Posts tagged automated marketing
The evolution of variable data printing (VDP) has significantly changed the landscape for the designers of direct marketing pieces. No longer are they forced to craft pieces that will appeal to a broad range of potential clients and hope for the best. Instead, they can utilize data captured from emails, web pages, surveys, phone calls and in-person interviews to create individualized direct marketing pieces to more accurately target the needs of their clients.
The Market – At its core, variable data printing is still a direct marketing strategy. As such, it relies on having data on your clients and prospects. This data can be self-generated by your company or purchased from third-party vendors. Lists are available in a range of options and can be tailored to your exact needs. In short, VDP combined with the right data is an excellent marketing option for clients as diverse as charitable organizations and casinos to insurance agencies and college alumni departments.
Individualized Pieces – The secret to a variable data printed piece is in how the information and artwork is integrated. While the name and address are from one database, the customers stated preferences are also utilized so that the right copy and artwork is also included. This process allows the designer to incorporate pre-written copy and preselected pictures about the best choices of product for a customer.
For instance, a casino might know that certain customers preferred “FREE Dinner” while others wanted their hotel room comped. With non-VDP, the designer is constrained into sending the same piece to both customers with an offer for a meal and/or a room. With VDP, the designer can send two or more meal offers to one customer and room offers to the other – complete with appropriate photos.
Increased Response – As you can imagine, this type of marketing better targets potential customers and produces a superior response rate. The most basic use of the process returns double the response rate while more sophisticated campaigns can yield a response 15-20 times greater than a static direct marketing campaign.
Lowered Costs – The vast majority of work in a variable data printing campaign is in the development of the text, graphics and images so that they align with the available data. In addition, the collection of data can be time consuming. However, once this effort has been made, a VDP campaign can be customized to fit any budget.
The campaign can affordably be run over and over again to a select group of clients or to new pools of prospects as they are generated. In addition, VDP allows a marketer to experiment on a small test group before committing resources to a larger campaign. Lastly, you can even build in “fail safes” to exclude customers who have never responded to a certain number of offers.
Customized Follow-Up Campaigns – Similarly, as more data is captured on responsive clients, further enhancements to the campaign can be made. More info can be sent on selected products or the piece can be modified to address what stage of the “buy-cycle” the customer is in.
The Bottom Line – As you can see, variable data printing can have a huge effect on the direct marketing campaign of a forward looking marketer. The technology is available and your company most likely already has all the data it needs. Now, you just need to a take that leap of faith and combine the two.
In his new book Digital Disruption, James McQuivey, a Forrester principal analyst, explains that technological advances are creating opportunities for more people to meet more customer needs than ever before at lower costs– and that is the essence of digital disruption.
While some businesses have been digitally disrupted, the ones listed below have been completely transformed by the digital age of media that has evolved over the past 20 years.
- The music business (YouTube, iTunes)
- Banking and insurance (online banking, photo deposits, digital signatures)
- Photography (film is nearly extinct)
- Retailing (bricks and mortar are now optional)
- Travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak)
- Newspaper and magazine publishing (online subscriptions)
- Telecoms (home phones are going extinct, VOIP)
According to McQuivey, digital disruption is about to completely change how companies do business. Digital tools and digital platforms are driving the cost of innovation down to nearly zero, causing at least 10 times as many innovators to rush into your market while operating at one-tenth the cost that you do.
This is one reason companies are hiring or stealing the brightest digital innovators in the marketplace like Jeff Hammerbacher, data entrepreneur, who was one of Facebook’s first employees and who is now the co-founder of Cloudera (a Silicon Valley software start-up).
IT, app and software geniuses are in demand today because of the need for companies to protect themselves against digital disruption. Companies needed the brightest and future-forward thinkers on board to retool their businesses to stay ahead of the just-in-time needs of their customers.
3 Ways Your Company Can Stay Ahead of Digital Disruption
Ever-advancing technology forces any company from a lube shop to an international airline to leverage technology to speak one-on-one with its customers and deliver competitive costs, convenient services and products that exceed their expectations.
Personalize Your Interactions. Using well-oiled and captured data enables you as a savvy marketer to send customer communications that are relevant and personalized. Whether you use highly personalized email or variable data print pieces your marketing can be extremely targeted. Consumers welcome personalized offers. They love that you know their likes and market accordingly. Are you using data-driven marketing to optimize your appeal to individual customers?
The Need for Speed. Real-time interactions separate the amateur from the pros in marketing and product delivery. Just look at Oreo’s response to the Super Bowl blackout as lesson #1.
Integrate and Automate. If you haven’t already integrated your marketing channels and platforms, you’re already at risk of digital disruption. Get all your customer contact points talking to one another seamlessly and then tap the power of marketing automation to extend your reach and shorten the time to market. Using sales force automation tools and your CRM (customer relationship management) system you can marketing in a trigger based fashion for maximum customer engagement.
If this post frightens you, perhaps it should. Talk to any CEO or CMO and ask them about their top concerns with the business and chances are disruption and marketing effectiveness will be in the top five. The good news is there are industry experts and talent on hand to help you transform and deliver. Unfortunately this is an endless process.
The 1980s Australian band, INXS (pronounced “in excess”) has yet to retire though critics plea that they reconsider. The band’s name summarizes the excesses of that period, which include plenty of waste in the marketing industry — mass mailings, print overruns, static, soon-to-be-tossed collateral pieces, and one-way, non-triggered communication.
The spoilage and fallout of living to extremes or marketing to the masses has led us to today’s fine-tuned world of print on demand, variable data printing (VDP), and print automation. The pendulum has swung toward tighter controls, two-way communications, well-timed incentives, and just enough materials to get the job done and the results needed. Are you working smart or stuck in the world of give me 5,000 pieces instead of the 4,500 pieces really needed because it only costs me another $50 printing, one-way conversations, all delivered through one-channel vs. highly engaging multi-media campaigns?
When executed with tightly refined parameters and a laser-focused prospect list, VDP with multi-channel marketing is the new sensation because it generates higher results despite the smaller reach in most instances. Today’s marketing tools and digital print pieces reduce the cost of print communication by as much as 90% —shaving off the bottom half of the pyramid below.
With print on demand, there is no need to warehouse materials and no inventory obsolescence. Supplement print on demand with print automation and you also omit the last three line items at the base of the pyramid: external creative, internal creative, and fulfillment/distribution.
Just in Time Printing Omits Waste
If you’ve ever had to throw away 7,000 image brochures because of a change in leadership, you’ve felt the pain of offset printing in today’s fast moving, ever-changing business climate. It is Murphy’s Law that as soon as the annual report or other key piece gets printed, something will already be out of date.
Refine Your List, Blanketing Populations is So 80s
If you haven’t determined who your customer is, you can spend a lot of money blanketing populations of people and be missing those potential customers who are actually interested in your business.
If you’re pulling data from your internal database for your mailings, make sure your data is scrubbed and solid. A data quality survey revealed:
- 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.
If you’re using an outside list company or broker for your marketing project, make sure it’s been cleaned or scrubbed (the process of detecting and removing or correcting any information in a database that has some sort of error).
Errors can be the result of human data entry error, merging of two databases, a lack of company-wide or industry-wide data coding standards, or due to old systems that contain inaccurate or outdated information.
When in doubt about the accuracy and deliverability of your list, hire a mailing expert or partner with a reputable mail house to provide:
- Data Normalization
- Data Migration
- USPS CASS-Certified Address Cleaning, Parsing (Splitting)
- USPS NCOA Processing, Duplicate Record Removal (AKA: “De-Dupe” or “Purge”), Data Standardization & Reformat
Finally, make sure you’re using the tools of the 21st century in your marketing practices today and have retired the shotgun approach of the 80s. This is a period of refinement, not excess.
The Land of the Giants was a 1970 television show about a space ship that gets lost passing through a strange cloud and lands on an alternate Earth-type planet where the inhabitants are 12 times the size of its passengers. The show tapped the common conflict between the underdog and the giants (or corporate goliaths) of the world.
Small and mid-size businesses, though 12 times smaller than their competitors, can portray themselves as big or giant businesses through the use of tools like email marketing and marketing automation (MA) in today’s digital world.
MA or Email Marketing – Aren’t They the Same Thing?
To appear bigger, first you must pick your technology. Lauren Carlson at Software Advice finds many buyers mistakenly think that MA is a fancy name for email marketing. As a result these buyers evaluate vendors like Eloqua and Marketo (both of which provide a nice ROI calculator for bigger companies) against email services like MailChimp and Constant Contact that often support smaller organizations.
While both use email as the primary vehicle to talk to prospects or customers, email marketing keeps in touch with the prospect and tracks interactions based on a single campaign. Unfortunately email marketing stops there. Marketing automation follows customer interaction through all marketing touches and triggers appropriate messages based on this information without the need for manual triggering.
Marketing Automation can go a step deeper by tracking the entire chain of interactions that buyers have with a company and helps you make intelligent actions based on these behaviors. Furthermore, MA systems don’t just track – they act. Based on what your prospects do, the system can automatically:
- Start a series of emails over the next few weeks
- Send that prospect to a different web page based on his or her lead score
- Or have a sales person reach out if the prospect is at a critical point in the decision making process.
Email tools don’t segment audiences or respond in this way without manual intervention. See the chart below from Lauren’s blog post, “Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation: Which is Right for You?” for a breakdown of what you should be getting from your email marketing or marketing automation system.
|Features||Email Marketing||Marketing Automation|
|Create & send emails|
|Automation & triggers|
|Reporting & analytics|
|Mass email delivery|
|Web behavior capture|
|Social media management|
Can a Small to Mid Size Business Afford Email Marketing or a MA System?
The price of email marketing is based on either the number of emails sent or the size of your mailing list – usually running less than $100 per month. According to Tom O’Leary of GroupMail, email marketing continued to provide a $40.56 ROI for every dollar spent in 2011.
The price for marketing automation systems on the low end start at $200 a month and go up to $1000 and sometimes much more each month.
While a larger investment, if it helps you close sales faster or land more accounts it is a consideration to take your one giant step closer to moving from an underdog to a big dog.
Read more in Lauren Carlson’s blog post, “Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation: Which is Right for You?”
In the 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham, Crash (Kevin Costner) mentors Nuke (Tim Robbins) about what clichés to recite to the media after a big win. Though not the brightest bull in the pin, Nuke, executes beautifully upon pitching his first no-run win in the majors by saying, “I’m just happy to make a contribution and be part of this team.”
Cursory clichés or generic reports don’t work in the world of marketing where marketing management is a must. Campaigns must be measured by something as concrete as hits, runs, and RBIs in baseball. Surprisingly with all the measurement tools available – landing pages, QR codes®, Facebook likes, Tweets, trackable phone numbers, and Google analytics – a number of marketing programs are still falling short when it comes to reported metrics.
I recently called a dozen advertisers randomly to learn if they would be willing to share their return on investment or success around a specific marketing effort. I was not surprised to learn that seven out of 10 had no idea what they were recouping from the thousands of dollars each month they were investing.
With marketing budgets shrinking to around 5% of sales, justifying the financial contribution marketing delivers seems imperative. However, recent research conducted by Lenskold and the Pedowitz Group showed that just one in three B2B marketers worldwide report financial-contribution metrics to senior management.
Financial metrics might consist of measurements such as:
- Return on Investment
- Average revenue per closed sale
- Marketing-generated opportunity closed
Why are 66% of marketers not measuring how their marketing efforts are contributing to the bottom line? Why are those that are measuring not reporting it to management? Perhaps they need a marketing ally to automate and track their campaigns so the burden is reduced and results heightened.
Sometimes just breaking down a process in simple steps can put you way ahead of the competition. To use another sports analogy, Olympic track and field legend, Edwin Moses, went nine years and nine months without losing the 400-meter hurdles. He accomplished this by breaking down the race to specific steps and eliminating waste.
While Moses’ competitors blasted out of the blocks and took 13 steps before jumping the first hurdle, he used his 9 ft. 9 in. stride to eliminate one step between each hurdle – therefore crushing his competitors for nine years.
One of our clients did nearly the same thing by analyzing its performance around employee benefits catalogs that weren’t being personalized and were taking 7-10 days to get into the hands of their prospects. By tapping into variable data printing, this Fortune 500 provider of insurance products was able to personalize more than 1300 fields in their product catalogs around age, salary, compensation-related variables and they were able to automate the process to ensure that more than 352,000 were printed without error. Now they get catalogs into prospect hands in 2-4 days, error-free, and with the specific data they need to make instant enrollment decisions. This effort increased policy enrollments by 5%.
When B2B marketers fail to connect financial metrics to marketing and operations, they fail to connect some pivotal dots that CEOs and CFOs are watching.
What can you do to sharpen your pencil, tie your marketing campaigns to both marketing and financial measurement results, connect important financial dots, and put better metrics in play?
- Take a webinar on analytics
- Read up on data-driven marketing
- Download ROI spreadsheets
- Attend quality control meetings outside of marketing to learn the big picture and see what programs or tweaks are needed to make a difference for your company
The most indispensable players on any team are the ones making a true financial contribution. How are you managing your marketing assets or more importantly, measuring them?
Trigger marketing is more about being a good dance partner rather than the dance invitation graphic designer. You have to get on the floor with the prospect and be a good follower so you can react when they decide to twirl or dip (i.e. pick up the phone, swipe their credit card, or drive off the lot with the new sports car).
As marketers, we’ve always been good at figuring out what to sell and how to sell it. Advertising guru Les Wunderman says, “What we often can’t figure out is when to sell.”
Precision timing is critical in an artillery strike, the New Year’s Eve ball drop, aerial acrobatics, and a lead-nurturing campaign. A trigger is a flag that cues you to send a customer an email, coupon, whitepaper, or presentation invitation at just the optimal point in time – precisely when the customer needs it to make a decision.
Yes, it takes work, trial and error, and recalibrations, but the value of trigger marketing is it delivers three to 10 times more returns to your marketing bottom line. “Triggers always work better than random outreach,” says Mail Print CEO Gina Danner. “Because you’re working in sync with their decision making process.”
Know Your Customers’ Triggers
CRM News cites six types of marketing triggers that you can use to automate your marketing campaign. By knowing, documenting and putting these triggers into a system to enable your to do market automation, you’ll be ahead of the game.
- Customer life events- Birthdays, weddings, new baby and a new car purchase are all customer events that could merit an action or message on your company’s part based on your product or service. Automating the timing of these life events is critical.
- Transaction behaviors- Does a customers credit card purchase show that they’re in the middle of a home remodel? Does their declining credit score cue you to sell them on credit counseling or credit repair services?
- Online behaviors- Is your customer hot on the trail for information that signals a future purchase? Have they hit your insurance website, downloaded a life insurance eBook, or interacted on a social network?
- Expiration Triggers- Does your product or service have a maturity date that can be used to signal a context –sensitive offer or message from a lending institution?
- Credit Bureau Triggers- If a customer has a mortgage with a bank and the bank sees them looking for other credit lending solutions it could trigger a loyalty program or retention call.
- External Triggers- Changes in market or environmental conditions may indicate it’s time to kick in a campaign to protect your company’s reputation and environmental stewardship.
Don’t Be That Salesperson
You know you hate the pushy store clerk who runs up to you as soon as you walk in the door. He/she further creates a relationship gap by blurting out all the items on sale without even asking what you came in for. She makes you want to run for the exit door by telling you even more irrelevant store information you didn’t request.
Don’t be that person when you are nurturing relationships through your sales funnel. Push marketing is out, trigger marketing is in.
Hang back in the corner instead and be an expert observer ready to answer questions or provide more information when your customer asks for it. Listen and watch for virtual body language that signals interest and the need for assistance. Let the customer raise their hand before addressing their needs.
It’s respectful, fruitful, and the new way of doing business in this customer-driven world.
Marketers want to talk to prospects and salespeople want to talk to buyers. The courting process of moving a person from the prospect to buyer stage is called lead nurturing. Unfortunately most B2B marketers aren’t very good at it. In fact, among marketing automation adopters, only about 1 in 3 believe they have an effective lead nurturing process, according to research from Bulldog Solutions/Frost & Sullivan.
Like in a courtship, nurturing involves two-way communication. To have an effective dialogue with your customers you must watch their digital body language and listen to where they are in the purchasing process.
Too often marketers make nurturing synonymous with email drip campaigns. While this tactical effort is easy to put in place, it’s not effective in converting leads because it overly simplifies communications by making it one-way and one-size-fits-all.
“Simply delivering the same message to a broad audience (mass marketing), doesn’t allow for the 1-to-1 engagement that yields the best results,” says Carlos Hidalgo with Annuitas Group.
The graph below from Left Brain Marketing shows how good marketing communications involves listening to the prospect, then sending a message, and then waiting for a customer response before tailoring the next message.
Does a lead-nurturing program seem too methodical, time consuming, or too customized to implement or manage? The increased customer appeal and response of proper nurturing brings financial gains that make the process all worthwhile. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group showed that companies who implemented a nurture-marketing program had:
- 46% increase in annual revenue
- 26% increase in lead conversions to sales
- 25% decrease in cost per lead
IBM lead nurtures its customers by dividing them into one of three categories depending on where they are in the buying cycle. Leads are categorized as ‘Learn’ (potential client at the initial stages of a project), ‘Scope’ (interested in case studies white papers, conducting research) or ‘Select’ (interested in comparing and engaging with vendor).
IBM maintains a dialogue with those in the Learn and Scope stages as they progress through the sales cycle, using targeted collateral and promoting IBM’s solutions. Once prospects reach the Select stage, they are handed over to the IBM sales team for direct engagement.
The graph below shows how marketing and sales can work in tangent nurturing prospects during the inbound and outbound marketing process.
Your dialogue with your customers sets the tone for the relationship. Customers know that how you sell them is how you will serve them in the future. So set the tone by nurturing their needs and nurturing their trust.
If you provide valuable education and information to prospects up front and as they need it, you’ll become their trusted advisor. Then you’ll be first in line for their business when they move from the data collection phase into the purchasing mode.
With patience, ongoing dialogue, and a good lead-nurturing program, you can ensure you’re not leaving 8 out of 10 prospects on the table for your competitors.
Develop. Implement. Learn. Repeat… At Mail Print, everyday we learn from and refine our marketing processes. Back in October 2010, we posted a blog entitled “9 Ways to Decrease Direct Mail Spending While Improving Results.” Now, we have increased that list to 10 ways.
Here are 10 ways to improve both sides of the ROI equation with your direct mail campaigns:
- Clear out the Non-Responsive: Determine what deems someone non-responsive, and stop mailing when it is clear they are not going to respond.
- Segment Your Lists: Segment and target audiences on macro and micro levels. You don’t have to mail to everyone to be highly impactful.
- Personalize Your Message: Speak to specific audiences on a micro level. The more relevant your communications, the sooner you’ll see results or be able to deem recipients non-responsive.
- Test, Test, Test: Test the effectiveness of your message, offer and list on a smaller audience before deploying on a large scale. For example, direct marketers often send new messaging, creative or offers to 10% of their list first, measuring the results against the control or other versions of the marketing piece. Once a winner has been determined, the most effective version is sent to the entire audience.
- Automate: Print Automation and Marketing Automation technology allows you to increase your speed to market and decrease the cost spent to deploy each campaign. Auto-triggered campaigns can also be used to respond to prospect and customer actions with timely, relevant mail touches.
- Clean Your Data: Conduct a thorough data-cleansing of your house and purchased lists to eliminate duplicate, outdated or incomplete data. You’ll mail less, more accurately and improve your ROI.
- Use Your Returns: Do something with returned mail. This seems simplistic, but the tendency is to ignore returned mail and not update the database. Create a process so this is always done.
- Go Multi-Channel: Incorporate non-paper-based mediums such as email, text messaging, and online landing pages with your direct mail campaigns to increase engagement and reduce cost-per-touch.
- Pair Email and Mail: Utilize direct mail to keep email as a main communication method by mailing only to bounces, unsubscribes and consistent non-openers with the goal of determining why they are not engage via email. (Email: BFF blog MP.com/EmailsBFF)
- Honor Your Audience’s Preference: Eliminate people from your list who do not wish to receive mail by utilizing the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. Learn more at https://www.dmachoice.org
Building a Plan for Reducing Your Direct Mail Costs
One of the biggest challenges to achieving the ten points above is not having a plan. Without a plan, marketers shoot from the hip and hope they get it right. And while that works occasionally, if you want something that controls cost and works consistently, start with a plan.
Last Week we discussed the results from a CMO Council Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimal Marketing Supply Chain“. This overview pointed out four key actions marketers could take to Obliterating Obsolescence:
- Leverage Digital Printing Strategies
- Cross Functional Collaboration
- Go-Green to Gain-Green
- Bringing in the Big Marketing Supply Chain Brains
While those are basic strategies any business can employ, we also know that before going down that path it makes sense to do some straightforward self assessment. Spend some time with the questions below and answer openly and honestly. As a marketing leader you are always looking for ways to ensure your organization gets better and better.
Marketing Operations Self-Assessment
- What inventoried items have become obsolete? Why?
- What regular processes do members of your marketing team do that are wastes of time and skill set?
- If you could change the way you buy ads, deploy email, manage printed materials, trigger direct mail, hire talent, create copy, or plan your next move, what would that look like?
- How could you streamline your workday?
- What marketing processes have failed in the past?
- Do you ever cross your fingers, hope, and pray that nothing goes wrong when deploying a campaign? If the answer is yes, it goes on the list.
- Would it improve your results if marketing campaigns could be deployed faster? If so, what does an ideal timeframe look like?
- Is the work flow in your department planned, or hap-hazard? How about between departments?
- What have you done more than twice this week?
- If you could waive your magic wand and have everything in your marketing department run smoothly and perfectly what would it look like? What technology would be in place? What people would you have on your team? What results would you be reporting to your superiors?
I personally love question #10. Question #10 allows you to create the perfect world and once you can envision that world you can start to impact the day to day reality. Spend lots of time on #10. Create a real vision for what you can do and start chipping away.
My daddy always said if you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t really matter what road you take. Question #10 is where you are going AND what road you will take depends on your resources and how you answered questions 1-9.
Now comes the challenging part. If you aren’t sure what your answer would be to #10, call us. At Mail Print we have helped many companies realize great results implementing new marketing technologies and procedures that they didn’t even know were possible. Read below about a nationally known, multi-million dollar company that has utilized a Marketing Asset Management system to unify their marketing message and cut-out obsolescence.
Ferrellgas, a Fortune 1000 energy provider, needed to manage marketing for their 900-plus locations more quickly and efficiently. In addition, they needed to increase the speed of their direct mail marketing production to ensure their time-sensitive messaging reached customers on time. Learn how Mail Print’s Marketing Communications Portal helped Ferrellgas reduce management time by 300 hours per month and speed production times from 10 days to 24 hours.
Prompted by growing demands from CEO’s and CFO’s for greater accountability, marketers have begun to focus on improving the efficiency of marketing operations. They now recognize that improving the productivity of marketing operations can be a powerful way to stretch marketing dollars. The equation is simple. The dollars saved by improving the efficiency of marketing operations can be redirected to campaigns and programs that generate increased revenues.
One area of marketing operations that offers huge opportunities for improvement involves the procurement, production, storage, and distribution of marketing collateral documents. This part of marketing operations typically produces a significant amount of waste and is filled with processes that are highly manual and inefficient.
Reduce Cost By Streamlining Marketing Processes
To eliminate these wastes and inefficiencies, a growing number of companies are implementing marketing asset management (MAM) systems that automate the process of ordering, producing, and fulfilling requests for marketing assets and materials. In the right circumstances, these systems produce substantial cost savings and streamline the processes that surround the production and handling of marketing communications. This chart depicts the streamlined process using Marketing Asset Management:
To read more about how automated marketing asset management systems work and the factors that determine whether investing in an asset management system would be a good move for your business download “Is a Marketing Asset Management System Right for My Company?”