Direct Mail ROI — Next Gen Inkjet Delivers — Part 2

By Lois Ritarossi / Published:

Inkjet is delivering substantial return on investment for direct mail programs. This is the second article of a two-part series on how next generation inkjet is delivering results for direct marketing firms. In my first article, I spoke with Bob Anderson, CEO of Prisma. They selected the Screen Truepress Jet520HD with the SC ink to expand their production capabilities. Their critical decision point was the ability to print without the need for pre or post-coating or for treated paper.

I recently spoke with Mark DeBoer, Senior Vice President of Darwill about their inkjet journey. They are a national integrated marketing company with two production facilities. They provide omnichannel services for direct marketing programs including data, creative, production, mail, and reporting solutions for their customers across many B2C industries.

Why next gen inkjet

Darwill’s mission is to provide data-driven results for clients’ acquisition and retention programs. As early adopters of inkjet, in 2018 they installed the first Océ ProStream 1000 in the U.S. In 2020, they upgraded the 1000 to the ProStream 1800.

The ProStream 1000 helped Darwill solve two major obstacles: color vibrancy on coated or uncoated media, and full color variability. As the first install, they worked closely with Canon to evaluate various stocks and speeds across their diverse client applications.

Darwill found the ProStream 1000 expanded their capabilities and provided reliable image quality. They experienced challenges with performance consistency when running broader media options. Canon listened to their customers and focused on a product upgrade that would perform in high-volume direct mail and commercial print shops.

Darwill decided to upgrade to the ProStream 1800 based on the ability to handle expanded media and the enhanced image quality. DeBoer shared “the 1800 has allowed us to move past any objections to image quality on inkjet. Customers no longer have quality concerns with inkjet.” Jobs that previously ran on digital toner presses now run on the ProStream 1800. Darwill can deliver faster time to market for larger programs with competitive pricing. Clients are now learning from Darwill how to maximize the real estate on the roll to reduce overall cost.

Faster Offline Finishing

Upgrading to the ProStream 1800 changed Darwill’s approach to optimizing finishing. Previously, they focused on using inline finishing to reduce the total number of touch points. They have shifted their strategy to focus on total throughput. The press runs most efficiently with a roll-to-roll configuration without stopping for cutting and sheeting, even for heavier stocks. DeBoer said even the internal skeptics of offline finishing have seen how the speed of the press delivers greater throughput and reduced the total production time to get finished pieces out the door.

Customers want ROI

Darwill customers are using more data to create content with a higher degree of variability in their direct mail programs. Marketers see direct mail as a critical channel in generating measurable results for their acquisition and retention programs. Several Darwill clients have reported that direct mail is their best performing channel for response and conversions. As a result, many of their clients are planning to double their overall mail volumes in 2022. Despite postage rate increases, Darwill’s clients have reported that mail fueled by data is delivering impressive ROI across many vertical markets.

Darwill has also changed their sales approach to focus on ROI. Clients are interested and motivated to implement creative strategies to produce direct mail programs when everyone is aligned on the importance of ROI.

They now have several salespeople who are not print experts. Darwill hired new team members with marketing skills who can speak to customers about measuring the effectiveness of direct mail. When needed, the sales team rely on the internal production and print SMEs for print specific questions after they have demonstrated options for generating measurable results with clients.

An Inkjet Future

Darwill’s most recent investment was a Canon IX press which is a good compliment to the ProStream 1800 for shorter run jobs. The overall impact of next generation inkjet is removing any fear that inkjet quality will not measure up to internal or client expectations. The sales team has completely overcome any fear around quality and is focused on selling highly customized programs that deliver results. Inkjet technologies are driving investments for direct mail firms.

About the Author

Lois Ritarossi

Lois Ritarossi, CMC®, is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. You can reach Lois at

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