Replace Empty Space with Results-Generating Content

If your organization produces transactional documents like invoices, statements, or notices, you are probably spending money on customer communications that have some blank spots. It costs almost the same to produce and mail a document whose pages are filled with text and images as it does to mail one with blank spaces. Why not fill that emptiness at practically no extra cost and make those documents work harder for you?

Lots of forms and documents are missing an opportunity to promote, inform, or otherwise communicate with customers because companies deliver them on pages featuring excess blank space. Wasted space happens when organizations design documents to accommodate the highest possible number of lines, signatures, or other details, but the space is empty on documents where the data is less voluminous. In other cases, detail lines run over to an extra page which ends up being 90% blank. You have probably received such documents in your own mail and wondered why a company would pay to mail you pages with little useful content.

Transactional documents are highly variable, which makes document design more difficult. The document designer cannot know in advance how many detail lines might appear on an invoice, for instance. It might be one line, or it could be hundreds of lines. Furthermore, designers won’t know what data will be presented in the lines. They must lay out the documents to handle any situation. The document composition engine handles the variability, but this software doesn’t always do a good job of exploiting the available print area. That’s when those large blank areas start to appear.

We can separate white space on documents into three categories:

Fixed White Space

This is space present in the same spot on every document, always the same size and shape. Most organizations have no trouble filling fixed white space, but the text and graphics that appear aren’t always relevant to the document recipient.

Fixed white space often mimics the stunted functionality of pre-printed document stuffers. Every document in the print run features the same message, with no regard for the status or account history of the addressee. That’s a shame because, unlike document stuffers, the messages that occupy fixed white space on digitally printed transactional documents can vary according to any relevant variables. Document composition software can even personalize the messages without affecting the cost to produce the communications, worrying about document integrity, or affecting the productivity of the document production and distribution workflow.

Dynamically controlling fixed white space is a better idea. Document composition software products like Eclipse’s DocOrigin use data and business rules to place ads, informational messages, or other communications into the defined white space. DocOrigin will choose the content to appear in the fixed location according to the data associated with each account in the document run.

Lost White Space

Lost white space appears at the end of a document when the number of detail lines do not fill the space reserved for them. The size of lost white space varies from document to document in the same print run. In one case, perhaps only a few available lines remain on the page, leaving space for only a small piece of added marketing or informational content. In other cases, lost white space could encompass almost the entire page.

Because of the variability in available space, lost white space must be managed dynamically. Besides using business rules to determine the relevance of messages to insert into the document, the composition engine must analyze the space and choose items that will fit from the library of pre-designed content.

Some document composition software can handle such sophisticated situations. Others cannot.

Creative White Space

The third variety of white space doesn’t exist until the document composition engine creates it. Based on detail line data and business rules, DocOrigin can insert contextual ads, regulatory messages, or other notes in the detail section of the document. The software makes an “IF, THEN” decision as it composes the documents, watching for data values and keywords included in the detail lines. Then the software makes room directly below the triggering detail line for additional content. Most document composition software does not create white space in this manner.

Uses for creative white space might include:

  • Advertisements for accessories, supplies, or maintenance contracts associated with a product appearing on an invoice
  • Warnings about hazardous materials listed on the document
  • Guidance to online user manuals for purchased products
  • Notices about rewards associated with activity noted on a statement
  • Third party ads connected to products or services included on a bill or statement

By managing white space more intelligently, your organization can improve the customer experience. Your transactional documents can cease being merely a necessary expense and promote, inform, or educate document recipients. Messaging can be based on customer profiles, buying history, or details found in the document itself. Taking advantage of document white space is almost free. Other than a little more toner or ink, the document production process and mailing costs stay the same as they would to produce documents with empty spaces.

Watch THIS VIDEO from the Eclipse video library to see examples of how dynamic white space management increases the value of transactional documents.