I’ve placed greater emphasis on multi-channel services and marketing in my earlier posts because it has to be part of an organisation’s strategy to deliver targeted buying messages to its audience or deliver transactional information in the way of a payslip, bill or statement.
How does a multi channel service work ?
Ask yourself what do you prefer paper or digital?
What are your motives for wanting to go paperless?
Is paper needed?
There are those who want to promote the continued existence of paper, whilst others spit in the face of it claiming that digital is the only way, digital or no way.
Each have their merits in the hierarchy but ask yourself this, why not use both? News just in, you can.
Multi channel utopia. Multi channel engagement with customers and employees.
The internet has changed the way we access and view information from payslips, invoices, statements and marketing content.
We rely on the internet to access information, to seek and retrieve, we shop for our favourite brands, we listen to music and watch films.
Consumers are putting businesses under pressure to provide multi channel services for the distribution of documents in both paper and digital versions.
Consumers are dictating where and when they want to view content, on and off line. Digital media usage will be dictated largely by the consumer’s behaviour.
The growth in the use of mobile internet and social media represents a great opportunity for information to be highly relevant and specific to the reader.
At the same time paper continues to be used in businesses everyday.
Paper documentation gives the added reassurance that the document is real and authentic, it can also be used as a physical reference rather than its electronic counterpart.
Should we give up paper distribution?
You can use both and that way you are not alienating customers that want paper and at the same time embracing those customers that wish to be totally digital.
There is room for both versions to co-exist.
Instead of online documents why not supply both a printed version and a digital one?
You are giving the customer the option to choose which solution they prefer by giving them a multi channel engagement option.
Allowing your customer to make their own choice means they retain control ensuring that all your customers are left feeling valued and important.
This is known as offering a multi channel service.
The option to distribute both paper and digital content which includes marketing messages, payslips, invoices, and statements to the end user.
Whether you are delivering payslips to your employees, bills to your customers or content marketing to your prospects the ability to provide this information using a multi channel service is key to making sure the ‘customer’ experience is meaningful and relevant.
Companies that don’t provide multi channel services are disengaging their customers and employees.
We live in a multi-media world and it is a short sighted strategy whereby a company delivers information on a single platform.
Consumers are digesting information from several media channels simultaneously including paper and print.
Making information available in digital, mobile and paper format will be challenging for organisations.
In a multi-device world, the main objective is to engage with the customer.
An organisation that is responsive to customers needs and gives access to a variety of channels can differentiate itself and set itself apart from its competitors.
Multi channel marketing interacts with the customer using a combination of indirect and direct communications channels that include social media, websites, catalogues, direct mail, phone, SMS/text, email, television and radio.
Channels can be used in combination or independently to deliver a branded message enabling the customer to take action in response to buy your product or service using their preferred channel.
Multi channel marketing and communications is about delivering information to your customers in a way that will engage them quickly, whenever and wherever they are.
With so many different channels available it gives the customer choice over the buying process.
Here are 5 things to consider when considering multi channel marketing.
1. Create visibility You must be where your customers are and this means you have to provide them with the opportunity to engage on all channels, which gives them the freedom to choose what information they want and on what platform, at their convenience.
Customers today have more buying power than ever before and no matter what your brand or company marketing message says, customers have the power to decide when they want to buy and who from.
They have to be able to interact with you at all stages of the buying journey and on whatever channel suits them. So making sure your message gets seen and heard is the key to making sure you are at the front of the queue when they are ready to buy.
All sounds very easy, right?
There are numerous pitfalls and one of the obvious is ‘I’m going to send out a mass email and newsletter to see what happens?’ Irrelevant messaging is guaranteed to be deleted even before the strap-line is read by the recipient.
The right message delivered to the right audience is not enough.
Each campaign or message has to be fine tuned across each channel so that the message isn’t distilled making it meaningful for the customer and trustworthy.
Customers need to be able to view your message, be attentive and receptive before they take action.
With so many mobile devices, smartphones and media channels, businesses must be able to develop well coordinated campaigns that use different touch points so that the customer can jump onto his preferred platform.
2. How do I know which channel(s) to use?
Understanding the profile of your customer is a good starting point. Having a single view of your ideal customer then helps you identify where they are likely to hang out.
Measuring the success of the campaign is easier if you send a direct mail or email marketing campaign because the responses are directly associated with the campaign and can be measured in click throughs and responses.
However, managing a coordinated campaign across different channels is more of a challenge.
Your website analytics will show you where the customer entered the website, which landing pages and what channel they jumped onto.
But the sequence of touch points that lead to the customer taking action is not so quantifiable.
Having loads of data is great fun but knowing what to do with it is another.
Having this data on a customer database and understanding which route your customers came from i.e. email sign ups, YouTube subscribers, Twitter followers is a useful starting point.
In our case our target audiences can be found on Linkedin, limited exposure on G+ and FB and some on twitter, this makes it easier for us to talk about what we do, who for and where to target the message.
Providing email sign ups and accessibility to information on your website in the way of downloadable PDFs and newsletters is a great way to attract your audience and keep them coming back for more.
At the same time you can encourage them to join you on their social media channel of choice.
3. Be consistent Maintain your consistency across all the platforms you intend to deliver your content and message that way the customer learns to associate you and your brand to the message.
From paper to digital keep it the same. I’ve been in print and communications for 25+ years and I’m still surprised when I see companies using different forms of advertising from paper to digital.
If your marketing messages are mixed it can give the wrong impression a high bounce rate on your website might indicate that your landing pages aren’t delivering what the customer was looking for.
Every digital marketing channel used must have a clearly defined objective and goal and keep in mind the end goal, what is the purpose of the campaign, what are my business objectives, who are my customers.
Having a precise set of goals will lead to a better marketing experience.
Ensure that any single campaign deployed gives the customer the same experience on all channels.
Your customers experience your brand in different ways so if they have a negative experience for example in your retail store then there is no value in having a positive online experience. So keeping it consistent and positive and treating each channel differently helps the customer experience.
4. Transform your data
Treat your raw customer data as gold dust. It can be used to deliver targeted and personalised information to your audience.
By having a data collection point and establishing where your audience hang out online (see point 2) helps you build a presence there.
Converting prospects into customers is the real end game and not about how many facebook likes, G+’s, followers, all vanity and not reality.
How many subscribed to your newsletter, read your e-books, downloaded a free trial you were offering.
Focussing on conversions, sales, sign ups and building customer relationships is key for business development.
5. Be mobile, Be digital
Following my Google seminar being mobile and being a digital business has to be part of the game plan. It’s not good enough being mobile friendly, your business has to be accessible via smartphones and easily shareable. It has to be digital.
Multi channel is not limited to goods and sales it is about developing interaction, including communication.
Customers want to consume content on different channels – email, mobile, online and print depending on the context and convenience.
It is impossible to predict which channel will be used when and so the only approach is to make your content, message, brand available on all channels.
Being a digital business and delivering your marketing efforts across multi channels is key to developing and keeping customers.
I was invited by one of Digital Print Management’s suppliers, to visit Google HQ in London recently to experience google’s ‘Drive for work” which is superseding google apps for work.
The purpose behind google’s re-positioning of this product is to make it more personal, accessible and more mobile for organisations.
There were a number of key factors that came out of the conference:-
This year alone it is estimated that 1.2 billion smartphones will be in worldwide use
Mobile video will increase exponentially
Mobile e-commerce is set to go even more ballistic
Mobile responsive websites are key to customer engagement
Encrypted BYOD which I’ve talked about will be ever more prevalent in the workplace
During the day I was impressed by the various presentations and videos, an american powerhouse company delivering great content.
However, there was one thing that resonated with me during the day and that was the use of the word ‘digital’. A digital business, a digital culture, a digital brand.
According to Google, digital and mobile are key to the future success of any business.
Google put forward the scenario that companies and brands should be thinking in terms of being a ‘digital’ organisation or business.
A digital business involves creating digital content using a communications strategy across all channels to excite the consumer along his/her journey to purchasing.
Organisations no longer sell goods, or services or products they are delivering meaningful digital content, subliminal messages to awaken the customer across a variety of channels as a way of planting the seed for purchase or opening the customers eyes to a problem they didn’t know they had.
I see a communications strategy looking something like this and should comprise of the following five components. This makes it easier to decide which and how many touch points you will use to deliver your content.
a creative strategy – the ideas bit
a media strategy – what media – print, social, video, TV, adverts (channels and platforms)
content strategy – what are you going to talk about, what are you trying to tell/sell your audience
a digital strategy – how do you deliver it and where
a mobile strategy – having mobile responsive websites, being able to view content across multiple devices
None of the above will be successful if used in isolation and simply calling it a “communications strategy” is too big a deal to work with.
Successful digital companies embrace new trends and innovation comes out of the need to meet and go beyond customer expectations.
These companies are successful because they no longer perceive themselves as a maker or provider of X but have repositioned themselves as a digital company.
An organisation able to deliver their brand, content and marketing message digitally.
In google’s words Digital brand = Digital culture = Digital success I would add at the end of that = multi-channel/media communications.
These companies are optimising digital platforms for marketing success.
Marketing in our digital world has changed. Advertisements in the major newspapers, leaflet drops in local and national newspapers, adverts on billboards and commercials on TV were how your brand and message was delivered in the past.
Whilst the above retains it’s place in the stratosphere getting noticed by your audience is increasingly more difficult.
How do you position yourself to be in the right place at the right time in front of the right people?
Using a multi-channel strategy combining digital services with print to communicate the same message but delivered in different ways is an effective way of staying in front of your audience.
An organization that is responsive to customer needs and provides easy access to a variety of channels can differentiate itself in an otherwise crowded field.
Organisations that do create a seamless experience and integrate different forms of technology into its marketing effort can gain customer loyalty.
We’ve become an increasingly mobile workforce, 68% of adults in the UK access the internet on the go (Office of National Statistics) the statistics would appear to stack up. Looking at DPMs analytics clearly shows that more people visit us via some form of mobile device.
In our 24/7 connected world business owners are accessing information around the clock from multiple devices and locations.
Multi-channel communications are about delivering relevant and timely information to your customers in an engaging way giving them the opportunity to interact with you and your brand. It is impossible to predict which channel will be used when so making your content available on all channels is a must.
Being able to co-ordinate a print and digital campaign simultaneously is a great way of targeting your audience with personalised communications.
In my next post 5 tips for digital multi-channel marketing success.
In reality hybrid mail has been around since the 70s and has come to the fore in the last 3-5 years. Whilst there are many large hybrid mail providers in the UK market place, most of their services are designed for the big corporate user and don’t always have the SME in mind.
The major benefit of hybrid mail is that it reduces the time, effort and money, printing and mailing out letters from even a few, too many thousands of letters.
How does it work?
Hybrid mail uses a mix of electronic and traditional processes. Whatever documents you want to print and post there are four steps to get them delivered:-
Upload the document you want to print and post
Preview your pages
Check your recipients
Order – choose either black and white or colour print, first or second class delivery
Hybrid works by enabling users to send individual or multiple page letters and documents created on any computer to a central print site via the internet. The letters are printed, merged with letters that the hybrid mail provider has produced for other customers that day and sorted into mailsort order ready for posting.
At the end of the day the mail is despatched via a bulk mail service supplied by the Royal Mail or one of their DSA competitors.
As with any new innovative print technology customers need to be able understand how the system works so they can then start to think about how it can be used to benefit their business.
Many companies still have an on-going requirement for mailing and posting out documents even the occasional small quantity and that is where hybrid mail lends itself very well.
How does hybrid mail add value to your business?
In my view any organisation that is printing and sending letters using a desktop printer will save time and money switching to a hybrid mail service.
Even organisations with larger in-house operations or using third party suppliers such as print and mailing houses to print their statements, invoices, customer letters, subscription renewals can save money.
Hybrid mail is a great way to get your promotional content out there backing up your online presence
Hybrid mail is not a complicated process. Unlike print and mailing services the cost is not based on the volume being mailed. Whether you send out one bespoke letter to one recipient or 500 letters to 500 recipients the unit cost is the same.
Some hybrid mail services will offer added value in the form of correcting inaccuracies in customer addresses free of charge through integration with the postal address file. [PAF]
Standardising your letterhead and corporate identity across your hard copy communications will enable you to ensure brand consistency without having to pay for re-design costs across a number of third party suppliers.
Some hybrid mail services allow you to set, limit and control spending at an individual user or departmental level which means you have full control over what gets mailed out and how much it costs.
One of the main advantages of hybrid mail is the reduction in your carbon footprint of each letter mailed. Letters that are printed through hybrid mail are printed on presses that are more energy efficient than a desktop printer on a per unit basis.
Bulk mailings cost less to transport and deliver across the country.
Quality, security and reliability are issues that would be users of the service may have concerns about. Most of the hybrid services run on https secure internet connections the same as the banks use and the physical print centres, where your letters are printed are ISO27001 accredited.
The reliability of hybrid mail compares just as well to a standard mailing service. Most print centres will have a validation process that monitors every letter in every mailing throughout the production cycle to ensure they can be 100% certain that each letter has been printed and mailed.
Can I use hybrid mail for multi-channel marketing?
I have emphasised the importance of personalisation when it comes to marketing your content and getting your message out there. Hybrid mail is a cost effective way of reinforcing your online brand by sending out a follow up message using direct mail.
It’s cheap, easy to set up and can fit in with your online content marketing and it’s a great way to push the same message more than once. Why not promote that event or special promotion numerous times through the mail.
The chances are you are promoting your message online many times but your audience isn’t always online and so misses it. Backing it up with a mailed promotional piece reinforces what you’ve done online.
By using both traditional and digital marketing approaches simultaneously you’re maximising the reach of your business’s message.
The more impressions or views your message can get the more effective it will be and hybrid mail should be right up there with your marketing strategy.
What does the ice bucket challenge have to do with content marketing, personalisation and multi-channel communications?
A lot as it turns out.
I got nominated for the ice bucket challenge on a rather windy, rainy morning on the last Bank Holiday of August but I’m not showing it here.
The challenge has delivered a formula that has made people share and talk about it all over social media. Marketing and sharing mixed with fun gone viral.
That’s when I came up with the idea for this post – content marketing, branding, talking and promoting your businesses should be fun.
If we want people to engage and ultimately buy from us we need to be able show the human and fun side of our business rather than ‘how this solution will work for your customer or how your customer can save money with this’.
In case you didn’t know…
The ice bucket challenge involves a person being nominated by a friend or colleague usually via twitter or Facebook to have a bucket of ice-cold water thrown over you.
It works like this on twitter: I nominate XXX to take part in the #icebucketchallenge in the next 48 hours then you donate to the MND association.
Pretty much the same on Facebook.
How did it start?
In the USA by founding members of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehring’s disease named after the famous baseball player who died from it. In the UK it is known as the Motor Neurone Disease Association. [www.mndassoication.org]
28 million ice bucket videos have been uploaded, commented on or ‘Liked’.
From July 29 to 28 August ALS $98.2 million in the same period they usually receive $2.7 million in donations.
The MND association receives on average £200k a week in donations but from 22-29 August it had received £2.7 million.
Macmillan has also taken advantage of the phenomenon and raised an additional £3 million from challenges. [Source: BBC News.co.uk/magazine]
What does the ice bucket challenge have to do with content marketing?
The whole point of the campaign is to raise awareness of a hitherto unknown disease that hadn’t got the public’s attention until now.
The fun side of the challenge has made it ‘viral’. A great marketing ploy with an injection of fun to plug a brand, in this case to raise the awareness of the disease that is ALS.
The ALS have been very effective in their marketing, taking a silly idea and making it fun and then sharing it with an audience, many of whom had no idea initially what it was all about – now they do!
How can WE make our content marketing, messages and branding fun?
Think of something unique that your audience can relate to and have fun doing it. Your targeted audience can see the humour and will appreciate your message a lot more.
Whether you sell a service, solution or product no matter how mundane make light of what it is your organisation sells or provides not by ridiculing the product or services but by making the content for your marketing fun and humorous.
For example begin a blog, direct mail or email marketing piece with: “shake it if you get excited about selling widgets…” Or clap your hands if you love industrial machinery… and use a funny image like this:
Knowing your audience and personalising the message is important. Providing content that is fun to read for your audience makes them remember you so the next time they need to order widgets they know who to call.
Put yourself in your customers shoes. Most of their day is like yours, too many emails, meetings and not enough time to get things done.
For example if a customer places an order rather than sending an electronic order acknowledgment/notification that says:
Thank you for the recent order you placed with us.
To make sure we get your delivery right please check the order.
You could try something like:
Thanks for ordering our fab widgets.
To say thank you we are giving a 10% coupon redeemable against your next order on any of our XYZ products so don’t forget to use it.
Jan, Pete and George are in the office from xx to xx call us if you need help with any of our products. Call us if you just need an online coffee and to have a chat with.
Add a daft image like this:
How many times do you get impersonal emails? I get so many I cant count the number that bear no relevance to our company’s services.
An email newsletter that features amazing new updates, why you must buy this XYZ before mid-night. B-O-R-I-N-G.
Often content marketing goes into length about how wonderful the services, products and solutions are by boring the reader to death and then there is the history of the company and the team who work in the company.
Companies are more interested in finding out what it is we can do to help them rather than reading about the history of the company that started in 1066 A.D.
Why not focus on the customer instead.
What are their issues, how have you’ve helped similar companies, show them what they will get if they use your services rather than selling them the proposition.
Send a handwritten postcard to say thanks, it’s personal and it’s personalised and I can speak from experience that it goes down really well.
When you treat customers like people rather than someone on the end of an email the results can be surprising.
The next time you decide on a marketing campaign or write some copy for your company’s products think ‘people’ rather than ‘prospects’ and aim to make the customer laugh.
Why is the ice bucket challenge so successful?
It’s simple, unique and so easy to take part. There’s no long-term commitment and people have fun which is how we want to be perceived, fun to do business with and fun to work with.
Although it is for a serious cause it has raised awareness of MND and people like to share their stories happy or sad. It has the human element and is therefore emotional people want to be part of it and be seen to be doing something to help the cause. When people see that your company means business but also has fun they want to be part of that too.
The call to action is a bucket of water thrown over your head. It costs nothing, there’s no requirement to buy anything, no personal information has to be given over just a straightforward donation to charity.
When customers visit your website, read your blog or follow you on social media if they see you having fun doing what you do that shines through.
People then feel compelled to get involved with you and your company and that is why the ice bucket challenge has been such a great success it’s a people story, human and emotional.
[Facebook robbery image courtesy of Fbgags.com]
[Baby chasing cat courtesy of funny-pictures.picphotos.net]
At least once a month I’m asked the same perennial question: Caroline, how can we save money on print? How can print management help me with reducing our print budget? What print management solutions are there available for my budget?
My response includes the following:-
What aspects of print are you looking to cut back on?
How many printers do you have in the building?
What documents does the business generate?
How often do your order ‘print’?
Now you start to get the picture. It’s not that easy to simplify the answer as there are many variables.
The printing of transactional business documents is a fundamental business process for many organisations and in spite of the drive toward paperless offices, companies in every industry generate reams of paper on a daily basis for record keeping, customer facing letters, direct mail and internal correspondence.
Unsurprisingly most companies I talk to are unaware of their printing costs. They have no idea what they are spending on print because it is unknown and not a monitored business expense.
When I ask them what their annual costs are I’m usually met with a blank stare.
A business cannot implement a print cost cutting strategy if the costs are unknown.
One of the main reasons, is that it is perceived as a necessary business process and therefore an ongoing cost to the business which doesn’t require to have a budget attributed to it.
How do I reduce my print costs – keeping it simple?
1/ Digital emails are uniformly used for communicating but do they really need to be printed and filed? By categorising (outlook) or labelling (Gmail) is a great way of indexing those all important emails for reference at a later date.
2/ Review before printing – Really do you need to print that document. It’s something I’ve had to work hard at myself as I hover over the ‘print’ button. Why am I printing this, what am I going to do with it and does anyone else need to read it? Therefore ask yourself do I really need to print it? Use the ‘preview’ before printing especially when it comes to spreadsheets they never fit onto an A4 unless you specify fit to one page or you make sure the orientation is correct. Otherwise ten pages of unwanted and unuseable print streams out and then gets binned.
3/ Recycle – that discarded bit of paper that you printed off one side only can be used for scrap notes and for doodling yes I know it sounds boring but how many times when printing something out do we notice a glaringly obvious mistake and then print the whole document again? When we only need to print the relevant page. I use these bits of paper like a montage and then sketch or doodle over the top of the print using a bright colour pen.
4/ Do you really need to print that document in colour? If it’s a draft document then print it out mono, check it and then print in colour.
5/ Switch off – rather than letting devices go into standby mode switch off before leaving the office. It’s all part of keeping costs down.
How do I reduce my print costs using print management software solutions?
1/ How many personal printers do you have spread across your organisation? Whilst the cost of personal printers has reduced considerably the cost of toner cartridges remains pricey. Opting for a MFPD (multi-functional print devices) using a managed print services option is a sure fire way of saving time and money.
2/ Optimise biometrics for printing using fingerprint or key card technology. If a document is sent to a local printer by mistake or staff print the wrong document or change their mind and want to cancel the print job this is easily done using secure print tracking software.
3/ Cut back on waste using print management solutions this allows staff to print only what they need on the right printer suitable for the document. Print software routes the document to a mono printer if it is black and white, colour to a colour printer.
4/ Manage your paperflow by having an effective document management system . This is an important step in ensuring a workflow pattern in the company. Document scanning software captures, indexes, archives and retrieves all your documents by creating a secure digital file cabinet.
5/ Track print costs by using print management software that enforces internal rules for staff reducing print volume and redirecting print jobs to the most cost effective device. Print tracking software shows where costs are being incurred and what is being printed and by whom. Costs are tracked across an entire company calculating the cost on the volume of print per person and by department.
There you have ten ways to reduce your print costs. There are others of course but as each organisation is unique I’ve covered the ones that I think are of the most use.
Before you even start down the road of personalising your communications whether via a PURL (personalised URL) or variable data printing you need to have a database containing the basic information to be able to start sending any form of marketing communication.
The first mistake most clients make is we want to go big, yep we’ve got 60,000 customers on our database and we want to blitz them with a marketing communication strategy we intend to role out over 4-6 months.
Start small and conservatively.
I guarantee the database will be out of date. It will have clients that no longer use your services and likely that there is no segmentation of the data i.e. broken down into industry type for example, retail, local government, higher education, banks/finance.
Do you know what the job position of the purchaser is? Is it the same for all your products and services or does it depend on which industry type you sell to?
Start with a campaign of 2,000 split between whatever your industry types are that might be 500 marketing emails or variable direct mail x four of your industry segments.
This makes it easier to manage internally and measure.
Sending out an email campaign using a PURL or direct mail to 20,000 potential customers is difficult to manage and is unlikely to be a huge success.
Starting small means you can select specific markets and restrict the number of recipients you market to.
This is achieved by having a qualified database with correct names, addresses, email addresses and job titles.
You can then extract the data by industry or job title or whatever variables you choose
Customising marketing campaigns makes your messages appealing to your audiences.
Adding variable data to either your marketing email or direct mail campaigns makes it relevant and personal. But don’t go for many variables and don’t make the salutation i.e. name and title of the person one of the variables, that should go without saying.
There is nothing worse than getting a non-personalised mail that says ‘Dear Customer’ followed by variable bits of information with discount coupons it is guaranteed to be either deleted or thrown away.
Does your database show the purchase history of your clients?
What did they buy? When did they buy? Is it seasonal? Is there a pattern of purchasing or is every customer unique?
Have you created lists for email or printed newsletters?
Have you created lists via job title?
Have you created lists according to industry sector?
Do you know the sex of the recipients you are sending to?
By creating variables around what you know of your target audience helps you to be specific, targeted, highly personalised and provide content that is relevant to the recipient.
Think of your customers in highly segmented markets and offer them content that can be personalised. Within each group, tailor campaigns to specific buyers that you’ve identified i.e. frequent purchasers, male versus female, seasonal or non seasonal.
This level of personalisation will not go unnoticed.
Engage your customers on your website
One of the main benefits of marketing is to drive your prospective clients to your website to buy. Customer surveys and onsite messaging are another way of building customer engagement.
Making your blog compatible with your brand tells a story, use a case study, site an illustration of where your products or solutions helped. It’s a great way to increase customer confidence to buy from you.
By personalising the content companies set themselves apart from the rest.
Social media is a great way to really get to know your audience by communicating your brand and messages you get your company culture and personality out there.
By answering questions, addressing concerns and comments shows interest and that you are prepared to get personal with them.
Content helps you connect with your potential customer
Plan it out
It is very difficult to keep track of what variable marketing campaigns you might be running so plan it out whatever form it takes.
It helps to stay focussed on the end game.
How many touch points do you intend to give your customers? Direct mail with QR code/PURL, email with PURL, follow up reminders both email and direct mail and so on.
What you do for email can also be applied to direct mail. Design not just one piece of variable direct marketing but several different types. Test your marketing messages, it might be a small change to the title of the mail piece or a change to some of the text.
One of the benefits of using variable data means you can try out different messages, offers, information and see what works.
Try it out on your audience of 2,000, if it’s successful and you can measure what worked best then roll it out to a larger audience.
Plan, analyse, measure and do it again
Now you’ve spent the time, money and resources coming up with your marketing messages, unless you can measure and set goals you wont be able to see if they were successful.
Set KPI’s at the start of each project and it shouldn’t just be about attracting another XX% of new customers make it more specific like how many emails were opened and acted on, how many direct mail pieces were sent and how many responses.
When you can measure it you can use this as the stepping stone to the next bigger campaign.
Catchy headline, great design
Finally using variable data is fab I love it. I love nothing more than to get a great email newsletter or direct mail piece that is highly personalised and relevant to what it is we do.
Sadly, these types of marketing communications are so rare, mostly they are boring and bear no relevance.
Worse still, is the lack of thought put into the design and headline of the marketing message.
How many times do you really see a catchy headline?
When you do, you have to open the email or tear open the envelope or rip the side of the mailer because the headline compels you to take action.
When all is said and done a great headline is often the first thing your audience will read so make it fun, relevant and interesting.
Personalising your brand makes it easier for your audience to connect.
Branding content to support your brand’s messages is key to getting personal with your audience.
Not only will variable content engage with your audience because you are talking with them not at them, but it shows your willingness to connect with them on a human level.
Last week’s post talked about what Digital Print Management do when it comes to delivering customer service.
Knowing your customers well not only helps you deliver a personalised customer service but ensures they get personalised communications suited to their needs.
Most organisations think they know who their customers are but do we?
Can everyone in your organisation define what your typical customer is, what do they look like? Where can you find them?
How does you audience vary according to the services or solutions you offer?
Which industry sectors do you work in and where have you had the most success?
Which industry is most receptive to your business?
Is your audience clearly defined by industry sector?
What other products and services are your customers likely to be interested in?
Studying your current customer profile should be a good indicator of the audience you successfully engage with but it will also help you target other companies or sectors that may want your services.
The key to understanding your customers is being able to understand the data you have about them. this in turn drives personalised communication.
One of the important things about managing your customers is segmenting your audience into specific products or services and seeing if a pattern emerges between the two.
Thereafter you can identify the audience that is most likely to be receptive to any future personalised communications by direct marketing campaigns keeping it targeting and specific.
By understanding and interpreting your existing customer data helps you identify the criteria on which your customers purchased your products and helps you define which prospects you can target in the future.
For B2B customers this could be region, industry type/sector, company size, contact types.
This is all well and groovy but how do you collect prospective customer data on your target market so you can define your content marketing specific to them?
Who is your audience? Where can you find them? What do they want?
Personal details are crucial for marketing success and brand growth but how do you get customers to share more information when privacy and security are uppermost and trust is prevalent in most buyers minds.
The more personal details we collect the better we can market our products and services and increase customer engagement with personalised communications.
Being able to market in a positive and meaningful way to your target customers builds up trust, expertise, knowledge and showcases your companies services and abilities.
How do we build up customer security and trust?
But how do we build up trust in an online world?
Unlike meeting someone face to face, building creditability in an online world takes time and determination. It is not about blasting out full on sales messages one after each other.
Here are five points to consider for building customer brand, loyalty and engaging your audience.
Showcase positive customer experiences
Hi-light case studies where your services have really helped one of your customers.
Digital Print Management used a case study of a big higher education institution who outsourced their payroll processing and printing. This case study was so effective it helped us pick up two large customers.
The customers were so reassured in conversations about our expertise and knowledge and we were able to back it up with good references, they were choose us as their main service provider.
This is a good example of a positive customer experience without a typical sales pitch.
Using effective marketing strategies reduces the worry over privacy and security but ultimately builds up trust.
Ensuring your content messages are consistent across all media channels builds up trust, loyalty and familiarity in your brand this in turn makes customers more willing to share information across the various channels.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The goal is not to business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe”. (Anon)
I wish I could lay claim to the above statement but I think whoever thought it up couldn’t have nailed it better.
Promote brand loyalty
Consumers are more willing to share personal data if they are loyal to a brand.
The more you promote your company beliefs, culture and its ethos the more you are likely to connect with a customers personal beliefs and principles at which point they have the confidence to share their personal details.
Your brand is representative of your company culture and what your company stands for and brand loyalty comes out of your audience getting to know, trust and respect your company culture and its beliefs.
Recommend new products, solutions and services
Customers know that by giving away information companies will showcase new products and services which customers are likely to be excited about because they know they will be the first to view or experience them.
This is where personalised print marketing used in conjunction with cross channel marketing can be a highly effective way of moving the customer’s buying decision along. A highly personalised mailer with discounted vouchers or coupons is a great way to get customers involved.
Free postage, 10% off the next order, vouchers and limited time offers free downloads are great ways to get customers to give over their information.
Customers realise they are getting something for free by giving over their data willingly.
Provide location specific offers
Amazon local is a great example of location offers. They send you an email containing various offers at discounted rates on goods and services in relation to where you live and according to some of your recent purchases.
The increasing use of smartphones and mobile devices makes location based offers even more relevant for targeting your audience and persuading them to give personal details based on where they are or live in return for an offer.
The end goal is to connect with your customers on an emotional level so they are confident to give you the information you need to personalise your marketing content to suit your potential buying audience, which then enables you to start the sales cycle.
At some point in our business lives we will have to deal with complaints from customers.
How we respond differentiates us from the competition and ensures that our reputation remains in tact.
It also is a great way to test out your process for managing customer issues and ensures that the necessary procedures are in place.
This means they are tested and evaluated to see if they worked or failed and then changed, if necessary and reinforced.
The way we manage customer issues can and does have a huge impact on customer retention and acquisition.
Research has shown that on average an unhappy customer tells ten people about their experience, these ten people then tell a further five.
A total of 50 people will hear about a single bad experience they’ve had with you whether it’s service, company or a person they’ve dealt with.
Factor in social media and the internet and this figure can rocket skywards.
There are more ways to communicate with customers – email, mobile, internet and social media making a customer issue or complaint global.
A customer complaint usually heralds an anxiety attack, the hands sweat and the mind slips into child like psychology ‘what have I/we done wrong now’ and it can often result in it being costly to resolve, time consuming or worse, more trouble.
I admit that the challenge of resolving a customer problem whether it is of their making or ours causes knee shakes but at the same time, I relish working with the customer to find out why and how it happened and implementing a more improved fail-safe procedure to minimise the likelihood of it happening again.
Last week, Digital Print Management’s customer complaint procedure was tested.
Why would I want to share the fact that we made an error?
Simple. We make errors, mistakes, call them what you like, they do happen and the key to success is how you put them right making the customer feel important and secure. It also demonstrates how committed you are in resolving the problem for the customer.
The success of resolving a customer service problem strengthens the relationship between provider and customer deepening loyalty and commitment.
Here are DPMs 10 top tips to give great customer service.
1. Customer service is instilled in ‘all of us’ not just down to one individual whose sole responsibility it is to sort out customer problems.
Customer service should never be departmentalised what it should be is common practice for all employees who are made accountable to ensure the customer has a great experience working or buying from you.
Whatever the role in the company from Managing Director, sales to admin clerks, we are all ‘in customer service.’ We are in business to provide great customer service and satisfaction.
As a print management and outsourcing consultancy Digital Print Management work in partnership with various suppliers and vendors, we work together not individually.
If there is a problem it is ‘our’ problem not yours or mine. If DPM loses a client we all lose a client. Everyone owns the ‘problem’ until it is resolved.
2. Apologise – Yes I said say ‘sorry.’
It is not an admission of guilt or liability. By apologising for what has happened or for any inconvenience caused is telling the customer that you acknowledge the problem and that you intend to resolve it.
Owning up to a mistake immediately takes the wind out of someone’s sails and allows you to work with the customer to resolve the problem.
There are times when it is the customers mistake and you can demonstrate why it happened but by investing in goodwill and even replacing or offering the service at a reduced rate or free of charge makes the customer feel valued and upholds your reputation.
The freedom of the internet means that customers can comment without saying it to your face.
3. Keep your promises – if I say I’ll get back to the customer by 4PM I do. There may not be any additional information I can offer for the reason the problem occurred but by communicating with the customer they know you are taking their issue seriously.
4. Don’t lie – never short route the process. You may think it is better to hold back important information but at some point it will end up by biting you. Tell the truth, as you understand it, what has been found during your investigation and report back. By keeping the information brief and not overly technical will help the customer understand the reason(s) behind the problem.
5. Treat people as you would expect to be treated – when faced with a customer complaint from the outset I try to put myself in the customer’s shoes.
What does this problem mean for them, who do they have to report to, will they be reprimanded by their boss, how far up the chain will the issue go?
6. Maintain a professional manner – don’t joke with the customer about the problem or make it seem trivial. A handful of incorrectly printed documents or downtime in your service may seem trivial and insignificant but for the customer you’ve just created a big headache.
7. Listen up – When we get presented with a problem talking through the customer as though it’s not a real problem and assuming you know what the causes are only serves to ‘up’ the issue.
By listening and understanding what the customer is saying helps identify where the fault occurred and ensures we don’t fall into the trap of guessing.
By focusing less on what went wrong and more on fixing the problem makes it less of an issue for the customer.
The customer isn’t always right and if you can prove that this is the case don’t be confrontational. Understand their issues only then offer your viewpoint. You may have to agree to disagree but always ask ‘how can I make this better for you, tell me what you need me to do so you are left feeling a happy customer?’
8. Never promise what you can’t deliver – I couldn’t get back to my customer by the close of business with the details of why the problem happened but during the call I promised I’d call him back the next day with an update.
9. It’s about the customer not sales – I hate the word sales, or selling probably because I’m not very good at it. I prefer to work at keeping the customers business, minimising potential complaints or problems, rather than seeing them as £ signs.
10. Make sure you have a customer complaints management system and communications process in place so complaints don’t happen. Good communication management is key to long-term customer retention.
There you have our 10 commandments for great customer service.
As for the customer issue we had last week well:-
The contract has been extended for a further 2 years
We were thanked for our follow up and quick response with calls, emails and information.
Attention to detail meant that our investigation resulted in no stone was left unturned and the client thanked us for making a big problem appear small.
The customers problem and subsequent resolution has resulted in a revised process being updated this will now follow through to other clients who will benefit. This made the customer feel he had contributed greatly to resolving the problem in collaboration with DPM.
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