One-time classmates Beth and Kellen Becker celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary earlier this month. The two originally had been introduced 30 years ago at Lake Forest College, when they were undergraduates at the small, liberal arts institution (enrollment: 1,500) spread out spaciously on...
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The focus, however, should probe deeper, making their data more useful – “adding value,” according to Foley. He cited the hypothetical example of a customer who has birth dates as part of its list. “A savvy PSP can ‘weigh’ that data by changing birth dates into an age category,” Foley explained. “If the 18-24 age group is their target market, the net value of that category may be only 15 percent,” which can affect perceived direct-mail response rates. The bottom line is that the customer may need more data, he pointed out. “You can save customers a ton of money by using analytics, but you need someone on staff who understands data management, analysis, and manipulation. And it’s not your prepress guy!”
Forrest Leighton, VP of strategic alliances at PTI Marketing Technologies, agreed. “It’s not a prepress guy, nor is it a designer, particularly for larger volume lists,” said Leighton, who left his marketing post at Canon USA a year ago to join PTI. “Our customer mix is all over the map, from [Microsoft] Excel to SQL databases and XML. Larger lists require a more advanced approach to handling data,” he added. “Print firms need someone [inside] who can navigate and give road maps to customers. This dedicated person may be a called a ‘project manager’ or a ‘VDP designer.’ He or she doesn’t have to be a programmer, but they need that mentality.”
His PTI colleague Dustin Ritter, marketing VP, shared an example of a customer who wanted to produce a piece with variables based on percentages. The first variable was a supplied Excel spreadsheet containing predetermined codes that were randomly generated. The second piece of variable data was one of 10 offers ($1, $2, $5, $10, etc). The customer let the PSP know what percentage of a particular offer they wanted printed (e.g., 50 percent of $1, 25 percent of $2, etc.). The print provider randomly assigned the offers based on the applicable percentage to the predetermined codes on the spreadsheet using the RAND() command in Excel and PTI’s FusionPro Desktop 7.2 software.
More complex VDP applications may feature different calls to action, Ritter continued. “One method of B2B customer engagement is to ask them to download a white paper. This can be the next step or resource to cement a deal.” Financial firms use varying loan rates as variable elements, he noted, while variable charts and graphs can serve to illustrate 401K retirement information.
“Maybe It’s Maybelline”
For Xerox and its customers, “an integrated system works best, where print and digital are blended” into a cross-media mix, contended Judy Berlin, worldwide marketing director for Xerox’s XMPie subsidiary. “Print [components] should not be separate from online. Print is outbound only. By adding elements like QR codes and microsites, ongoing conversations with customers are enabled,” Berlin said. Data for such endeavors can include demographics, social patterns, and purchasing behaviors.
One cross-media example is Maybelline New York, a subsidiary of French cosmetics company L'Oréal, which has taken integrated marketing a step further by blending a print component with social media touchpoints via Facebook. In the cosmetics business, consumers tend to use multiple brands for their range of makeup needs. Maybelline sought to leverage its No. 1 worldwide ranking in mascara to boost its business in categories where it had smaller shares, such as foundation products. But many consumers are unaware of technical considerations in makeup choices, such as how foundation products behave differently based on dry or oily skin types. The firm has improved customer loyalty with the help of Strategies Relationship Marketing of Quebec, Canada.
Strategies developed a “B2Me” campaign -- direct marketing that applies deep personalization and content marketing to create relevant messaging based on rational, emotional, physical, and relational characteristics. The campaign goals were to educate consumers about choosing and using cosmetics, and to recommend which Maybelline products best suit them, based upon their physical characteristics and makeup personality. The main component of the campaign is a series of three, full-color and fully personalized 20-page, 4.75 x7-inch booklets containing cosmetics lessons, personal product recommendations, and personalized, trackable discount coupons.
The ambitious undertaking required a great deal of unique data, a high degree of variability, and high-quality digital print production capability. So, the campaign began with mass and social media efforts to drive consumers to the Maybelline New York microsite where information about an individual’s ethnicity, hair and eye colors, eye shape, skin conditions, and other qualities was collected in a 12-part questionnaire. As a side effect, mailing addresses were captured, which essentially built the beginnings of a loyalty club for Maybelline New York.