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The Importance of Multi-Channel Marketing

The Internet introduced new channels for marketing and created new consumer behaviors. To be most effective, marketers need to reach customers via print, Web, and e-mail. By tying them all together in an integrated campaign, marketers have the ability to collect more customer data for use in the next stage, track responses with personalized URLs (pURLs), and learn which media is most likely to get a response from each contact for more successful and cost-effective follow-ups.

The integrated marketing campaign starts with mail. It could be a printed direct mail piece or it could be an e-mail. The document needs to be designed to attract attention. If it is strictly being sent electronically, designers need to ensure that it can be opened by the individual’s browser. Unique sizes for printed pieces and appealing color are important, but the most critical aspect of any direct mail campaign is the actual offer to drive the recipient to the next step. This is typically a link to a personalized URL. The campaign’s Mail File (list of direct mail recipients) is used to generate personalized URLs for each recipient. These pURLs are then woven within the direct mail piece, along with other variable data.

Figure: Integrated Marketing System – Web & Direct Mail 
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When the recipients type their pURLs into a browser, they arrive on personalized Web pages (landing pages or VIP pages) populated with copies, images, and offers also based on customer data. These are frequently termed microsites. pURL Web pages can be as simple or advanced as the needs of a marketing program dictate. From there, the measurement and reporting of results begins.
Once an individual has linked into the personalized URL, creative marketers want to gather additional data about the prospect. The offer strategy should be designed to entice the respondent to complete a brief survey or provide data relative to interests and needs. The objective is to ensure a high level of interaction with the prospect.

Systems available in the market today include built-in tracking to enable continuous monitoring of the campaign’s progress as customers enter their personalized pages and provide additional relevant information. Campaign response rates, visitor response patterns, and detailed lead information can be available 24×7 as the campaign unfolds. Because systems are template-driven, adjustments to messaging and offers can be done in a matter of hours versus days. This enables marketers to make changes in the campaign in near-real-time based on the results they are seeing. Toolsets also have the ability to generate powerful reports so marketing executives can share the impact of critical marketing programs with the entire management team.

This kind of response tracking service can turn a print provider into a marketing partner who can accurately pinpoint the effectiveness of a campaign and understand how to best target campaign resources and improve returns on the marketing investment.

Based on the responses to survey questions, systems are designed to proactively forward leads to sales staff. Systems can route leads to the appropriate representatives via multiple communications platforms, including CRM (such as SalesForce.com), e-mail, cell phones, and pagers.

While direct marketers are not leveraging multi-channel capability as extensively as they could today, there is clearly strong strategic intent. Over the next several months, we will start to see creative marketers consistently delivering messages across multiple media channels, and paper and Internet communications will be coordinated. InfoTrends’ research found that nearly 19% of communications had no coordination in 2006, but this percentage will drop to 13% by 2008. Meanwhile, 17% of respondents reported that all their direct marketing efforts made use of both delivery mechanisms in 2006, but this percentage will rise to 19% by 2008. InfoTrends’ research has shown that Internet-based communications have increased significantly year-over-year, and this trend is projected to continue moving forward.

Figure: Percentage of Direct Marketing Campaigns that Consist of Traditional and Web Marketing, 2006 and 2008
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Despite a strong and continued need for paper, InfoTrends’ research has determined that print buyers as well as document owners plan to buy more via the Web as time goes on. In an August 2006 study of vertical markets in the United States, InfoTrends found that 11.6% of document owners’ spending and 10.8% of print buyers’ spending was conducted via the Web. Print buyers and document owners alike expect these percentages to increase. Document owners expected this percentage to reach 13.4% in 2008, while print buyers expected this percentage to reach 12.7%. This underlines the importance of Web-enabled print services.

Figure: Print Spending Via the Internet Today and in Two Years

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