Back to School: 3 Examples of How Print Automation Can Benefit Higher Education Institutions

Stack of magazines A recent study found universities spend between $429 and $623 per enrolled student each year on marketing campaigns to help drive enrollment. While some of this spend is on digital marketing campaigns, a sizable percentage is spent on print marketing collateral like direct mail and brochures. 

Similar to industries like insurance or healthcare, the higher education industry relies heavily on print for both personalized marketing and transactional communications. Account statements and overviews, course catalogs, and critical communications are part of a higher education provider’s arsenal of print materials. This means higher education institutions must seek strategies and solutions to optimize their processes in order to experience a meaningful return on investment. 

Partnering with a strategic print partner that integrates print automation technology can help higher education organizations like colleges, universities, and online learning providers create high-quality print communications in a streamlined, cost-effective manner. Here, we’ll look at three examples of how print automation can benefit higher education companies.

1. Print automation can help you create more timely, strategic communication

The higher education space relies heavily on the timeliness of print. Enrollment paperwork, registration for campus tours, and food and housing plans require deadline-driven print communications that prioritize speed and high-level, strategic planning. What’s more, these kinds of communications often incorporate a multichannel approach with several touchpoints triggered by a student's actions. 

A print automation solution that leverages digital print technology can create customer communications the moment they’re needed. Automated print also leverages variable data printing (VDP) to create personalized, targeted brochures or direct mailers based on student data and insights like area of study, geographic location, enrollment status, and more. 

The ability to create print communications using variable images and copy geared toward a specific audience can help increase the likelihood your audience responds to your call-to-action, thus increasing the effectiveness and ROI of your print communications.   

Plus, print automation gives you the flexibility to scale projects based on demand or response rate. For example, if a direct mail postcard promoting the grand opening of a new residence hall performs better than anticipated, digital print allows you to quickly print the precise number of copies needed to meet this increase in demand. 

Using our print automation framework, we partnered with a higher education company to create an omnichannel marketing campaign to help drive enrollment and provide more detailed analytics on how and where the target audience engaged with the campaign’s messaging. Our strategic approach to print helped the company create higher-quality pieces compared to what they could have achieved in-house. What’s more, the campaign also produced an increase in application submissions and a 20% increase in website page views. 

2. Print automation can make critical communications more cost-effective

Despite the move toward paperless billing, about 75% of consumers still prefer print for documents like account summaries and bills. For higher education providers, this translates into customer demand for documents like financial aid reimbursement notices and tuition invoices.

A U.S. News and World Report survey of more than 1,200 colleges in the U.S. found the average annual headcount was about 6,200, which means the average college needs to facilitate large print quantities of critical communications two or three times per academic year. 

The use of digital print technology streamlines the printing of critical communications by eliminating the need for the costly fabrication and setup of custom plates required by offset presses. The continued development of digital print technology has made it fast and cost-effective to create custom catalogs, brochures, or postcards with the same print quality as traditional offset presses. 

Plus, digital presses can print large quantities of personalized print materials from multiple data streams to reduce production time and accelerate your speed-to-market.  

3. A print automation solution can help increase your sustainability

Sustainability is a top-tier concern for every industry — and, given the volume of communications necessary to do business, the higher education space is no different. Working with a strategic partner on advanced, automated print can support your sustainability efforts in a couple of key ways that also help you optimize your print communications spend. 

Because print automation allows you to print the exact quantities you need only when you need them, higher education providers can virtually eliminate instances of extra or unused copies. The capability to print a precise quantity helps you conserve resources like ink and paper, and some automated print solutions can print on recycled substrates to help reduce your environmental impact. 

What’s more, the digital presses that are usually part of a custom print automation program use small printheads — as opposed to the large plates found in offset printing — to transfer ink to the sheet. This innovative technology requires less ink to create legible text and high-quality images. 

Plus, digital inks require less water to achieve a high degree of color stability — in fact, our Landa  S10P Nanographic® Printing Press uses NanoInk® technology that allows the colorants to be mixed with water on-site, which avoids the unnecessary shipping of water. 

The capacity of print automation to help you better conserve and allocate resources like paper, ink, and water make it easier to print cost-effective communications that demonstrate a more meaningful ROI. 

With the right strategic print partner, the ability to optimize your print communications has never been easier. At Quantum, we partner with higher education providers to help them get the most out of their print marketing and communication strategies. Learn more about how our direct mail, commercial print, and print marketing automation services can help you unlock new possibilities in print.