By Sheri Jammallo, Corporate Enterprise Marketing Manager, Canon Solutions America

Our tech-enabled society is changing at the speed of a megabyte. In 2000, just 43 percent of American adults used the Internet. Now, 87 percent of us surf the Net, according to the Pew Research Center. Globally, 2.9 billion people are connected to the Internet. That’s over 30 percent of the world’s population. In just one Internet minute, we send 200 million emails, perform 4.1 million Google searches, share 3.3 million Facebook items, send 433,000 Tweets, download 195,000 apps, and upload 100 hours of YouTube content.

Increasingly, we’re doing all that on mobile devices. More than half of online shopping now stems from smartphones and tablets, and mobile searches surpassed desktop searches last year. For marketers, the meaning is clear: Deliver your message across all channels or admit defeat.

We’re talking about Omni-channel Marketing. But what exactly does that mean? According to The Economist, Omni-channel means “…letting consumers shop with smartphones, tablets, and laptops and even in stores as if waited upon by a single salesman with an unfailing memory and uncanny intuition about their preferences.”

So Omni-channel is completely virtual, right? Wrong. Actually, print has emerged as an important part of the multi-channel mix, comprising nearly one-third of overall communications spend in 2015. Compare that to mobile, which accounted for just 12 percent.

In part, that’s because it takes seven to 10 exposures for a target to “see” a message. That means you have to get your message in front of the customer at every turn in the hopes of racking up a sufficient number of exposures.

When it comes to printing that message, digital print has clearly become the mode of choice. Production digital color is growing dramatically, with volumes increasing from 265 billion impressions in 2013 to 500 billion in 2018. We’re experiencing a similar move from toner to inkjet. Production color inkjet is expected to surpass 59 percent by 2018, up from 36.6 percent just three years ago, according to InfoTrends.

Digital color print presents opportunities to engage in new and exciting ways. Incorporating data-driven content and technologies like mobile barcodes into documents – often in full-color – is driving interaction in other channels.

If that isn’t incentive enough, there’s this: Last year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) encouraged print-driven Omni-channel Marketing by offering a two percent discount on mail pieces that included mobile technology leading to a mobile-optimized shopping website or incorporated emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) or near field communications (NFC).

This year, it will expand its Emerging & Advanced Technology promotion with discounts to include AR and NFC as well as video in print, Beacon technology, or other developing technologies.
As you set out to map out your path in this brave new world, keep in mind it’s all about the customer experience. The objective of any effective Omni-channel Marketing strategy is to deliver a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer experience across all channels. Today’s consumers have more choices than ever before. It’s incumbent upon you to deliver the right messaging at the right time through ALL the right channels.

Sheri Jammallo is the Corporate Enterprise Segment Marketing Manager for Canon Solutions America, with a keen focus on marketing strategies across North America in the Transactional, Direct Mail, Data-Center, and In-Plant print production space. With many years of experience in the production print space, she uses her wealth of industry knowledge to lead field relevant go-to-market production print strategies and programs for Canon Solutions America that bring value-add to the production print customer and print industry.