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Guide to Online Marketing Management

Seek out a system or partner that can provide all three services—front-end, middleware, and back-end services.

By Frank Defino, Jr., vice president and managing director, Tukaiz

The Internet and mobile technologies are triggering an explosion in all types of messaging media. Marketers most likely have a clear understanding of the front end of creating and producing a campaign, such as customizing marketing materials to localizing POP/POS items and a host of other attention-getting capabilities available to us today. But then come a host of questions that are sure to be important to all marketers with a budget:

  •  How many of each of these materials is in inventory at any given time?
  •  Which customer ordered them, or which branch ordered the most of which version?
  •  Does the brand logo color appear exactly the same on door hangers as it does on a window cling?
  •  Was all the language in compliance on the pieces sent to different locations?
  •  Were materials shipped and delivered on time?
  •  Am I running low on inventory?
  •  What is all this really costing?
  •  And even more important, can I afford to wait until it’s too late to find out?

Tracking all of this in terms of consistent production quality and on-time delivery is critical because chaos is not something any business can afford anymore.

Because of this, Online Marketing Management (OMM) systems are evolving into much more than just ordering basic printed or marketing materials online. An effective OMM system today must be a complete software, production process, and back-end system, offering access to a comprehensive set of online services that track and record orders and events in the life cycle of your marketing materials. It involves putting an infrastructure in place with a partner that can provide an end-to-end solution for creation, ordering, production, and fulfillment—all accessible from a single platform. An effective system incorporates meticulous brand management procedures, as well as inventory tracking and 24/7 reporting capabilities. And the best news is that it can make operations at a large company much easier and more efficient, while helping a growing company reach the next level.

Consistency and Standards

A dedicated OMM system can even allow enterprises with distributors and end-users the ability to develop a core of consistent, relevant, targeted materials with variable text, imagery, or picture personalization, all pre-approved to meet corporate and/or other regulatory standards. This core of data then can be repurposed to create a variety of marketing materials online and on-demand so a company’s remote locations or distributors can execute their own localized and customized communications campaigns and drive traffic to their location. Brand colors, logos—even the creative or promotional offers—remain unchanged and cohesive, but the messaging can vary depending on a campaign in Seattle, handouts at a sales meeting in New York, or in-store point-of-purchase pieces at six different sites of a hardware chain in Chicago.

Additionally, if you are producing five different products on five different substrates, these dedicated systems allow all materials to live in the same environment to ensure that you receive total brand consistency from the time you click and place your order to the time it arrives at your destination.

For example, a major insurance corporation may want to provide its agents and distributors with product-customized, industry-specific cross-merchandising direct-mail pieces for selling its services in different states. Utilizing an OMM system, the insurance company can give its agents access to an easy-to-navigate Web portal that offers a suite of direct-mail templates that they can customize to each individual client. This solution helps the company reduce the amount of generic collateral produced, and allows agents to target effectively so they can respond to their customers with relevant information. It also ensures that corporate brand standards and offers are in observance.

Tracking and Reporting

The best of today’s advanced OMM systems go the extra mile, with the ability to track spending, usage, order status, and inventory levels from a user-friendly dashboard or back-end platform. The home office can easily check at any time who is ordering what product, in what volume, and at what cost, to calculate return on investment and document the success of a particular marketing approach or campaign. Materials can be produced on-demand and customized or they can be fulfilled from inventory.

Another significant piece of a robust OMM system for marketers is the ability to determine the success of each campaign, and with multi-channel marketing, this means the success of each medium and message. An effective OMM system provides both the on-demand production tools and the necessary data to analyze the effectiveness of creative and messaging, even in limited samplings at different times of the year, at varying locations, and with different customer bases. The information can be used as documentation to justify a broader campaign or marketing approach, or to reach out to new prospects with some assurance of success.

Fast Forward

Robust OMM systems are three-fold. There are the front-end services, the middleware (or actual production of materials), and finally the back-end services, such as reporting, measuring, and tracking. While it is possible to piece together an OMM system using out-of-the-box software and multiple suppliers, few applications cover all the bases, ensuring that all three processes (front, middle, and back) work together seamlessly to produce quality products. With out-of-the-box software and a pieced-together process, a business may find it is unhappy with the ordering system and underwhelmed by the look and feel of the process it must go through to get what it wants. And in other cases, a business may like the front end, go on the Web, and order what it needs, but end up with materials suffering from inferior quality, wrong price points, and after it initially was needed. This is because orders may be accepted at a single Website, but then the items were produced by different suppliers and vendors.

A business that successfully implements the right OMM system will discover more opportunities to maintain contact with its distributors, franchises, and ultimately its current client base, allowing it to expand into new markets. By streamlining operations, budgets go further and can be used more effectively by affordably testing multiple channels in varying combinations that exactly match messaging and promotions.

For the most consistent and accurate results, it’s best to seek out a system or partner that can provide all three services—front-end, middleware, and back-end services—and the scalability to develop an end-to-end system tailored to your business needs. This helps ensure that brand integrity, quality, and compliance standards, as well as budgets, are managed and met every time.

Frank Defino, Jr. is vice president and managing director of Tukaiz, a results-driven marketing communications service provider based in Franklin Park, IL. Tukaiz provides in-house consulting, creative, high-quality print production capabilities, as well as prepress, offset, digital, large format and banner printing, online marketing management, data development, Website development/hosting, multimedia solutions, finishing, mailing, and fulfillment services for a variety of industries and vertical markets. He can be reached at fdjr@tukaiz.com.