Archive for August, 2010

Powerful Data-Driven Charts for Mail and Email Marketing

Dynamic chart and graphData rarely gets to be the star of the visual show. It takes people who are both creative and data-savvy to conceptualize how data points can be translated into visual appeal.  Today’s marketers are increasingly in-tune to both left-brain and right-brain thinking, which makes this the perfect time to consider what data you have and how you are using it.

I recently wrote a report on using Data-Driven Charts and Graphs that is filled with examples, and also contains guidance on  addressing common implementation challenges. This report is my attempt to help agencies and marketers plan how data-driven graphs and charts can be employed to make their direct marketing more relevant, more engaging and ultimately more effective.

You can download the report at www.mailprint.com/charts.  I’d be delighted to have your feedback.  Please feel free to email me directly at rhondab(at)mailprint(dot)com.

Download Data Driven Chart Report

Personalize Your Marketing The Google Way

It’s safe to say that Google, the worldwide leader in search, knows a thing or two about beating out competition and increasing loyalty.

Over the last 12 years, Google has built their empire on a seemingly simple function: providing relevant information to their “customers” (searchers). Even with a 70% market share, Google continues to develop their search tool to increase the relevance and personalization of their searches to individual users.

Good news! You don’t need an 11-digit annual revenue to communicate with your prospects and customers with Google-like relevancy and personalization. Let’s look at three techniques Google is using to increase the satisfaction and loyalty of their users, and how direct marketers can do the same.

Three Personalization Tactics You Should Steal From Google

1) Target Geographically

Google local search result

Above: Google local search results.

Just like you know the physical addresses of your contacts, Google knows where you’re searching from (based on your IP address or account info), and loves serving you localized versions of search results. Sometimes, they even include a handy map to show you how to get to your favorite taco stand or variable data printing company.

Whether you’re locally-based, or a franchise with thousands of locations, geographically personalizing your communications can be helpful for recipients, and increase your response and sales.

Ways to implement geographic targeting and personalization in your marketing:

  • Use imagery that matches the region or environment of your recipients. It never snows in Phoenix, so don’t send your customers there a holiday card featuring a snowman (they prefer the Christmas Cactus).
  • Values and even language choices can vary by region, and even city-dwellers as compared to suburbanites. Depending on your product (is it “pop,” “soda” or “coke?”) or service, you may need to version your benefits messaging to match what’s important and familiar to your audiences.
  • Need to increase foot traffic for a new location? Try mailing local homes or businesses an offer, and include a variable map with driving directions from their location. We’ve seen this done with great results.

2) Track Behaviors To Increase Relevancy

Google customized search

Above: Google search personalization screen.

Near the end of last year, Google rolled out “personalized search results,” which customizes the results searchers are served based on the search results they’ve clicked in the past and the sites they’ve visited. “Big Brother” fears aside, this optional feature does improve the relevancy of search results, ultimately improving the users’ experience and satisfaction.

Like Google, most organizations store large amounts of data on their customers, including purchase and usage history. By integrating with their customer database or CRM system, marketers can respond to customer behaviors with highly-relevant and perfectly-timed communications designed to up-sell, cross-sell, retain, or win-back customers.

Behavior tracking can also be used in lead generation and nurturing by responding to a lead’s actions, such as a website visit or resource download, with automated, multi-channel campaigns.

Examples of Behavior-Based Marketing Personalization:

  • If you’ve shopped Amazon.com, you’ve most like received follow-up emails with similar or complementary products to those you’ve purchased or browsed. Now, with variable data printing, there’s no reason you can’t do this with direct mail and catalog marketing as well.
  • If you deliver statements or notifications to your customers, it’s time to turn them into “transpromo” communications that highlight complimentary services.
  • Set up automatic alerts to inform your sales or customer service team when a customer has missed a regular order, or automatically trigger a “We’ve missed you” email or mail piece, with an incentive to bring them back.

3) Serve Information In The Medium They Prefer

Google search medium options

Above: Optional Google search channels.

For a while now, Google and their competitors have been improving their tools for searches for images, videos, blogs and other channels, knowing that different users prefer different mediums. With Google’s recent redesign, they’ve made these options even more prominent, helping users access the information they’re searching for, in whatever format they need.

Because there are a finite number of leads and customers out there, it’s important to make sure you’re getting through to as large a percentage of your target audience as possible. You can increase your chances of reaching contacts by serving your message in various mediums (email, mail, online, phone call, text, video, social, etc.). In a study by Epsilon, companies using multi-channel marketing achieved an average 11% sales lift.

Ideas for Implementing Multi-Channel Marketing:

  • Create multi-channel drip campaigns that automatically nurture a lead or customer over time, using various mediums. The technology is already out there to do this.
  • Use triggers to automatically detect multiple unopened email messages, and auto-deploy a mail piece to that lead or customer.
  • Back up your traditional marketing pushes with complementary efforts on your social networks.
  • 67% of online actions are driven by offline messages (iProspect Study); send a mail piece driving recipients to a customized landing page.

Ready to Beat Google to Their Next Big Thing?

There are rumors that Google is beginning to factor in which entries searchers click on to determine which entries they should serve more prominently, placing the items that proved most relevant to other users higher in search results.

This tactic has been in used by direct marketers for decades, since long before Google was even a twinkle in the eyes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin: it’s called testing.

Whether you’re ready to try geographic or behavior-based personalization, or are considering trying a new marketing channel, it’s important (and easier than you would think) to test audience, creative and offer variations. You’ll increase the ROI of your marketing, and provide your leads and prospects the relevance they’ve been searching for.

Video: Inside View of Mail Print’s Marketing Portal

We get a lot of questions about our Marketing Communications Portal, and have found that visuals are worth much more than a thousand words when explaining its benefits and features. Have two and a half minutes? Check out the video below that gives an inside view of how marketers, salespeople, business owners and administrators use the portal to access, manage and deploy company-branded materials.

If you’re joining us from a mobile device, you can watch the YouTube version here. Oh, and if you’d prefer the thousand words instead of the visual, you can get the video transcript here.

Building a Roadmap for the Buying Decision Process

Buying decision roadmap

Map out the buying process and help prospects and customers navigate their way to a buying decision.

Today’s decision makers have changed. They scrutinize buying options more carefully. Their expectations are higher across the board. They want to understand the opportunity costs of making a purchasing decision; or rather, the value of the alternatives that he or she is giving up to choose your company.

Undoubtedly, your prospects control the buying process.

To help decision makers navigate successfully through the buying decision process, imagine your team of sales and marketing professionals as city planners or heads of transportation. It is their task to build the onramps, highways and traffic lights that will keep your prospects moving to the destination: a buying decision.

As heads of transportation, your sales and marketing will need to define the key communication points needed along this educational and relationship-building process.

Multi-channel marketing campaigns are perfect for complimenting sales interactions with automatic mail and email communications. But be careful. Not every interaction with the buyer or customer is about closing a new deal; it’s about delivering relevant information at the right time to the right individual. If you add irrelevant messages or touches, congestion ensues and the buyer goes elsewhere to obtain the information they need.

Decision makers want more information. We’re not just talking about an extended list of features and benefits. We’re talking about empowerment through education, fact finding, and knowledge acquisition.

Companies are currently grappling for pole position as the trusted advisor, a role now paramount to success for not only new business, but for up-selling and cross-selling existing clients as well. The question for you is whether your company will be the source of this information, or will your prospects go elsewhere to satisfy their curiosity?

Enhancing Transactional Email Marketing to Improve Customer Engagement

transpromo email marketing 238x300 Enhancing Transactional Email Marketing to Improve Customer Engagement

Did you know that 25% of the people who never open your emails will be among the top 10% of your customers? – Email Experience Council

In a recent BtoB Magazine Online post Karen Bannan says, “transactional messages can help you reach out to new or current customers to help build brand awareness and even create new sales.” Her article “Tips for Transactional Email” contains a multitude of reminders of how impactful email can be for building customer relationships.  It also highlights all the wonderful benefits of relevancy and timeliness when communicating with customers.

  • But what if the customer’s email address isn’t accurate?
  • What if, the client gives you an email address they never check?  (We all know that many people have a “junk” email account that they don’t check all that often.)
  • What if, your email gets caught in a spam filter and the customer never receives it?

With new advances in email and printing automation technology, there are ways to make sure your transactional marketing (transpromo) stays at the top of its game by using a multi-channel approach.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking:

  • Based on the value of the customer, if the email hard bounces you send a direct mail piece to present the information and great offers they missed in the email.  You also provide an easy way to collect the correct email address, usually via a landing page or Personalized URL. This landing page is also a great place to ask their preference for all types of transpromo communications.
  • You can define engagement rules to know when you should communicate via a different channel.  A couple of examples:
    • If the email isn’t opened within seven days, a mail piece is triggered.
    • If three transactional emails are not opened, a text message or direct mail piece is triggered.

It is important to remember that the goal of the utilizing alternate channels is not just to sell more, but to get the customer to engage with the channel that’s right for them.  Email Experience Council research states that 85% of the people on your email list will stop reading your emails without unsubscribing after the third message your company sends to them. How are you going to re-engage them?

Derek Harding, CEO of Innovyx, Omnicom Group’s interactive arm states, “If someone has just made a purchase, you absolutely must try and keep that dialogue going.”  The way I see it, that means utilizing every channel at your disposal to serve and engage your customer.

A special thanks for Karen Bannan for her thoughtful article on transactional email. You can read it here.