The Ziflow Blog

Posted by Mike Puterbaugh

Online Proofing Helps Dynamicard Accelerate Direct Mail Innovation

Are marketers still relying on direct mail as a channel? Looking at recent industry research, there’s no shortage of data points which support dedicating a portion of your marketing budget to direct mail efforts. According to the DMA, direct mail response rates are over 5%, compared to 0.6% response rates for both email and display ads, respectively. That’s pretty compelling.

A great example of a company providing innovation in this area is Dynamicard. Dynamicard is a one-stop shop for innovative direct mail assets - most notably via their very popular die-cut plastic postcard offering. They also offer technology-based services such as tracking and analytics, as well as QR codes, further differentiating their offerings.

Technology also plays a big part in Dynamicard’s internal processes as well, especially in the area of creative review and approval. One example of this is Dynamicard’s standardization on Ziflow for online proofing to deliver creative projects faster and with and more efficiency, which has a direct impact on their growth.

 

I spent some time talking with Dynamicard’s Production Manager, Travis Wester, about how they’ve adopted online proofing to serve as a foundational aspect of their modern marketing operations. (Note: the interview has been edited for length).

Can you tell us a little about your workflow?

Sure. Our clients run a wide range of campaigns, all of which start with an insertion order (IO). The IO provides us with a lot of background on the client, including the contracted work, what their offers are, as well as the company’s website which offers a good guideline for the look-and-feel of the client. This gives us the basis for our design team to begin working on a mock-up. This is where online proofing and our review and approval process starts to add value.

That first design is uploaded into Ziflow and shared with the account team and the client, labeled as an “Art Preview.” As part of our workflow, we set a 24-hour deadline for the initial round of feedback, all of which is captured within Ziflow. We love having this capability in the product because this frees us up to continue pushing client work through the pipeline, rather than spending our time on the phone chasing feedback.

How are the communications with your clients handled?

All communications are done through the system. We use custom notifications every day, on every proof, with precise instructions and guidelines. This helps us cut down any misunderstandings as to what we’re looking for regarding both feedback and approvals.

We’re pretty clear about only accepting feedback and approvals via Ziflow. In fact, one of our custom notifications details the charges that might be incurred if there are changes after an approval has been given. If we’re in the production process and there’s a change request after approval, that has a real cost associated with it, so our notifications point that out explicitly. It’s also great to have every comment, markup and decision documented.

Have you been able to reduce the number of versions required because of your review and approval process?

Absolutely. I’d say this is both because we have great designers, as well as a robust process within Ziflow which eliminates missed feedback and confusion on approvals. All markups are on the design, everyone can see the feedback and comments provided, and everyone’s role - reviewer and approvers - is clear.

The ability to lock a proof when the decision maker has approved the design keeps us from having proofs in our dashboard hanging out there as “pending.” It helps us keep the process moving. This is important, as we’re often handling 20 projects a day, all requiring designs, feedback and approvals. We couldn’t run this workload via email, and it’s not a challenge which project management could solve. This process requires a particular approach, which online proofing provides.

Another benefit is when we re-run campaigns or use a previous campaign as the basis for new one. It’s great to be able to go back three, six or even nine months and see how various designs evolved, what the feedback was and who requested changes, as well as how those designs look side by side in comparison. That allows us to deliver exceptional designs to our repeat customers because we have that information to leverage. This is another reason we insist on all feedback and decisions be done within the application.

It sounds like your customers see the benefits of Dynamicard using an online proofing system. How about your co-workers, what has the internal response been?

Over the last 15 years, I’ve implemented a lot of different software packages, workflows and processes for various methods of proofing- digital, print, product packaging, etc. Specifically, for this rollout, this is the first time I’ve implemented a new process, workflow and software all at once - with literally zero complaints from the team. Ziflow is simple and easy to use. The staff loves it, and it’s worked really well for us.

Dynamicard is an excellent example of a company that has leveraged online proofing to create the efficiencies needed to operate at scale. It’s no easy feat to manage 20+ creative projects on a daily basis, which Dynamicard does with ease. Their product offering could be considered “traditional,” but their approach to delivering exceptional experiences to their clients is definitely modern.

If you’re looking for some more information to help you decide if your team can benefit from online proofing, please check out these resources: