By ERIC BOOTHE
With nearly 80 percent of U.S. households connected to the Internet, it’s no wonder that the ability to market through multiple channels has been a boon to every industry. Marketers are quickly expanding from cookie-cutter campaigns to more robust, personalized online campaigns as customers increasingly expect materials that are relevant to their interests. The key to succeeding in this personalized marketing world is to keep your efforts focused on your customer – meet them where they are – and effectively mix your efforts across all available media platforms, beginning the process of moving your customers from awareness to the coveted grail of loyalty.
Each year, millions of dollars are spent on the initial customer touch, whether it’s via direct mail, e-mail, environmental signage or other touch points. Where many go wrong is not having the ability to coordinate these messages across all media platforms. Additionally, many marketing pieces have no call to action or avenue to draw a prospect into an automated campaign of personalized marketing.
The impact of the initial touch
The key to successfully reaching customers requires organizing and coordinating your marketing efforts across all media to deliver your customers to the entry point of the program. This can be done several ways to ensure you are allowing the customer to respond to your query or product information in the way they are comfortable. With known prospects, the use of personalized URLs (PURLs) is a great way to go. PURLs utilize the customer’s name in the URL, for example www.johnsmith.freegift.org. Added to an email blast or direct mail campaign, the PURL can bring the potential customer to a landing page fully customized with information you have already collected, including their name, interests, etc.
Without even knowing it, the entry point into such a program is created, as many consumers immediately turn to the Internet and company websites to gain knowledge regarding a specific product or service after receiving a marketing piece. Today, websites make it easy for consumers to request additional product information with the availability of a simple form. By requesting enough information from the customer, future communication can be personalized. This is the first step toward improving your impact on prospective customers.
For those unknown prospects, one way to add an interactive option to environmental signage, brochures, or direct mail pieces is to include a 2D barcode. The use of smart phones has risen exponentially and many have access to software that decodes 2D barcodes. These seemingly strange squares made up of innumerable little black and white squares (actually up to 4,296 for QR Codes) which can be read by nearly any smart phone with a camera, can translate a large quantity of information to your customer. Inside these magical squares, a marketer can input a URL to take the prospect to a mobile website containing more information around a specific product as well as offer the customer a way to sign up to receive additional information. Phone numbers, email address, and numerous other pieces of information can be hidden in these useful blocks as well.
The real key to the initial touch is that it engages the customer, elicits to action, and results in participation in your larger multi-touch marketing program.
The importance of subsequent touches
Continued contact with the customer is the ultimate goal of any marketing program. Whether it is for additional information, registration for an upcoming conference, a coupon program, or patient compliance, having the ability to personalize each of the subsequent touches is essential. Once your customers have provided you with their information through the initial interaction, it will be important to show them you have taken the time (albeit automated time) to personalize each subsequent contact to their specific requests and needs.
Taking that next step can improve the response and, most importantly, the connection with the customer. The pharmaceutical industry offers great examples when it comes to coordinating multiple media campaigns. For instance, let’s look at one campaign that addressed a specific drug known to take several months to see an impact on the disease and subsequently showed a low patient compliance to remain on the treatment.
Utilizing the patient education web page, the brand team was able to personalize the information booklets that were sent to the requesting patients. This was done not only with their name, but also imagery around their specific disease state and around some basic demographics (i.e. male or female). From there they were able to assist compliance through a premium touch of a spiral bound calendar with disease state and product information on each month’s page. Additionally, during the initial touch they asked when the patient had begun treatment. From this information they included suggested refill, doctor visit, and testing reminders into the calendar for the patient, allowing for ease of use and an increase in compliance.
The road to engagement
When considering launching a customer-centric campaign, marketers should take several items into consideration, whether you do it in-house or choose a third-party partner. It is important to seek a solution that supports an end-to-end program—from print to email to fulfillment to reporting—all while ensuring regulatory compliance is met. Not only are savings maximized across the multiple touches and media outreach, but having the ability to automate the entire campaign process affords more time to be spent on building and enhancing customer relationships.
Having the opportunity to speak more directly to customers’ needs and wants has advanced through technology, and as the customer becomes savvier—expecting personalization in all their interactions—mass messaging will very soon become a thing of the past. Keeping your customer-centric campaigns focused and truly coordinated through the pre-planning and implementation process will open the door to greater customer loyalty and subsequent return on your marketing investments.
Eric Boothe is Director of Business Development, Life Sciences Division for EarthColor, which offers end-to-end, on-demand marketing solutions for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Eric can be reached at email@example.com.