data analytics and color presentment, lies packaging. The envelope is more than just a container, and more than just a place to print an address. Several new technologies enable envelopes to be a critical component of the transpromo package, displaying additional personalized messaging and color graphics that entice customers to look inside.


Two innovative industry hardware suppliers, MegaSpirea and Kern AG, have developed inline enveloping finishing technology that accepts document streams containing envelopes printed inline with the documents and provides inline dynamic envelope creation, folding the envelope around the document contents. This flexibility allows innovative design and finishing approaches to the creation of both transpromo and direct mail documents. In terms of document design and composition, the envelope is another sheet in the total document with plenty of white-space opportunities for messaging. Of course, organizations must adhere to postal standards, but envelopes provide a valuable amount of untapped white-space real estate. 


The MegaSpirea Mailliner 100 is a high-speed (up to 21,000 envelopes per hour) finishing device that accepts continuous printed input and performs dynamic die cuts, collation, folding and gluing for dynamic envelope creation. The Mailliner accepts up to six sheets and folds the dynamically created envelope around the contents using barcode control for document integrity and reprinting. The Mailliner is best suited for medium to high-volume production runs. It offers opportunities for printing personalized messaging and monochrome or color graphics on the envelope to drive increased customer interest and campaign response rates. In North America, the MegaSpirea Mailliner 100 is marketed direct by MegaSpirea.


The Kern 515 EasyMailer is aimed at short- to medium-volume transpromo and direct mail production runs, producing up to 1,250 envelopes per hour depending on the application. The EasyMailer accepts cut-sheet input in two formats (8.5" x 11" and 11" x 17") with the envelope printed inline along with 1-3 content sheets. The EasyMailer uses barcodes for document integrity control and provides short- and medium-volume mailers an opportunity to include personalized messaging and color graphics dynamically on transpromo document envelopes in monochrome or color depending on their printers. In North America, the Kern 515 EasyMailer is marketed by Xerox.



BÃ-WE BELL + HOWELL, Pitney Bowes and Kern provide standard offerings with the capability to configure monochrome inkjet printers inline on their high-speed automated inserter systems. These are traditionally used for closed-window envelope addressing, postal barcode or keyline applications, and occasionally promotional or personalized messaging. The applications have traditionally utilized small-width print heads to produce minimal text or graphics. Most of these applications have utilized file-based processing control files to pass the content to be printed on each envelope to the print controller.


BÃ-WE BELL + HOWELL's Printegrity inkjet solution provides envelope printing at up to 36,000 envelopes per hour and can be utilized inline with many different inserting platforms or as a standalone system. Inline with an inserter, BÃ-WE BELL + HOWELL offers a several methods of driving Printegrity. First, it can use the read-and-print capability driven by its JetVision system or it can communicate directly between Printegrity and the inserter system to drive the printer. When used in a transpromo application, Printegrity can print dynamic or fixed graphics, text or logos based on the information provided by JetVision or the inserter system. Vertical DPI is available at 300 or 600 and horizontal DPI ranges from 75 to 600.


Pitney Bowes offers the EFS Envelope Finishing System which provides similar functionality to BÃ-WE BELL + HOWELL's Printegrity. Pitney Bowes' EFS is an integrated printing and scanning solution. Integrated scanning capabilities support numerous integrity checks on the mailpiece such as verification of correct sequence and/or return address. The EFS integrates with many Pitney Bowes inserting platforms including the APS, FPS and the Series 8 and 9 inserting systems. The EFS printing capacity is utilized to print variable return addresses, mailing addresses, custom images, various postal barcodes and manifest keyline and variable messaging.


Kern integrates inline inkjet printing with its mailFactory Output Control module and drives variable data from the inserter control file to the printer. Kern solutions utilize HP45 cartridge technology inkjet systems such as MCS, Buskro or DDS. Kern integrates the inkjet solution with several of its inserting platforms including the Kern K3500, K2500, K2600 and K3000. The Kern integrated inkjet solutions achieve 300 DPI at the full throughput speeds of its inserter platforms.



In response to transpromo market demands, Hewlett Packard's (HP) Specialty Print Systems (SPS) exhibited a new four-color (CMYK) envelope printing system in its transpromo/transactional printing demonstration at drupa 2008. The demonstration, a collaborative technology demonstration by HP, Pitney Bowes and MCS previewed high-speed color inkjet printing inline on a Pitney Bowes APS high-speed inserting platform at 18,000 envelopes per hour. Print quality was 450 x 600 DPI with dynamic content driven by the same MRDF control file that drives the APS. The APS was equipped with the MCS print for address printing and HP Scalable Print Technology four-color print heads for variable color transpromo messaging.


The results provided a glimpse into the near-future of dynamic color inkjet printing on envelopes during the finishing process. The transpromo application in the HP, Pitney Bowes and MCS demonstration will provide another way to place transpromo dynamic messaging and graphics in color on envelopes.



Gone are the days when an envelope was simply a container used to deliver a document. Transpromo production technologies are opening up new ways for enterprises to transform traditional transactional documents in standard addressed envelopes into personalized customer communication with eye-catching color graphics and personalized messaging on the envelope, to urge recipients to open, read and respond to the contents. Dynamic inline envelope creation enabling inline envelope printing or inline monochrome and color inkjet envelope printing have forever changed the designation of an envelope as just a container.


Steve Watters is a principal analyst working with Madison Advisors. For more information, email stevewatters@madison-advisors or visit