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Closing the Gap Between Your Business and Your Customers: How Transpromo Solutions Turn Static Documents into Customized Communications

Attracting and retaining customers has never been more important to a company’s bottom line and overall financial health, particularly in today’s challenging economic climate. Companies have spent a fortune on customer relationship management (CRM) implementations in an attempt to provide a better customer experience, but these systems are not able to automate the numerous customer touch points in a consistent manner -- one that’s capable of leveraging and protecting their brand and providing a truly unique and informed customer experience. It's a missed opportunity and one that organizations are desperate to resolve.

While they now understand the benefits of a technology platform that addresses these issues; they soon realize that the endeavor often involves a number of challenges including managing the many sources and formats of input such as enterprise data and content; and the many formats and channels of output. Organizations want a platform that allows their business users to publish relevant and highly personalized content, leverage their existing technology and employee skills, and manage all of their customer communications regardless of channel so they can avoid. involving their already over-worked Information Technology (IT) team.

Fundamentally, companies understand that in order to increase operational efficiencies they must minimize the time it takes their business managers - those that are developing the revenue generating programs in areas such as marketing, customer service, and fulfillment - to act upon these ideas and get them in play with its customers in a way that is meaningful and relevant. More specifically, they seek a solution that can addresses the particular needs of communication-intensive business units such as marketing, legal and call centers while enabling the delivery of customized messages across a multitude of channels in both high-volume and ad-hoc scenarios.

Customer’s expectations have grown to the point that they expect organizations to speak to them at “the audience of one” level and convey high quality communications at each and every touch-point. Companies like Amazon have excelled in personalizing the customer experience to the point that customers are now asking themselves, “If they can do it, why can’t you?”

Turning White Space into Green-Backs: How Transpromo Solutions Increase Profitability
Solutions such as dynamic enterprise publishing or transpromotional marketing are earning a seat at the table for many organizations as it enables them to reduce costs and to increase revenue-enhancing activities. These offerings center on interactive content and transactional output capabilities with proactive marketing. More specifically, it allows an organization to maximize document white space, manage and fully leverage multi-channel distribution, combine content from multiple sources while creating interactive two way communications. Many multinational companies are now looking to deliver personalized and customized customer communications a process known in the analyst community as “Transpromo”.

Forrester Research analyst Craig Le Clair defines transpromotional solutions as a growing segment that combines transactional and promotional content in order to leverage predictable and long-term customer communications. Put simply, transpromo documents place marketing messages (the more personalized the better) on transactional statements which makes it more likely a customer will see the promotions because roughly 95% of people open and look at their bills and statements. Considering most direct marketers strive for a 5% conversion rate from unsolicited mailings, communicating to customers on statements increases that number to an almost perfect 100% open rate –talk about effective marketing.

Customers are adopting transpromo solutions as a way to make static documents relevant, dynamic and in some instances to turn costly materials (i.e. bills, statements, etc.) into a revenue generating mechanism as organizations begin to “sell” whitespace to complimentary vendors or business partners (i.e. a car dealer selling space on a monthly car payment statement to a third party vendor such as an automobile insurance company or car security provider such as On-Star or Lojack). Driven by the opportunity to provide better up-sell and cross-sell initiatives, streamline operations, reduce errors and assure compliance, organizations are adopting transpromo solutions at an impressive rate. In fact, transpromo solutions are one of the few applications that are expected to be immune from the economic downturn and technology cut-backs that analysts are predicting for 2008.

Closing the Gap Between Your Business and Your Customer
As organizations look for ways to bolster their CRM and loyalty initiatives in an effort to generate as much revenue as possible from existing clients, many now recognize the need to bridge the gap between its employees and its customers. According to industry pundits, every 1% drop in operational costs will contribute an extra 1% to an organization’s over-all profitability. According to Melissa Webster, an IDC analyst and program vice president, Content and Digital Media Technologies, “Companies today are focused on engaging their customers in order to increase customer loyalty and the commitment to the brand. We are seeing a tremendous opportunity for companies to leverage a dynamic enterprise publishing platform to create an electronic conversation with the customer—essentially, to enable sophisticated mass-personalized customer interactions.”

Despite the recognized benefits of more effective 1to1 communications, the harsh reality is most business managers are separated from customers because of their inability to respond in a timely manner and because of process filters. For example, a marketing vice president may be responsible for creating the latest new product plan and for directing the content development, but they are expected to hand off the actual implementation to other support resources. Depending on workloads, support expertise, and the complexity of the enterprise’s infrastructure and business practices, getting new or changed business communications strategies and materials into play can face serious delays and multiple revisions and approval cycles.

Apart from constraining the enterprise’s ability to engage in a timely and relevant way, existing processes are responsible for non-revenue generating efforts—resulting in lowered productivity and increased costs. Instead of requiring business managers to hand off routine implementations to other team members, organizations are adopting enterprise-wide correspondence management environments that enable all lines of business users to directly create and launch personalized content while maintaining all necessary rules that govern its use such as approvals, roles and stylistic requirements. Leveraging correspondence management, company’s can simultaneously cut the time-to-market for new and revised customer communications, simplify the workflow process, and reduce the involvement of the IT staff. With more personalized, dynamic communications, enterprises can ensure that their document contributions -- from customer letters and statements to notices and claims forms - are accurate and current. Because content revisions take effect immediately, organizations can enhance customer communications while improving business processes which result in speeding time-to-market and reducing the risk of outdated or incorrect content.

Innovations in Content Creation, Design and Controls Reduce Operating Costs
New web-based design and document composition capabilities enable business managers to directly create and control dynamic enterprise publishing content. This hands-on environment eliminates the lag-time between idea and action by replacing the traditional development and production processes that use to require involvement from the information technology group or other departments. More specifically, content from multiple systems can now automatically feed multiple streams of data to create a single, unified document while authorized updates can immediately come into play.

In a January 2008 report entitled, “The Future of Content Applications Revisited: A Survey of Market Readiness and Technology Trends” (Doc# 210145) IDC warned that the vast majority of the information that enterprises must manage today is "unstructured" — or textual information and rich media content that doesn't fit neatly into the rows and columns of a relational database management system. Organizations need to leverage this information to automate business processes, but to do this the content itself must be prepared and managed in such a way that it is intelligible to a computerized process.

The convergence of content creation, model creation, document definition, and document design takes full, flexible advantage of the varied knowledge and expertise that typically exists within the enterprise. It enables the corporate legal team, for example, to create and control the necessary language defining the enterprise’s commitments or responsibilities; the marketing department to define and present new promotional offerings; the manufacturing division to develop instructions or shipping directions, etc.

"Users need to assess how their current business processes — both collaborative, and transactional — can be better automated through the more effective use of unstructured information," said Melissa Webster, IDC. "Business processes that include multiple transformations in and out of paper form, or that require information workers to manually assemble information from multiple sources and manipulate it to support decision-making, are areas where organizations can reap a good return on their investment in content applications."
Separately, a Web-based, design environment enables content designers to create master document templates that can be leveraged throughout the production cycle. The design environment reflects the familiar conventions used by popular, general design programs and can dovetail into the enterprise’s existing infrastructures—creating little to no change to existing systems, applications, and business processes.

Creating Better Relationships – One Communication at a Time
While every company understands the need to manage its own customer-related content, each company also needs to take into consideration its unique set of circumstances, infrastructures, and organizational considerations. The best way to maximize the benefits from a correspondence management or transpromo solution is to identify the right capabilities and configurations based on how developed an organization’s current infrastructure and processes are now and where they’d like their future channels and output devices to be in the future.

The true power and ultimate value of transpromo is its ability to integrate and manage communications across all channels to generate a unified and meaningful customer experience that meets regulation requirements. By creating a consolidated enterprise strategy that supports reusable content, organizations can achieve a meaningful customer relationship that translates into long term loyally and improved profitability across the enterprise. While streamlined processes and simplified support and infrastructure reduce operational costs, faster time to market, quicker response to changing conditions, and finer control of customer communications all increase revenue opportunities. Not a bad conversion rate considering today’s economy.

About the Author
Mr. Dennis Ladd is CEO of StreamServe, a global leader in dynamic document composition, management and delivery solutions. For more information, contact the author at dennis.ladd@streamserve.com or visit
www.streamserve.com.

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