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Direct mail printing: the digital versus offset dilemma

Commercial printing Direct mail printing: the digital versus offset dilemma


by Dimitri Van Gaever

So, you’ve decided to run a direct mailing campaign. A smart move, because the facts speak for themselves: direct mail has always been and still is a sure means to boost sales, provided you pick the right printing method. Will you be printing your direct mail offset or is digital direct mail printing a better way to go?

Digital versus offset

The digital versus offset dilemma is a classic many marketers find themselves faced with at some point, as choosing the right direct mail printing method requires taking into account various factors. Having trouble making the decision yourself? We’re here to help!

Read on to discover the pros and cons of offset and digital direct mail printing, as well as one savvy way to have both printing methods meet in the middle.

Digital or offset? It all starts with knowing your numbers

First things first: how many prints will you be needing? Many people believe offset is the cheaper option because it is the go-to method for newspaper printing, while in fact offset only becomes more cost-effective than digital when there’s more than 10,000 pieces to be printed. Offset, after all, comes with high setup costs.

Consider your deadline

Next to the number of prints, you also need to consider your deadline. As digital doesn’t evolve plate-making, a digital printing process has a significantly faster turn-around time than offset.

Quality prints

While offset printing used to be unmatched in terms of quality, digital has come a long way. Xeikon’s digital presses, for instance, are renowned for their 1200 dpi quality and extended color capabilities.

When direct mail printing gets personal

Much of your direct mail campaign’s success relies on you making sufficient use of the format’s endless possibilities for personalization. Evidently, each of your direct mails is going to be addressed differently. However, you’ll need to get even more personal  if you want your campaign to really stand out these days. Which you can, thanks to variable data printing. This cunning piece of technology enables printers to produce a virtually endless amount of prints containing unique, personalized images and various other types of data all in one run.

Variable data printing

As you may have guessed, variable data printing is a digital printing technology. The very nature of the offset printing process does not allow for single piece personalisation.

Combining digital and offset printing

Let’s say you need more than 10,000 prints and you want them personalized for each recipient. That’s a tough decision to make, right? Fortunately, chances are you can simply combine digital and offset printing. Most direct mail print service providers are able to preprint all repetitive text and images offset and then fill in all the personalized elements digitally.

Good to know

Renowned for their diverse substrate compatibility, high quality at high coverage and high-resolution prints, Xeikon presses handle high-value direct mail jobs with the greatest of ease. Printers who want to combine offset and digital can even equip the Xeikon X-800 with a pre-printed stock sensor to ensure variable data is printed exactly where it’s supposed to.

Made your decision? Don’t forget about choosing the right paper stock as well!