Politics Aside, At Least Folks Are Focused on the USPS – Let’s Keep It Up

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a vital institution in our economy, democracy, and history – and future. It provides for confidential communication in a timely and affordable manner, paid for entirely by ratepayers rather than taxpayers. And, while we were on summer vacation, the ugly state of today’s politics brought it to the top of the news cycle.

Well, maybe that’s a good thing.

The U.S. mail stream also is a vehicle for millions of properly cast votes during primary and general elections, a process that even President Trump’s campaign knows is true, and in the frenzy of this moment, that reality must be promoted and protected. And although the 2020 U.S. Census is primarily an online event this year, mail notices have gone to all residential addresses to drive populations to the counting website. Earlier this month, the Census reported that self-reporting has accounted for an estimated 63.3% of all U.S. households thus far – so now field operations are underway to count the rest before Sept. 30.

As citizens, being counted in the Census ranks up there with voting and serving on juries. As non-citizens seeking citizenship, being counted may be the only voice one has at all. Many of us in direct and data marketing know how crucial, too, Census commercial products are to business. For all the billions spent on targeted advertising, and billions more on general advertising, understanding Census statistical areas provides valuable insights and informs strategies.

All of this only underscores the role USPS has in executing all of this. If dirty politics is what it takes to call attention to USPS operations and “fix” what needs fixing at the Postal Service, then so be it. Floating loan guarantees is a crucial start, in my humble opinion. A reinvigorated attempt during the next Congress at a postal reform bill might help, too, to soften the blow from the 2006 law – with its outrageous healthcare pre-funding mandates, for one.

It’s wrong to summarily dismiss the Postmaster General or his intentions. If his goal is to increase USPS efficiencies, then all parties can rally around that objective – as long as service levels are maintained. Privatization, however, is likely a non-starter, and may even require Constitutional changes. If the goal – as some critics maintain – is to throw an election, let’s uncover the truth of it. In the least, many states have been conducting elections by mail for years with integrity – which the Secretary of State in Oregon, a Republican, maintains. At least, the Postmaster General has halted mail processing cuts, with his stated goal of long-term sustainability, until after the November election.

Direct Mail – With Integrity

So what does all this mean to direct mailers? I love John Miglautsch’s message: “Direct mail ain’t dead.” Miglautsch says too many marketers are still prone to “digital delusional” thinking that digital can replace direct mail altogether. (Please, folks, test first – you’ll see the mail moment is real.) The Winterberry Group in January predicted a small uptick in direct mail spending in 2020 to $41.6 billion, but reported in June a Q2 drop in USPS mail volume of 33%. It’s clear that at least temporarily, marketers slashed direct mail budgets much more than their digital counterparts.

Yet direct mail has supreme advantages: It’s personalized, and free from identity challenges that still exist in digital. (See the latest Winterberry Research on data spending on digital identity management.) It’s secure and confidential. Direct mail also is a direct relationship – there are no intermediary infrastructures where audience, measurement, and attribution data can be unavailable to the advertiser. In many, many ways, direct marketers hope for an addressable digital media future that matches the offline addressable direct mail realities of today. We’re making progress in addressable media across all channels, but we’re not there yet.

From a direct mail perspective, perhaps the best contribution of digital is that (1) it has taught more U.S. households to shop direct; and (2) it has lessened competition in the mailbox. The two media work in tandem powerfully. Less clutter in the physical mail box opens the opportunity for increased response. All this assumes, however, that direct mail delivery can be predicted in-home reliably. That’s why we cannot monkey around with USPS service standards.

So fill out your Census form, if you haven’t already. Vote in the November election. And make sure USPS (and direct mail advertising) is getting the attention – and protection – commensurate to its powerful contribution to our nation.

4 Mistakes Multichannel Marketers Make and Lose Customers

Most businesses today understand the importance of multichannel marketing. They invest in SEO, PPC, social media, and even trade shows and conferences. However, if your hard-fought marketing budget is not able to increase your customer base or pool of prospects consistently, then you can be sure your funnel has developed a few holes in the wrong places.

Most businesses today understand the importance of multichannel marketing. They invest in SEO, PPC, social media, and even trade shows and conferences. However, if your hard-fought marketing budget is not able to increase your customer base or pool of prospects consistently, then you can be sure your funnel has developed a few holes in the wrong places.

Unfortunately, both B2B and B2C businesses are guilty of making sales-killing mistakes again and again; oftentimes, putting off customers without realizing it. These simple blunders could cost your business big-time, hurting growth opportunities and diminishing returns from existing customers.

Here are four pitfalls you should be wary of while implementing an integrated, omnichannel marketing strategy, so that you don’t lose any targeting opportunities. All of these tips apply to the technology, methods, and tactics that are currently used by entrepreneurs, companies, and marketers, cutting across industries and geographies.

Preferring Safe Over Sorry

Taking risks is a big part of running a business, and something that many entrepreneurs are used to. However, once they start experiencing success and growth, many begin to shy away from taking chances.

In the long run, many business owners admit that playing it safe was one of their biggest mistakes. In terms of marketing and sales, going the safe route can actually hurt your brand. Why? Because it is simply boring.

According to a study by Adobe, 54% of marketing experts know that they should be taking more risks, and an alarming 82% of companies believe that they need to reinvent their branding in order to succeed. Remember, your customers’ needs and mindsets are constantly changing. If you rely on the same tactics, the same advertisements, and the same marketing messages, people will eventually get bored and your results will diminish.

multichannel graphic
Credit: Adobe on SlideShare.com

Reassess the methods and tools you use for audience analysis, and take a look at how the demographics have shifted over the years. Compare your past results with your current numbers to see if there are any noticeable differences. It may be time to take some risks, try something new, and see what happens.

Relying on Imperfect Bots

Saving on customer support by passing on the majority of your customer service workload to an automated chatbot system sounds like a dream come true. If used correctly, these bots answer customer inquiries, resolve issues, and even make sales. This is why the AI-powered chatbot has exploded in recent years, with 15% of consumers reporting that they have used one to communicate with businesses over the past year, according to Drift’s 2018 “State of Chatbots” report. (Opens as a PDF)

However, just because this customer service channel may be working for some businesses, it does not mean that it is a one-size-fits-all solution. When creating a chatbot, the overarching goal is to solve the cognitive puzzle that fills in the gaps between a bot conversation and a human conversation. When a conversation is initiated, in any capacity, there is an exchange of data that sheds light on emotional engagement between the two parties. Take away the emotional exchange, and empathy is unachievable.

Programming an online bot to handle all sorts of customer queries and interpret exactly what someone is looking for does require a bit of technical knowledge and understanding, despite what off-the-shelf chatbot sellers will have you believe. A poorly programmed chatbot could easily result in lost revenue.

Just one bad or frustrating experience with a chatbot will likely push away 73% of customers forever. If a bot is simply not answering their question or simply offering irrelevant information, then it is doing your business far more harm than good.

multichannel chatbot
Credit: SherpaDesk.com

In order to determine whether or not your chatbots could use some help, take a look at some important metrics. Has your sales cycle lengthened? Are fewer leads moving down the buyer’s funnel? Are you facing an increase in helpdesk escalations, despite an improvement in response times? An effective sales bot should be boosting conversions — or at least micro-conversions — so if numbers are shrinking, that’s a definite red flag.

You can also try adding a short satisfaction survey at the end of each chatbot conversation to gather some customer feedback and help identify any weak points that are killing the customer experience.

Ignoring the Micro-Influencer

It seems like everyone and their grandmother is “leveraging” influencer marketing these days, trying to reach the promised (read, purported) 11-times ROI of other digital marketing methods. It is easy to get blinded by the numbers; especially in terms of “reach” and “engagement.” Just because an influencer has a huge following doesn’t necessarily mean that their promotion will help your business.

Micro-influencers (accounts with 100,000 followers or fewer) actually perform better, in terms of audience engagement and actual “influence” — purchase rates. In fact, these smaller accounts generate over six times more engagement than influencers with massive followings. Customers are also more likely to buy a product that is recommended by a micro-influencer than they are to purchase something recommended by a person they know. Additionally, the cost per lead and cost per acquisition is lower than paid ads and regular influencer marketing.

multichannel chart
Credit: Mavrck.com

If your brand has dabbled with big-name influencers in the past, it may be time to consider a partnership with a micro-influencer to reach more relevant audiences. Because these accounts have smaller followings, they tend to be niche-focused, meaning that their content is highly pertinent to their audience’s needs and interests.

Obsessing Over Any One Stage of the Sales Funnel

Marketers love to talk about the importance of the sales funnel and creating marketing plans designed to “nudge” customers through it. While the sales funnel is definitely a great blueprint to guide your strategies, getting caught up in any one phase could spell disaster for conversions.

Remember, every visitor, prospect, lead, or target must go through several steps, go back, forward, and run around in circles before they become a full-fledged customer. They must be introduced to your brand during the awareness stage, learn more about your business and products during the interaction phase, get interested and place their trust in you, and ultimately make and stick to a decision to buy from you.

However, many marketing teams tend to forget this trajectory and get caught up in either building brand awareness so potential customers grow bored, or spend too much time promoting sales jargon that people totally disengage, due to advertising fatigue. If your customers are unfamiliar with your business (thanks to a lack of top-of-the-funnel marketing), the pressure to “Buy Now” will be ineffective.

Keep in mind, it might take up to 13 interactions with a brand before a lead can even be classified as a sales-qualified lead (SQL). Focusing on any one section of the sales journey can narrow the funnel significantly, meaning that fewer people flow through.

Focus a good chunk of your efforts on educating and raising brand awareness. Once people start tuning in, give them more specific information about your content and everything you offer. As you gain serious interest, then it’s time to start talking about price points, deals, and how potential customers can take proper action.

Most importantly, you need to place emphasis on the transitions between stages. They need to be smooth and organic if you want your sales funnel to function properly.

Fix Your Strategy, Fix Your Sales

Selling is an art form that no one has truly perfected. There are so many ins and outs, little details, and psychological factors that play into it — making it a deeply complex and ever-evolving practice. Online sales add another layer of complication by removing that up-close and personal factor. However, once you’ve plugged the leaks in your sales funnel, you’ll see a larger number of customers coming in and coming back. Good luck!

In My Mailbox & Yours | An Artful Invite to a Special Evening

It’s my favorite mail piece this year — and it didn’t even include a check.

direct mail
Credit: Chet Dalzell

It’s my favorite mail piece this year — and it didn’t even include a check.

But it did include an invitation for payment. You may have received it, too.

Late next week (Nov. 16), 300-plus marketers will gather in New York for the 2017 Annual Gala Evening, the presentation of the 33rd Annual Silver Apples Awards. There, we pay homage to marketing leaders who have given 25 years (at least) of distinguished service to our field.

[This year’s Silver Apple honorees are Fran Green, ALC; John Princiotta, PCH; Eva Reda, American Express; Randall Rothenberg, IAB; Jay Schwedelson, Worldata; Rita Shankewitz, Bottom Line, Inc.; Corporate Honoree BMI Global OMS; and special Golden Apple Honoree Stu Boysen, Direct Marketing Club of New York (DMCNY).]

It is a fete. It is New York’s data, digital and direct marketing’s annual night out. You even see a national audience there.

But what I want to talk about is the marketing effort for the event this year. Each honoree is remarkable in his or her own way, which is why I really appreciated this year’s marketing campaign executed by DMCNY volunteers and partners.

Since on or about Labor Day, I — and a few thousand others like me — received a customary “Save the Date” email and the news announcement of the winners, first announced collectively. [Disclosure: I prepped the news release.]

But this year, we were introduced individually to each of the honorees, in a short email every 10 or so days, which gave a little bit of biographical color — personal and professional — on each honoree. The single honoree-focused digital effort culminated in a colorful direct mail invitation with a reply card and envelope, and a protected film envelope, which had each photo of the honorees in a frame. The backside of each framed photo included their career highlights.

The art is outstanding — somewhat reminiscent of Pollock or Calder — which I can appreciate as we celebrate somewhere between MOMA and the Whitney (Edison Ballroom, to be exact).

I often think about when is the right moment for print, a moment for mail, amid our increasingly social-digital-mobile lives. Physically receiving, opening and touching an invite still feels special to me, and I do think it elevates the “weight” of the honor we will be celebrating, and the important contributions these professionals make. While the gala itself will serve as the climax, I did find the mail moment here to be an exciting precursor — and well-timed, following the wave of individual honoree-focused emails, and just ahead of the last-minute digital reminders and follow-ups. Not every creative element was new in concept, but they were certainly fresh in concert.

Well done, DMCNY. As a past honoree, I am blessed to be able to say “thank you.” As I think about the upcoming week, I can say we’ve raised the curtain to this year’s honorees with elán and spirit — one I’m hopeful carries through the experience of the event.

See you next Thursday in New York.

[Credits for the DMCNY Silver Apples marketing effort go to several folks, including: Invitation & Program Cover Design: Robert Snow of Robert Snow Marketing Communications; Invitation Printing and Mailing & Program Book Printing: McVicker & Higginbotham; Program Booklet Design: Cheryl Biswurm, Turner Direct LLC; Email Design and Execution: Briana Kovar and Carolyn Lagermasini, Association & Conference Group; as well as an entire Silver Apples Planning Committeeso you’ll need to be there presently to give them all kudos.]

Total Marketing: 3 Things You Must Understand About Omnichannel Today

Marketing today happens through a lot of different devices and channels, most of which marketers understand pretty well. But as the channels multiply and merge quicker and quicker, understanding the integrated marketing environment is less about putting the channels together than seeing them as one omnichannel whole. To succeed in that omnichannel, total marketing environment, there are three things all marketers must understand.

omnichannel, integrated marketingMarketing today happens through a lot of different devices and channels, most of which marketers understand pretty well. But as the channels multiply and merge quicker and quicker, understanding the integrated marketing environment is less about putting the channels together than seeing them as one omnichannel whole.

To succeed in that omnichannel, total marketing environment, there are three things all marketers must understand.

1. It Defies Channel Boundaries

Most marketers understand that different channels drive different kinds of customers and different sales. What’s different is — thanks to changing device technology and the emerging world of IoT — channels are morphing all the time without warning.

A great example is the emerging world of voice search. Phones have supported voice search for years, but only recently have people started using it in earnest. In fact, adoption only really picked up steam with the rise of keyboardless devices like wearables and smart speakers.

This trend shows no signs of stopping. ComScore estimates that 50 percent of search will be done via voice by 2020. According to Udayan Bose, founder of NetElixir, there are 10 million voice-first devices being developed today.

That means voice is going to continue to reshape how people search, skewing algorithms toward the simpler search strings used in voice search and shifting SEO away from a text-based interfaces to voice-based ones.

That kind of shift is happening all over marketing, and will keep happening at an accelerated rate. Our sister publication Dealerscope covers the consumer electronics industry, and they’ve already begun speculating about a future where augmented reality is the primary platform people use to interface with the digital world.

2. It’s People-Focused, Not Conversion-focused

You’re starting to hear the buzzword people-based marketing — for example, Seth Garske wrote about people-based marketing in yesterday’s blog post — but this really predates that buzzword. In fact, people-based marketing, account-based marketing, personalization and AI are all moving in the same direction: Toward marketing that recognizes, respects and speaks directly to the individuals it is being sent to.

This is easiest to show in account-based marketing, which uses high-quality data and automation to send different marketing content to the right individuals within the target company. Yes, you do that to get to a conversion, but the activity focuses first on identifying with the individual recipients. It recognizes that understanding, even empathy, will lead to conversions.

Tomorrow, you can hear John Miller, one of the thought leaders on this marketing strategy, talk about the secret sauce for doing account-based marketing successfully.

3. It Takes a Total Marketing Team

Finally, as channels are being dissolved and people become the focus, executing omnichannel marketing is becoming very technically hard. It takes a total marketing team with many skills that have been underappreciated until now. 

Building that team takes a focus on marketing management and operations. The people who can make a lot of different things happen without degenerating into chaos become key swing players, like point guards in basketball who make the scoring happen. Having the right players around them is no different than assmebling a great basketball team (or football, if you’ve got that kind of budget).

All About Integrated Marketing

There’s one place you can learn about all of those topics and more, and it’s happening tomorrow: The All About Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference.

The show has sessions speaking about all of these topics and more! If total marketing is where you’re headed, click here to register today.

What You Need to Know About USPS Informed Delivery

You probably don’t like spoilers for movies, but what about your direct mail?

The U.S. Postal Service has rolled out a new tracking feature called Informed Delivery in the last few months. And it has implications for how the customer, the mail service vendor, and marketing agencies operate in the mailstream.

You probably don’t like spoilers for movies, but how about for your direct mail?

The reason I’m asking is because the U.S. Postal Service has rolled out a new tracking feature called Informed Delivery in the last few months. And it has implications for how the customer, the mail service vendor, and marketers operate in the mailstream.

USPS LogoThe first time I heard of it was in September 2015, when I spoke at the National PCC Day event in New York.

In his remarks, USPS Chief Marketing Officer Jim Cochrane mentioned a service undergoing trials that would let people see their mail before it gets delivered.

I was intrigued, and still am, as Informed Delivery is being implemented this year.

I agree with Tom Glassman, Director of Data Services and Postal Affairs at Wilen Direct. He calls it “a great integration of digital and physical mail.”

So last week, I signed up for the program and waited to see what happened.

How It Works

Consumers can enroll online for a free, password-protected account that creates a digital mailbox for the direct mail they receive at their house. Before it’s even physically delivered, they can log in and see a grayscale image of the front of a common-sized mail piece, like a #10 envelope or folded self-mailer.

It’s not available yet for P.O. Box customers. And jumbo mailers, catalogs, and packages aren’t included in the mix at this time.

What Marketers Should Think About

So if you’re a marketer, you’re probably asking, “What’s in it for me?” What’s the ‘why’?” There are complex answers to these questions.

If this service were only about giving consumers a sneak preview of their mail, one more impression of an offer, well that’s not too bad.

But Informed Delivery is more than that.

Marketers can build campaigns using the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to reach target audiences in the digital and physical worlds simultaneously. Under the program, marketers can enhance a physical mail piece when it’s scanned into the mailstream with a representative full color image, interactive content, and a click-through URL, with individual URLs coming this fall.

I’m not going to get into all of the technical details about campaign management and how to set up Informed Delivery. That discussion needs a much deeper dive, so it can wait for another time and place.

And I fully expect USPS to change features based on feedback from industry users and the public.

But I do have some recommendations.

First, consider how your direct mail – or at least some of it – can stand out in a grayscale image. This means paying special attention to your images, teaser copy, etc., and testing all of them

Second, think about all how your mail or your client’s mail can be enhanced with an Informed Delivery campaign. So off the top of my head, I can see uses for retailers, transpromo, insurance, utilities, and financial services.

Finally, there are some great resources to consult for more information about why and how to implement Informed Delivery.

One other thing. Remember the words of the late Mal Decker: “Rule No. 1, test everything; Rule No. 2, see Rule No. 1.”

The One About the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE.

Join us at #IMV15 !We’ve dipped our toes into June, and lots of exciting things happening already. Election things, hockey things, Starbucks’s new cold brew vanilla coffee, lots of equally important and life-defining events. And since a good marketing coordinator never misses out on the opportunity to subtly self-promote (aka blatantly announce when she’s about to do so) I thought I’d add one more notable event to the June pool.

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE. Every time I think we can’t possibly have another huge name or more impressive content, I get a notification in my inbox that it’s time to update the site again. With eight live sessions, 10 on-demand sessions, more than 20 speakers (and counting!), this is the biggest and most comprehensive IMV to date.

Wanna join the party? Click here

The up-to-the-minute agenda is here, and it all looks incredible, but for today’s post I thought I’d just give a shoutout to a few sessions that might be of particular interest to the copy/creative-focused marketer.


Messages That Move: How Video Should Play In Your Marketing Mix and Content Strategy

Starts: 12:00 pm | Ends: 12:40 pm

Video killed the radio star, and now it’s back to dominate the internet. But what makes a video a successful cog in the marketing machine? Learn it all in this session, featuring Jon Mowat, the owner of Hurricane Media — the UK-based video production and content marketing agency taking the world by storm (ha HA!!!!!!).

Jon will address points like:

  • How to adopt a “video” mindset
  • Trends in how marketing videos are being watched
  • Types of video marketers are using, and how to make them
  • How to make use of video across channels

Get ready for your closeup.


Online Marketing Strategies That Work

Starts: 12:55 pm | Ends: 1:30 pm

Self-explanatory title? You bet it is. You do marketing? Check. Online marketing? Check. Want it to work?

I’m guessing … check?

For this session, we’ve got Anne Ahola Ward, CEO of CircleClick and O’Reilly Media Author, to share how to make the sale with Image-centric content marketing, simple and mobile-centric messages, diverse social media usage and retargeting.


The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media Company

Starts: 1:35 pm | Ends: 2:10 pm

You’ve probably heard of Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at Content Marketing Institute. He’s kind of a big deal. We’re thrilled to have him at IMV this year, presenting a session titled after a Lamb Chop song.

We all know how key good content marketing is in the current landscape. Successful, solid content marketing pieces can continue to grab attention, inform and inspire long after their premiere. Feel like your assets might be stuck in a spin cycle, losing value and getting those nasty little sweater pills with each re-use? Carve out a half hour and join Robert in this session. He’ll share a new approach to building a content marketing media asset that never goes stale.


AR for Marketers: How to Implement Augmented Reality into Your Marketing

Starts: 2:15 pm | Ends: 2:50 pm

Okay, even though I pretty much know what Augmented Reality is at this point, to me it still absolutely sounds like it belongs in the Doctor Who universe. Like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside because of Augmented Reality, no??

If you’re like me, or even better, if you’re not like me and actually have a handle on the reality of Augmented Reality, how it can pump up your print and direct mail marketing, this will be an engaging and worthwhile session. Cindy Walas, Principal of Walas Younger Ltd., is leading the charge to discuss the latest and greatest in the AR world, and all the “how-to’s” you need to know to create and launch a killer AR program.

I’m still banking on alien involvement.


There you have it, just four of the eighteen sessions that will be available to you at the show on June 23. Plus, for the first time, the virtual conference will feature several on-demand sessions spotlighting marketing issues and know-how in several specific industries like travel, media and entertainment, and healthcare.

The opening and closing keynotes feature superstars Jay Baer (President of Convince & Convert) and Dr. Jerry Wind (The Wharton School,) and word on the street is attendees to their sessions can win a copy of one of their best sellers.

And so friends, here is where I leave you The Link, and bid you adieu.

THE LINK. CLICK THE LINK. YOU DO LIKE THINGS THAT HELP YOUR MARKETING, RIGHT? OF COURSE YOU DO.

Hope I’ll see you on June 23 — say hi to me in the networking lounge or info booth!

Adieu!

Marketing in the Big World

Marketers are embracing the big question today: How do you map and influence the complete customer journey? That’s the whole trip, from creating interest in your category, to educating them on the space, becoming a brand they want to do business with, and finally to making a purchase.

The Big World
Marketing in the Big World means taking responsibility for each customer’s full Odyssey, not just dropping a Cyclops on them. Credit: NASA, Visible Earth.

For many years at Target Marketing, we took the approach that direct marketing is what happens when you send a targeted audience an offer, some of them take it, and you add that information into your house list to keep marketing to them in the future.

That’s not a simple process, and I don’t want to make it out to be. It reminds me of a master jeweler creating value by crafting the perfect cut of a gem.

But it’s a small world: Offer, list, capture data, analyze, new offer. Know your list. Love your list! Become an expert on helping it grow and finding ways to increase conversions and lifetime value through your chosen channels.

It’s the realm of a specialist measuring ROI to, as Denny Hatch likes to say, “The gnat’s eyebrow.”

And isn’t that exactly why direct marketing became it’s own tightly knit community? Because this highly profitable style of targeted, accountable marketing wasn’t welcome on Madison Avenue?

The thing is, marketing is about more than that today. It’s not that direct tactics are outdated by any means. In fact, I think direct marketing has become the most important part of all marketing. (And ask any agency if their clients don’t want return on investment measured to the gnat’s eyebrow.) But that also means it is a piece of ALL marketing today.

Nearly all marketing efforts are expected to drive a direct response, and grow the house database, and gather data on customers and potential customers that will be used to inform the next marketing campaigns.

That happens in the big brand campaigns now, just as much as it happens in niche direct marketing. And it happens across TV, mail, email, online ads, content marketing, social media, and more channels that I’m not even thinking of tonight.

Marketers are embracing the big question today: How do you map and influence the complete customer journey?

That’s the whole trip, from creating interest in your category, to educating them on the space, becoming a brand they want to do business with, and finally to making a purchase … And then continuing to nurture that trusted relationship, expanding their knowledge of your product category and related interests, and sparking ongoing sales, loyalty and evangelism.

That’s a Big World!

To market in the Big World, you need to be able to send a great offer to a targeted list (or custom audience, programmatically defined segment, etc) and measure ROI down to a gnat’s eyebrow. But you also need to be able to continuously interact with your audience — current customers, prospects, and the wider universe of interested parties who can become those — through social media, brand ads, content marketing and more.

Release the (itty bitty) Kraken!
Big things, small beginnings.

The Big World is a combined discipline of direct marketing, brand marketing, customer service and PR. And it’s often being done best by small teams that handle all of those things at once. Tentacles of the same kraken, even if it’s still just a baby kraken.

Small world direct marketing is Odysseus defeating the Cyclops. Then Odysseus sailing past the sirens. Then the next episode/campaign, etc. Each scene perfected and deployed.

The Big World is the whole Odyssey, being retold and retailored live for each person your brand wants as a customer to consciously create a journey that eventually leads to you.

Who in your company is in charge of that telling?

How well does your marketing capture the whole customer journey? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

A New Approach to Integrated Marketing

I had a great chat the other day with Elana Anderson, the former Forrester Research superstar analyst who has gone out on her own with her (relatively new) company, NxtERA Marketing. The company offers advisory and consulting services to marketing organizations and providers of marketing services and technology.

We were discussing a new study that her company worked on with marketing solutions provider Responsys.

I had a great chat the other day with Elana Anderson, the former Forrester Research superstar analyst who has gone out on her own with her (relatively new) company, NxtERA Marketing. The company offers advisory and consulting services to marketing organizations and providers of marketing services and technology.

We were discussing a new study that her company worked on with marketing solutions provider Responsys.

The main gist of the study–called Marketing Beyond the Status Quo–is that as customer response to broadcast messaging steadily declines and as the percentage of prospects and customers giving permission to market to them decreases, marketers must increase the relevance of their multichannel communications or risk falling short of revenue expectations from the C-suite.

“The data shows – and marketers generally agree – that brands have reached a point where they must invest more time and money in improving the relevance of their communications,” said Anderson.

The report also unveiled the MSQ Model to help marketers determine their relevance maturity and develop a realistic action plan to become a more customer-focused marketer.

The four-point MSQ Model assesses the four fundamental competencies required for marketing relevance: strategic (how customer-focused are your marketing efforts?), analytical (how strategic and actionable is your customer insight?), technical (how well-suited is your infrastructure to support customer-focused marketing?) and process (how collaborative, efficient and error-free is your marketing organization?).

Each competency is weighted and combined to yield an overall Relevance Maturity Score which defines a MSQ Level ranging from 1 (broadcast) to 5 (integrated). Marketers can use the model in conjunction with the MSQ Self-Test to pinpoint their MSQ Level as well as identify the steps they must take in order to successfully move to the next level.

Other key findings and strategies from the study include:
1. Response to one-size-fits-all messaging is declining steadily. The report found that one retailer increased revenues by 500 percent by dividing its e-mail list into four segments and customizing the message to each group. In addition, a comparison of aggregate response data from companies leveraging broadcast tactics versus those using a highly targeted approach showed that the latter delivered significant improvement in open rates, clickthrough rates and clicks per open.

2.Marketers who want to increase marketing relevance must think outside in – from the perspective of the customer. The first step to relevancy requires marketers to clearly define relevancy to include timely response to customer actions, cross channel integration and a programmatic approach, the study found. Marketers must then develop a realistic action plan based on their current relevancy competency as assessed by the MSQ Model and measure and test every step of their program improvements.

3. Without the right technologies, relevant marketing is impossible. Technologies that increase marketing relevance should be made for marketers, and include functionality for automation, collaboration and integration – with little or no IT expertise needed. The report identifies emerging software-as-service options are a boon for marketers looking for lower up-front investment costs, to reduce IT involvement and to decrease time to market.

To receive a full copy of the Marketing Beyond the Status Quo report, visit www.responsys.com/beyond.

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