Archive for the ‘Personalization’ Category

Avoid These 10 Marketing Traps

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Is marketing your friend or your foe? From printed collateral to social media, each of your marketing materials are your representatives, telling your brand’s story and making first impressions on your behalf. If you want to get loyalty, raise your profile, and make the sale, it’s vital that your marketing is the best it can be. Here are 10 marketing mistakes you need to avoid.

  1. Fuzzy messages
  2. Self-importance
  3. Lack of a plan
  4. Missing calls to action

To see these mistakes further explained, actionable solutions for each one, and the other 6 common marketing mistakes, download our article, Avoid These 10 Marketing Traps.

There are many marketing mistakes out there – these are 10 common ones that I thought would be beneficial for you to learn more about. Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilink.me/10Traps. What other common marketing mistakes do you see often? I’d love to get a good list started below!

Great Infographic to Share with Clients

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Looking to convince clients that they need to make a greater investment in updating their databases? Here is a great infographic that makes the point in a powerful (but sometimes funny) way. The infographic relates to business data (such as changing address or phone numbers) more than it does consumers, but the point is made regardless.

For example,

  • In the 30 minutes you spent checking your mail, 127 companies changed phone numbers.
  • In the 25 minutes you spent commuting to work, 40 businesses changed locations.
  • In the 15 minutes you spent eating breakfast, 27 business changed names.

It also claims that bad data costs businesses $600 billion annually and up to 20% of revenue. It’s a great attention grabber . . . and a great excuse for your customers to let you help them update their marketing databases!

The infographic was created by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and shared by Marketing Profs.

Day Worth of Data

Why Your Clients Should Be Offering Email Couponing

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

If you’re a printer, you want clients to spend more money on print. So why should you encourage them to offer email coupons? Because email coupons are trackable, and they tell your clients what their customers are buying. That tells your clients a lot about those customers they can use for higher value print personalization later.

Experian Marketing Services’ 2013 4th Quarter email trends and analysis found a 50% year-over-year increase in the number of email campaigns offering coupons. As reported by MediaPost, whether the coupons were redeemable in-store, online, or both, email blasts with coupons outperformed other promotional mailings on open, click, and transaction rates. They also had 48% higher revenue per email ($0.10 for coupon mailings compared to $0.07 for other promotional mailings) in Q4 2013.

That’s a very active, engaged audience that can feed you a lot of information. Let’s say your customer is a specialty retailer offering a variety of pet products. It doesn’t have a loyalty program and isn’t large enough to track data at the point of sale. But you start sending email campaigns with coupons. The coupons that get printed, clicked through, or downloaded tell that customer which households have what types of pets. This allows you to help the store craft targeted campaigns directed at their specific pet needs.

Over time, it can alert the store to changes in pet ownership, too. Suddenly, the Smith, Jones, and Gordon families are downloading coupons for puppy chow. It’s a pretty good bet they just purchased a puppy. This can prompt mailings for grooming services, puppy beds, crates, and a variety of other products they are likely to need. In six to eight months, puppies grow into nearly full sized dogs, and those families will need larger beds, larger crates, training classes, flea and tick control for larger dogs, and so on.

One of the big hurdles to detailed targeting for small and mid-sized businesses is the lack of tracking at the point of sale. It’s great to talk about targeting and personalizing based on past purchase behavior, but most small and mid-sized marketers don’t know what their customers are buying. Email couponing gives insight into those behaviors in a way that’s realistic and affordable even for small businesses.

Increase the Value of Your Email Marketing Efforts

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Would you like to give your customers the marketing messages they want, the way they want them? Of course you would. That’s why you need to make the most of your email marketing. With up to 77% of customers preferring to get their marketing messages via email, it’s time to make sure you are getting the most out of this valuable resource.

Why Email Marketing Matters

Email marketing offers a lot of advantages. Email is:

  • Customizable – you can customize everything from your email content to what triggers an email to be sent. It’s a versatile medium, so use that to your advantage.
  • Affordable – setting up an email campaign is cost effective. Crafting a good email takes time, but emails are still relatively quick to put together compared to other marketing materials.
  • Relationship focused – email brings you into direct relationships with your customers, encouraging them to take action on your messages.
  • Measurable – email metrics tell you everything from open rates to click through rates and unsubscribe rates. All this tells you what you are doing well and where you could do better.

How To Make The Most Of Email

Email is a great ally for your business, but how do you make the most of it? Your aim is to send timely relevant emails that will be opened and acted upon. Start by:

  • Keeping it personal – you’re not sending email to “your list”, you’re sending it to the individual customer who is going to read it. Keep them in mind and address them directly.
  • Keeping it snappy – customers get a lot of marketing messages. Make yours stand out with an attention-grabbing headline and content that lets your brand’s personality shine through.
  • Keeping it customer focused – make the time spent reading worth their while. Instead of opening with why they need to buy your product or service, offer information that will be useful to them. Inform and entertain first, sell second.
  • Keeping it actionable – email is a great medium for encouraging action. Make it clear what the next step is, whether that’s getting in touch, placing an order, or looking out for the next eye-catching missive.

Email is a marketing mainstay that offers a welcome boost to your business. Give plenty of love to your email list and give them tantalizing content that will establish your business as worth paying attention to.

Have you had success with email marketing? I’d love to hear. Share your tips and best practices below!

Can Social Media and Direct Mail Merge Seamlessly?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

“Social media isn’t a fad, and I think we can all accept that,” said moderator Barbara Pellow, Group Director of InfoTrends, in January’s webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America.

This we know: social media isn’t a new trend. It has an established yet evolving role within the marketing sector. So the question becomes, how does the print industry integrate social media into traditional marketing pieces, like direct mail, to offer optimal customer outreach?

Renée Hall, VP of Business Development at Dukky, and John Ortiz, Director of Operations and Sales at Your Preferred Printer, give an overview and case-study examples of successful, seamless integrations. The speakers touch on strategies and software tools for merging social media with direct mail, which ultimately bolster a client’s network and increase bottom line sales.

Let’s consider the facts. When 1000+ enterprises were surveyed in 2013, social networks were cited as the number one area in which media usage will increase. In addition, 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to a digital channel in order to reach broader audiences and boost response rates.

Now, how are these social networks leveraged?

In order to answer this question, printers must first start by defining their business altogether. Hall finds that most printers have either transitioned to become full marketing agencies with in-house printing capabilities, or they now characterize themselves as a ‘printer+’. As a printer+, the business presents itself as a traditional printer, but integrates online, digital components to complement mail pieces. “Embrace new technology, keep and expand your services, provide tools for measurement and analytics, and leverage what already exists” are just some of Hall’s suggestions for success.

After updating the business approach, printers must next consider the new role of direct mail. It’s no longer a one-way, exposure-oriented form of communication; rather, it’s an entry point to cultivate a conversation and gather information. Take Hall’s Chick-Fil-A example: 5,000 mailers were sent out to gather demographic information of potential customers and to inform them of the branch’s opening. The postcards featured free food promotions that required online validation. Once online, customers were prompted to take a short, information-gathering survey. Once completed, they were able to receive the promotion and “share” the offer within their social network. On opening day, 14,000 customers walked through the branch’s doors. 20% of which accredited the decision to the direct mailer and it’s online component ‘call-to-action’.

Sounds like one successful way to get customers engaged, mobilized and excited. For more examples of seamless integrations and for the complete list of tips, check out the recorded webinar here:


 

 

Useless Personalization: Would You Have Stepped In?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I saw something odd in my mailbox this morning. It was from a local auto dealership. It was personalized based on my use of their service center . . . once. I opened it, and two lines caught my eye.

The first line was in the opening of the letter. “Heidi, I noticed you haven’t visited [dealership] for service in over a year . . .”

The second was the headline for the call-out box next to it. It was in red, bold, and large font: “SPECIAL PRICING PROGRAM.” The pricing wasn’t on service. It was on purchasing a new vehicle.

I put down the letter and thought about what I’d just seen. The dealership is calling my attention to the fact that I haven’t been to the service center in more than a year — and they want to sell me a new car.

That’s an odd combination. Either I haven’t been there in a year because I’m dissatisfied, I’m taking my car somewhere else, or my 2005 Chevrolet Equinox is in amazing shape and hasn’t needed even a tune-up.

If the latter, then why do I need a new car? Now, I can understand if I weren’t a lapsed customer but a frequent customer. You know: “Heidi, we’ve noticed you’ve been into our shop 5 times in the past 7 months. How about a new ride? We’ve got great financing on NEW VEHICLES for valued customers like you!” But it didn’t.

I could spend a lot of time busting on this particular letter, but what I really want to know is this. If you had been producing this job, what role would you have played? Would you have asked to look at the copy before it went into production? Asked about targeting based on service history? Looked at the promotional offer in the call-out box to see if it matched (in any way, shape, or form) the content of the letter?

How Pizza Changed the B2B Customer Mindset

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

We all know that technology continues to transform the ways companies serve consumers at a rapid pace. But have you thought about how these new conveniences are changing the mindset of B2B customers? One of the most noticeable changes is how access to real-time, detailed information in peoples’ personal lives is also becoming an expectation in their professional lives.

Shoes Shipped Fast; Pizza Personalized; Forget the Taxi

Maybe this change started with shoes. The Zappos mantra of exceptional service in the form of selection and delivery times moved the expectations bar higher. Then Friday night pizza delivery morphed from a phone call to a mouse click or screen swipe. Order pizza online at Domino’s and you can choose olives on the left or right and know who’s making it. Then the “Dominos Tracker” allows you to watch your pizza move through various stages of production with a notification when it’s left the store. It’s a similar situation when you want to avoid the hassle of hailing a cab. When you order car service through an app like Uber, you can see the fare and precisely how long until your car arrives. And like your pizza, all large shipping companies, including the Postal Service, provide the ability to track a package you shipped or a product you ordered along its delivery route to its final destination. These consumer experiences, and many more, are transforming how customers expect to be served in business settings.

Changing with the Changing Mindset

This nearly instant access to information has shifted the mindset of the B2B customer. They want – and need – a similar level of transparency on the status of complex projects and transactions, in as close to real-time as possible. At IWCO Direct we’ve noticed this changing mindset. We are streamlining our workflow processes with tools that add value and make it easy to do business with us. But we’re not stopping there. We’re transforming our customer experience model and production processes. By enhancing our digital workflow, we will give our customers more robust views into the status of their jobs, along with the tools they need to make their job easier.

All of this is being implemented with the understanding that every individual action collectively creates the customer experience. From accounting to the production floor, we all play a role. As you can imagine, this is quite the undertaking. We’re very excited about how it will transform the experience for our customers and more fully engage our employees. We plan to share updates on our progress and additional insights in the coming months, so please check back often.

You can read more posts like this on the IWCO Speaking Direct Blog. 

Blog Author: Pat Deck
Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and graduate of The Citadel and the Naval Postgraduate School. Bringing the “work hard, play hard” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly five years. Commissioned Officer of the U.S. Navy, music and travel lover and Chicago Bears fan. 

When Databases Attack

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Last week in this space, variable-data printing guru (guress?) Heidi Tolliver-Walker wrote about Geico’s VDP misstep, where they had sent out a letter “personalized” to someone who no longer lived at her address. As I’ll point out in a moment, VDP missteps can even be worse than that.

Since the very beginning of so-called variable-data printing—indeed, even going back to the very first rudimentary mail-merges—one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest challenge, in making 1:1 marketing effective, let alone successful, has been the quality of the data used for the mailing. Remember those old personalized letters we used to receive:

Dear Mr. Ramono,

We very much want to put you, Mr. Ramono, in a new car. Mr. Ramono, have you ever seen yourself behind the wheel of a luxurious yet sporty new vehicle. Have you ever envisioned your own vehicle, Mr. Ramono, being the envy of your neighborhood? Surely the entire Ramono family would derive nothing but benefits from this…

You get the idea, and that’s actually not much of an exaggeration. Nothing says “hey, someone is writing to me personally!” like not only using my name in every single sentence (because who doesn’t do that?), but misspelling it every time. And now we can see our names misspelled in snowflakes, Alpha-Bits, letters etched in the sand, and so forth. Even when our names are spelled correctly, often direct mail comes addressed to us at a company we no longer work for or which no longer exists. Sometimes we move faster than the speed of databases.

Now, these little glitches are more amusing than anything, at least for the recipient. And on the plus side, I can use persistent errors like the above to figure out who has procured my name from whom. (One local organization has me in their database as “Ms. Romano,” which is a real drag.) And sometimes when I see something addressed to me at “Digital Imaging magazine”—which still does happen even though it’s been 15 years—it does trigger off a little sentimental remembrance of good old times… It’s kind of like Proustian direct mail, in a weird way.

However, a far more serious personalization glitch made the news, the Twitterverse, and cropped up on The Facebook Machine a couple of weeks ago. From the L.A. Times:

An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company’s junk mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different.

The envelope appeared to be a typical discount offering. But this one was addressed to “Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash.”

Seay’s daughter Ashley, 17, was killed last year in a car crash along with her boyfriend.

The first question Mr. Seay—and anyone reading about the incident—had was, “how did Office Max know that?” Here’s a clue:

In a statement, Naperville, Ill.-based OfficeMax said the mailer was “a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider”.

It’s actually not hard to figure out how that happened. Whoever compiled the database entered that particular datum in the wrong field and it was got included in the output fields. Anyone who has ever used a database program (I regularly used Filemaker a million years ago) has had that problem. Now, the real question is: why would this information be in any field in a database?

Phenomenal amounts of data on each of us are freely available to anyone who wants it. And most of it is perfectly legal. Death records (like birth records) are public, and there may even have been a death notice in the local paper. Property transfers are matters of public record, so if you have ever bought a house you know you are immediately included in “new home/homeowner” databases. Health records are supposed to be private, but information leaks out in a thousand different ways. From the L.A. Times article:

Dixon’s group [the World Privacy Forum] has found companies selling data on rape victims, seniors suffering from dementia and people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. She said companies created powerful data sets by combining personal information available from public records, census information and social media.

This is not a new debate, and in some ways it’s rather quaint to talk about privacy when so many people put virtually every aspect of their lives on Facebook, Instagram, etc. And Facebook makes the data you willingly share available to advertisers and marketers. The Office Max blunder doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know or at least suspect—or fear.

As marketers, and those who facilitate the efforts of marketers, we need to be careful about what we collect on potential customers—either directly or indirectly. We can’t stop the collection of sensitive information, but we can be careful about how we use it.

Geico Botches Direct Mail Personalization

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

It’s become part of our national consciousness . . . “Mike, Mike, Mike! What day is it? HUMP D-A-A-A-A-Y!!!”  It’s the Geico camel and his ridiculous waddle through the office. “Hump D-A-A-A-A-Y!” has become one of those brand phrases that become incorporated into our daily speech.

IMG_3048That’s why when this letter showed up in our mailbox, it had such promise. The familiar “Mike, Mike, Mike” replaced with “John, John, John” and the familiar camel staring at me across the envelope.

Unfortunately for Geico, there is no John here. It’s a quirk related to our former address. John is my father-in-law’s name, and it seems that the list never got cleaned.

Personalization should have really worked here. Unfortunately, when you get a name wrong — especially on the outside of the envelope — it’s not a good marketing tactic.

There are techniques to clean up messes like this before they happen. People move all the time, and there are tactics for identifying and removing duplicate names within a defined geographic radius.

If your clients are purchasing lists for producing personalized prospect mailings, work with someone who knows the pitfalls of purchased data and how to avoid common mistakes. When embarrassments like these get avoided, you look like the hero and your client doesn’t look like the heel.

Another Great Stat for Promoting 1:1 Printing

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Are you keeping a log of stats for promoting 1:1 printing over online alternatives? One of the categories of stats I keep seeing recently is how a high percentage of online targeting is completely mistargeted.

Most recently, Blue Research noted that not only is online advertising mistargeted, but consumers are getting so irritated by irrelevant advertising that they are abandoning the brands doing it.

Here’s the latest:

96% of consumers report receiving mistargeted information or promotions. While that’s not new, many are so fed up that they are abandoning brands as a result. [1]

Sure, there is the occasional database mess-up in 1:1 printing, but overall, targeting in print is highly accurate. The contrast with online mistargeting can create a powerful impression on customers thinking of reducing print volume in favor of electronic alternatives.

[1] 2014 Consumer Research: Social Login and Personalization (Blue Research 2014)

Personalized URLs: In-House Lists Vs. Prospecting Lists

Friday, December 13th, 2013

On Tuesday, I wrote a post about the changes in perception and expectations regarding personalized URLs. I’ve gotten some great feedback, including a comment I’d like to share here.

Many see anything interactive like a PURL as being a trip to nowhere except a hundred more emails a month, and more telemarketing calls.  It takes time to separate the legitimate benefit from previous pratfalls.

I totally agree with this. In fact, it’s why I have listed as one of the best practices for personalized URLs as using an in-house list rather than a prospecting list. In-house lists naturally come with a higher level of trust.

An exception would be prospecting lists in which respondents want ongoing contact from the marketer. A classic example comes from the Zeiterion Theater (whose case study can be found in PODI’s case study archive). It created a profile of the ideal patron, then sent a prospecting campaign to the desired demographic and invited them to log into a personalized URL for a chance to win free theater tickets. Even if respondents didn’t win, they responded because they were interested in theater and were most likely wanting and expecting additional and ongoing contact.

But the issue of not responding because of concern about unsolicited telemarketing calls is a very legitimate one and one of the reasons that in-house lists can be a more effective channel.

What’s your experience? Do you encourage clients to use in-house lists? Or do you use personalized URLs for prospecting? If so, how do you get around this perception?

What’s the State of Personalized URLs?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Once or twice a year, I update my educational reports and brandable white papers on a variety of topics related to digital printing and personalization. Recently, I updated the one on personalized URLs. What stood out to me?

How mainstream they’ve become. Years back, I remember regularly writing blog posts and articles on how personalized URLs were being unfairly criticized as under-performing in comparison to other personalization techniques. It wasn’t because they didn’t “work.” It was because expectations were unrealistic and they were being used improperly. (Sound familiar? Can you say “QR Codes”?)

I talked about how personalized URLs were not campaigns in themselves, but simple response mechanisms used for the right campaigns to achieve specific marketing goals. I talked about how success campaigns using personalized URLs were often (not always, but very often) being sent to in-house lists, not prospecting lists, and how critical targeting and segmentation were to success.

It really struck me how I don’t write about that anymore. In fact, response rates for personalized URLs and full personalization are equalizing, but not for the reasons one might think.

The ear-tickling answer is that people have figured out personalized URLs and response rates are rising to the level of the super-successful, full-blown 1:1 personalization, but that’s not true. It’s because expectations for what full-blown 1:1 personalization can do on a day in, day out basis are becoming more realistic.

When I first started writing on these topics, campaigns had to be getting response rates in the 20-30% range before they were deemed article-worthy. Today, they have become sufficiently mainstream and the focus has sufficiently switched to ROI that even single-digit response rate campaigns are written about when they are highly profitable. Response rates matters less now than conversion rate and ROI.

That’s good news for personalized URLs, which had a bad rap for a long time. But it’s really good news for everybody because it means, not that the personalized URL market is maturing, but that marketers’ understanding and expectations of these applications is.

What’s your opinion? What do YOU think is the defining change in this marketplace?

Big Data: Success Starts with the Problem

Friday, December 6th, 2013

There as a great article on Forbes.com recently that talked about the key to big data. It’s not building better databases. It’s not integrating data silos. It’s not the use of multiple channels (although all of those things are important). It’s starting out by knowing what problem you want to solve.

It sounds simple, and it should be. Like QR Codes, personalized URLs, and all of the other hot buzz technologies in the marketing world today, big data is not an end unto itself. It is just a tool to get somewhere else.

The article gave some great examples of how big data solved real world problems, such as how UPS used big data to predict likely truck repairs and bring down its maintenance costs and how the U.S. Tennis Association used big data to draw its fans more deeply into the matches, and they’re worth a read. But how to take that focus and apply it to the world of marketing?

Start by asking what the client wants to accomplish. For example, I want to boost my sales on Tuesdays, my slowest day of the week. Or, I want to get people to buy maintenance contracts with my products. Or, I want to get sell more X to this demographic. Nail it down. Be specific. Then ask what data — specifically — is needed to accomplish that goal.

Do you have that data in-house? If not, where can you get it? Should you gather it in-house or is this really a list purchase with the right qualifiers?

It’s not about “Let’s do a big data program.” That’s overwhelming and meaningless anyway. It’s about targeting a specific problem, then bringing resources to bear on that problem.

Sometimes simplicity and focus are the most important assets you have!

Coupon Nirvana! Weis Learns from Kroger

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Recently, I wrote about being teased and left disappointed when CVS claimed to be offering personalized coupons and discounts for loyalty members, but as it turned out, it was only for online offers. What I wanted was personalized coupons in print.

With print, you know what you’re getting. You don’t have to sign up for anything to receive the discount. You don’t have to wonder what marketing gimmick you’ll have to try to identify and avoid, how closely you’ll have to read the fine print to avoid signing up for something else you didn’t want, and all that. You just take the coupon and use it. As a loyalty card member, that’s what I deserve, right?

Guess what I got in the mail yesterday? My grocery store, Weis, is now offering personalized coupons  . . . in print! They have taken a tip from Kroger, which started personalizing coupons earlier this year, and my local Weis store is now doing the same.

In my mailbox was what appeared to be the same booklet of tear-out coupons I’m used to receiving, but this time, it said “personalized” on the cover. I opened it, and sure enough, there were no more coupons for products I have never purchased. Instead, there were coupons for coffee creamer, whole grain breads, seasoning grinders, and even fresh meats and vegetables. Now that’s exciting! The trend toward truly personalized coupons is growing, and it’s moving into print.

Loyalty programs offer tremendous opportunities for your customers to provide value to their customers, and personalized coupons is yet another way to add to that value while providing you with opportunities to increase your print volumes at the same time.

Are your clients using personalized coupons? If so, how?

Lead Scoring: Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

We are hearing about lead scoring more and more these days. As print providers and their customers grow increasingly comfortable with personalization and multichannel marketing, those programs are becoming more sophisticated and automated. That is opening the door to lead scoring, lead nurturing, and trigger-based content delivery.

As you begin to develop automated lead scoring and lead nurturing for your customers, there is a critical point to remember. Lead scoring is typically based on information people input into online forms and triggers the appropriate lead nurturing path that follows. However, people lie.

It’s not necessarily that they are awful, horrible human beings setting out to mislead you. It’s that those online forms are often monstrosities unintentionally designed to frustrate. Respondents just want to get to the information they are looking for (watch a video, download a white paper, access a presentation). They don’t want to spend 10 minutes filling out an endlessly long, frustratingly complex form first. I know I don’t. Consequently, they will often select the first thing on the list — accurate or not — just to be able to move on.

I was reading a great post on Eloqua’s blog this morning that made this very point:

How many contacts have you generated from those who have selected Afghanistan in the country dropdown menu? It’s the first country available in most dropdown lists, and frequently selected to bypass necessary information and proceed to the next option to access gated content.

Amen! If you try to gather too much information, if the level of depth and complexity of those forms is inappropriate to the target audience, you can set yourself up for disappointing results. So when setting up lead scoring for yourself or your clients, don’t just think about the information you want to gather. Think about what respondents are most likely to actually provide . . . and provide accurately. Balance your goals with the likelihood of getting what you want.

The goal with lead scoring isn’t to get it done. It’s to get it done right.

Got any lead scoring disaster stories to share? Sometimes the best lessons are learned while laughing . . .