Archive for November, 2010

Mail Print Blog Wins Highest Award from BMA

sb10063098as 001 250x374 Mail Print Blog Wins Highest Award from BMAAlthough our blog is still rather young (we just started it earlier this year) we have gained many followers, fans and friends who love databases and direct marketing as much as we do.  I can’t tell you how enjoyable it is to interact with fellow data-junkies on a regular basis!  Thank you to everyone who has commented and emailed us with thoughts, suggestions, ideas and insights for future posts.  Keep them coming!

We have found that sharing and receiving input on our unique perspective on direct, multi-channel, and database marketing is enough reward for us.  However we were flattered and humbled to hear that our blog has received the highest honor given by the local chapter of the Business Marketing Association.  We hope that our passion continues to ignite new ideas in the direct marketing industry.

In addition, Mail Print was honored for the top entries in the following categories:

  • Product Catalog (Redemption Plus Personalized Catalogs)  See case study.
  • Direct Mail Piece, Flat (ACEP Member Guides)  See case study.
  • Self-Promotion (Mail Print Holiday Campaign benefitting Operation Breakthrough)  See video.
  • Blog/Forum Development (blog.mailprint.com)

In addition, Mail Print received a Certificate of Merit in the “Channel Support” category for the Assurant Personalized Benefits Booklets.

Way to go everyone; these awards represent a lot of hard work and innovation by our customers, partners and throughout our entire organization!

The Be Thankful Challenge: Business Edition

Thankful business woman

The economic challenges of recent years have revealed many opportunities, skills, and relationships that we, the business community, should be thankful for.

I’m sure many of you are participating in one of the many “Be Thankful Challenges” that are widespread through social networks.  My observation of these powerful expressions of gratitude leads me to ponder the business side of the Thankful Challenge.

I have always believed that to truly know what’s good for business; you must know what’s bad. The economic turmoil of the past few years has given us plenty of opportunities to see the bad and realize the good.

Here’s my list of reasons why business should be thankful:

  1. Reclaiming gratitude for tried and true loyal customers and suppliers.
  2. Faithful employees who have never wavered, even when the previous roaring economy beckoned them.
  3. Refocusing on the meaningful aspects of life and not just materials things.  This applies not only at home, but in the workplace too.
  4. Finding strength and intelligence we never would have found if we didn’t have to.
  5. Forced improvement, on both organization wide and individual levels.
  6. Knowing that some things, like humor, love, and friendship, are unstoppable in any circumstance.

Although I believe that economic challenges have brought forward many good things, my heart goes out to those who have had the harrowing experience of job loss.  I hope that we have all learned from their misfortune.

To summarize I am thankful for the challenges and lessons we are learning.  I have faith that with perseverance the business community will emerge stronger and better equipped to compete in a global economy than ever before.

Happy Thanksgiving from Mail Print.

Six Keys for Marketing Automation Success

In most B2B marketing environments, one of marketing’s main responsibilities is to create conversations and support the sales process. Using marketing technology to automate the process to build customer relationships requires six key elements to be in place and working together.  Because these strategies are synergistic, one missing piece impacts the effectiveness of the other parts.

Six Keys for Marketing Automation Success

  1. Foster a single unified sales and marketing team charged with mutual short- and long-term goals and metrics to support achieving those objectives.
  2. Build a solid communications plan based upon the entire Customer Life Cycle and the prospects’ buying process, not your selling process.
  3. Allocate budget carefully across the customer life cycle.  What good does it do to generate leads, if your budget is exhausted and communication stops after the lead is generated?
  4. Implement an automated marketing solution that triggers and manages direct marketing communications.
  5. Use personalized multi-channel communications to deliver marketing messages via the right channel: direct mail, email, text message or website landing pages.
  6. Do not add administrative work for sales and marketing.  Make sure you utilize the marketing automation software to eliminate unnecessary work.
Army handshake.

B2B sales are most often won in hand-to-hand combat.

Make Connections, Earn More Business

People buy from people, not from CRM systems, automated marketing platforms, or dare I say, a marketing piece.   At the heart of any business transaction are real, live people. Marketing automation utilizes technology to communicate personally with prospects and customers to put them back where they belong: at the heart of business. CRM systems on their own are just fancy data collection devices. But enhanced with the right marketing automation solution, CRM platforms can help foster the connections required to earn the business of prospects and customers, while making sales and marketing more efficient.

Q&A: Cynthia Artin on QR Codes in Direct Marketing

QR Code

QR Codes are starting to show up everywhere from direct mail to billboards in Times Square. Photo Credits: QRiousCODE

As we discussed recently in our post Guide to QR Codes for Direct Marketers, 2-dimensional barcode technology is making inroads into the United States after becoming mainstream in Asia and Europe. For direct marketers, these mobile-friendly codes offer a new way to integrate offline and online communications. Direct mail, print and TV ads, business cards, billboards… anything that can carry an image can now serve as a link to a response page, purchase page, contact information, video, or any other online content.

To help us stay on top of this ever-evolving technology, we recently interviewed Cynthia Artin, a thought leader in the QR Code community who helps organizations integrate QR Codes into their communication strategies. With Cynthia’s permission, we’ve included her responses below…

Q: How did you first become aware of 2D Barcodes and their potential use in direct marketing?

I began studying mobile codes two years ago, when one of my clients who made a substantial investment in the area asked my opinion on how the economics might play out. After spending time researching through the many special interest groups around the world as well as reading up on all the companies offering readers, platforms, campaign managers, campaign creative and more – I was hooked!

Q: What’s the most exciting use of QR Codes you’re seeing right now?

Embedded enterprise applications – B 2 C – which are tightly integrated into existing information systems, such as marketing, CRM, Point-of-Sale, publishing, ticketing, couponing and redemption.

Q: The U.S. has lagged behind Europe and Asia in use of QR Codes; when do we catch up?

We catch up when mobile devices come pre-loaded with readers that scan every type of code and when the applications become more useful and less “flash-in-the-pan.”

Q: What are the big hurdles you see towards QR Code adoption in the U.S., and how can they be changed or overcome?

Open vs. closed systems work – and they always win out. As long as we have providers whose mobile codes work only when scanned by their readers, we will continue to frustrate consumers and deliver poor results to marketers.

Q: Is standardization of 2D Barcodes necessary? If so, which one will win out?

Standardization is an often subjective term! Open is necessary – decoding is key. The winners I am seeing in the market are delivering readers that read all of today’s codes – and tomorrow’s. Ultimately all codes could work if code providers agree to open decoding. At that point, the best codes will win – those which are most intuitive, those that are most easily and quickly read by the cameras, those that do not destroy graphic design integrity.

Q: What companies do you see as leaders in their use of QR Codes?

    Google Favorite Places

    Google's "Favorite Places" campaign sent out more than 100,000 store-front stickers to businesses across the country. When a user takes a photo of the personalized QR Code using a QR Code reader, they're directed to a description and reviews of the store or restaurant.

  • The leader in integration is Mobile Data Systems.
  • The leader in creativity is Renu Mobile.
  • The leader in cross-platform campaigns and luxury goods is Tappinn.
  • The leader in retail is Launch Media.
  • The leader in coolness is QM Codes.
  • The leader in support and documentation is Microsoft (though I am not happy about their attempting to perpetuate their closed system – they will not monopolize this industry!)
  • The leader in innovation is Packrads.
  • The leader in friendly, accessible solutions for small to medium businesses is Unity Mobile.
  • The leader in attracting awesome brands is JagTag (though their technology is dated).
  • The leader in getting global traction is ScanBuy.
  • The leader in having established the IP In the first place is NeoMedia.
  • The leader in tier one operator business models and services is Brand Extension Mobile Solutions working with Telefonica.
  • The leader in social networking is Facebook.
  • The leader in creating mass interest in mobile codes is Google, with Favorite Places and more.
  • Finally, the leader in working to ensure mobile codes work at scale and sustainably – is Neustar. I have lived through history with Neustar: interconnects, number portability, short codes. We have seen this movie before, and we know that in order for any new mobile capability to “move into the millions,” utility partners are essential.

Q: So let’s say a direct marketer is ready to get their feet wet; what are simple, low risk ways for them to start using QR Codes?

Add a mobile code to a direct mail piece with a simple, compelling call to action that immediately “gives back” a coupon, a virtual prize, something cool! Pick a great company, such as those in the above list, and have them walk you through the process – it is so easy, and the feedback is immediate!

CynthiaArtin e1289318779388 113x150 Q&A: Cynthia Artin on QR Codes in Direct MarketingAbout Cynthia Artin

Cynthia Artin, President of ArtinArts, has been helping companies grow through sound investment, strategy and market positioning for 30 years. She supports a range of companies, from start-ups to multi-billion enterprises, in positioning mobile innovations and solutions, including mobile codes. Her primary passion is identifying and developing mobile applications that help people live happier, healthier lives – at scale, by bringing together teams from for-profit companies with teams from non-profit organizations to create communications and service delivery channels on a global scale.

To learn more about Cynthia or connect with her, visit her LinkedIn Profile.

How to Stop Bad Data from Wrecking your Marketing Budget

Building A Quality Database

Close doesn’t count in database quality. The accuracy of your data can make or break your marketing budget.

This guest post provided by Erin Haselkorn, Vertical Marketing Specialist, Experian QAS.

Data quality is a top concern for many organizations, as it affects business operations from customer management to operational efficiency. With this in mind, Experian QAS took on a research project in August to find out current data perceptions, cleansing practices, and accuracy levels. The survey included 300 respondents in the U.S. in the retail, finance and insurance sector.

The survey revealed some interesting statistics:

  • While 96.2 percent of organizations view data accuracy as an essential issue, nearly one-third of them don’t enforce it.
  • More than half of the respondents claim that at least 6 percent or more of the important information in their database is inaccurate or completely missing.
  • 63 percent of respondents say that five to thirty percent of their marketing budget is wasted as a result of bad data.
  • The main reasons organizations maintain contact records are to enhance customer satisfaction, increase efficiency, reduce costs and increase marketing opportunities through customer profiling.

Manual Data Entry Can Reek Havoc On Your Data

These statistics show some realities. First, organizations understand the importance of contact data, but are not doing enough to make sure it is clean, accurate and up to date. While respondents stated that they currently manage quality contact data through staff training, software tools and staff measurement, organizations are relying too heavily on manual processes.

Unfortunately when it comes to manual entry, errors are bound to happen without some sort of check. Think about spell check, for example; how many errors would you make if you didn’t have that little tool to scan your document?

Should a Data Verification Tool Be In Your Plan for 2011?

Businesses should rely on verification tools on the front-end that would allow complete and accurate information to flow into their database. Customer Service and Sales were cited as the main departments that cause the highest proportion of data errors. Organizations could start by identifying the key departments prone to data quality errors, and start implementing a solution there.

Budget was cited as a main barrier to achieving accurate contact data, but based on the amount of marketing budget that is being wasted, a return on investment for accurate data should be easy to justify.

Even though businesses have been scaling back, the investment in data quality continues. This strong push in data quality initiatives shows that businesses view their central database as a valuable asset, helping to drive the business forward.

It is important for companies to review their own data quality practices and implement strategies that will improve common data quality problems within their specific organization. Ultimately, ensuring an accurate database will improve businesses processes and customer satisfaction.

Read the Full Research Report

Access to the full report is available to reveal the survey results, and discover best practices for cleaning and maintaining a database.  http://www.qas.com/register/1009/data-quality-whitepaper/contact-form.htm

About the Author

Experian QASErin Haselkorn is a PR and Vertical Marketing Specialist at Experian QAS, whose address validation software and services help prevent data errors, reduce returned mail and increase call center efficiency. Experian QAS’ software is used by more than 10,000 customers worldwide in retail, education, health care, insurance, finance, government and other sectors. For more information, visit http://www.qas.com.