Why you should be fans of the Marketing Rockstars

M_Rockstars Hall

The Marketing Rockstars Festival in Graz, Austria this month was not the kind of event that would normally grab the attention of Europe’s Print Service Providers. After all, it was designed firmly for the marketing industry; attracting nearly 2000 marketers from brands and agencies, tempted by the mix of superstar marketing speakers from, for example, Google, Starbucks and Adidas, and the 100 exhibitors with their marketing-oriented offerings.

So why should PSPs show an interest in an event like this, where the marketing community gathered to learn and talk about current marketing issues? Well, Ricoh was a key partner of the Marketing Rockstars Festival and it was very clear why this, and similar, events, are so relevant to the professional printing industry. It is, put simply, because it is at this type of forum where marketers collect information and insights, gain inspiration and ideas. Including on crucial questions such as how do I make my campaigns more successful, which channels should I be selecting, how do I integrate different channels effectively? Where does print fit in? And who can support me?

It is the marketing departments, advised by their agencies, that decide the shape of the marketing activities you will often be fulfilling in part at least through print. So the impact on the production printer of decision-making gatherings like this is profound.

Serving the needs of the marketing community

Ricoh’s stand was a busy one, as visitors explored how data can be cleansed and analysed, the process of consumer profiling and segmentation, the benefits of our Precision Marketing consultancy service and how Clickable Paper can bridge the printed page and the online realm. All in the interests of helping them achieve impressive returns on their marketing investments.

The fact that people could walk away with a personalised front cover of what was only the second issue of Forbes business magazine in Austria, complete with their own face on it, drew many marketing professionals to us. They saw at first hand how our marketing asset management and variable data solutions – MarcomCentral and FusionPro – work, and they benefitted from our expertise in harnessing data to create powerful, omni channel campaigns, with printed direct mail at their heart.

Exploiting the richness of data was also a major theme of Thomas Haas’ presentation. Our Precision Marketing Principal explained how the intelligent use of data can transform the impact of marketing campaigns, and how Ricoh can provide the expertise and solutions to help marketers make this happen. With direct mail often the hero channel thanks to its unique properties.

We will keep talking

Benoit Chatelard,   Vice President Production Printing Business Group

Benoit Chatelard,
Vice President
Production Printing Business Group

Ricoh will continue its dialogue with influencers in what we sometimes call the direct marketing ecosystem. Particularly with brand owners’ marketing executives and their marketing agencies. Talking to them about integrating print into communications, about harnessing data for first class results and about the power of Clickable Paper interactive print technology. It’s about raising their awareness and understanding – building demand for the direct mail and direct marketing services that our progressive production printing clients can deliver and add value to.

Why you actually can start ‘small’ with ‘Big Data‘ to boost the success of mail

We have recently conducted a survey among British marketing agencies and marketing departments to find out more about the future of direct mail (or ‘advertising mail’, as it is often called in Great Britain). Together with the British DMA (Direct Marketing Association), we invited both marketing agencies and companies to share their view on this specific communication medium.

The results of this survey have been released as a report (called ‘Mail Matters’, published on March 25th by the British DMA) and those of you who are interested in the details are more than welcome to download the study using the following link:

http://www.dma.org.uk/uploads/Ricoh%20report%202015-240315_5512a5d8dcc40.pdf

The report was full of useful findings, e.g. that the majority of respondents still consider direct mail a trusted and effective medium (which it is) but a minority of respondents is concerned that direct mail may be considered as ‘junk mail’ (which it is only  if you don’t make it relevant for the recipient!). A conclusion was that the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ seem to have acquired relatively little knowhow about the production and use of direct mail, so that they concentrate on online marketing activities.

DMA research Five Segments of advertising mail

However, most of the respondents  can still be considered ‘loyal fans’ of direct mail although the research revealed that they are expecting more from the medium (and, in the case of agencies,  from their clients). One of the barriers for more successful direct mail obviously is the ‘lack of data and data analytics’. The data, however, is already there … but it can seem difficult to fully harness, so let’s have a closer look at the issue of analytics:

In recent months more and more focus has been put on how much value ‘analysing Big Data’ could bring. Despite the fact that ‘Big Data’ has become a marketing buzzword and that many decision makers are unsure of exactly what Big Data is, a whole industry has formed to help marketers to identify the best target groups and create customer profiles.

Starting with ‘Big Data analytics’ might at first sound like David’s fight against Goliath (also known as the data monster).  A marketer will learn that consumer data is stored among multiple databases and that the format and content of the databases heavily depends on the application (CRM, sales database etc).

In order to get a full, 360 degree view of your customers an immediate task is to consolidate the data from those different data sources (basically ‘copy’ all datasets into one big Excel  or .csv file). Once you have done that you will be confronted with the fact  that one and the same customer’s data occupies more than one database; in other words, you have found ‘duplicates’. A deduping exercise is therefore needed. In addition to that, important data fields like the gender (which determines the salutation) are not always filled, foreign names are not recognised  correctly  or the address is written with many different variations.

So a first small, but very important, step in data analytics is ‘data cleansing and data enrichment’. Don’t think that this must be a manual process. As long as you can transform the data from the different sources into one and the same format (e.g .csv-files) you can use appropriate tools. Such software comes with built-in intelligence (and algorithms) to understand which data belongs to one and the same customer. Most of them come as a SaaS (software as a service), run by European companies following the strictest EU data privacy laws (Ricoh is currently developing such a tool with an authorised RiDP = Ricoh Development Partner). Large corporations might prefer local installations and regular local updates and upgrades.

My recommendation is to take ‘data cleansing’ and ‘data enrichment’ seriously. Today’s tools can not only improve the quality of your general data but can also check whether email addresses are valid or if GSM mobile phone numbers are still in use. The cost of this first small step (data cleansing and data enrichment) is relatively modest.  More good news is that such state-of-the-art algorithms to clean your data can be built into all your existing (and future) web forms so that no bad data will find its way into your databases.

Once your general data quality has improved, you will be ready for true data analytics. Ricoh and alliance partner SAS can ‘calculate’ the likelihood of your customers buying further products or services (called predictive data analytics), so that you can concentrate your focus and improve the effectiveness of your actions.

So: mastering the (big) data monster should start with small steps, with ‘data cleansing and enrichment’ at the beginning of the list. After that, getting full customer insights using data analytical software should be second. Once you have created customer profiles and target groups, talk to us so that we can combine your data insights with our dynamic document composition tools to create the truly personalised pieces of customer communication which can make direct mail so successful.

This process actually is what we call ‘Precision Marketing’. Learn more about Ricoh’s Precision Marketing practice on YouTube and see e.g. how retailers can benefit from data-analytics and mail.

Your opportunities are endless! Let’s take the first steps together…

Transforming transactions to engage customers

Letters, bills and statements are the largest part of the customer communications iceberg.

They are central to the customer experience. Yet the chance to say something powerful usually remains beneath the waves. That makes transactional printing a massive, largely
hidden marketing opportunity.

It has the potential to transform itself from transactional documentation to become a central force in customer communications – and a fundamental part of the marketing mix.

Inforgraphic - Transforming transactions to engage customers

Inforgraphic – Transforming transactions to engage customers

Download in PDF format: RICOH Infographic_transactional_FINAL

Ricoh Infographic – the power of Direct Mail

Direct mail is a vital node in the ‘connected world’ we live in. It’s a powerful medium. People like it. Respond to it. Act on it. In a blended campaign, Direct Mail creates an impact that’s more effective than digital marketing alone. In fact, in 2013, Central Mailing Services figures showed that nearly half the UK population responded to traditionally printed direct mail over the past year. Below are the seven reasons why integrating Direct Mail into your next campaign will help you market most effectively today and for many years to come.

  1.  The Mail moment – Consumers regard personalised direct mail as the trusted medium for customer communication
  2. Make People Act – 79% of consumers react to direct mail immediately
  3. The Sensory Experience – Direct Mail has a long shelf life – two thirds of consumers keep their mail
  4. Precision Targeting – top three reasons why people open mail:  contact from known brands and companies (51%), Personally
    addressed (47%), information about products or services of interest 40%
  5. Get creative – structural dimensional mail can have 20 times the penetrating power of flat direct mail
  6. Fantastic ROI –  most important more often than any other touchpoint in the consumer’s purchasing process
  7. Effectiveness – 48% of UK adults have done something in the last 12 months as result of mailing
The Power of Direct Mail

The Power of Direct Mail

 

Ricoh Direct Mail Infographic (PDF)

Find out more about Ricoh’s Solutions for Direct Mail

More statistics about Direct Mail – see: http://www.centralmailing.co.uk/

 

Europe’s medium-sized businesses gear up to capitalise on Big Data

Big dataIn a study of European business leaders, commissioned by Ricoh[1], just one in five medium sized business leaders chose Big Data as a driver when asked to rank the technology-led activities that are having the biggest positive impact on business growth. However, further insight shows that the top three key business growth drivers for business leaders of medium sized businesses are in fact data related – first is optimising business critical processes, followed by digitising hard copy documents and  making the transition to cloud computing.  So albeit under a different name, it is clear that medium sized businesses are gearing up to capitalise on the increased benefits of better data management.

We often hear medium sized business owners comment that their data is not vast enough to be classified as Big Data – that it’s an area for larger organisations to worry about.  So, while some don’t connect with the Big Data term and may not share the same number of terabytes as their peers in larger organisations, they are not overlooking the growth of their unstructured data, which is believed to be outpacing the growth in structured data three to one[2].

The reality is they are already taking steps to manage it and many are in a strong position to do so. The Ricoh sponsored research1 also shows that the majority of CIOs in medium sized business are more empowered today to change data business intelligence processes (61 per cent) and customer engagement processes (52 per cent) than the CIOs of large businesses, where 55 per cent are empowered to change data business intelligence processes and 46 per cent to customer engagement processes.

Additionally, the SMB Group Report ‘2012 SMB Routes to Market Study’ shows that 57 per cent of medium businesses have already purchased or upgraded a business intelligence/analytics solution in the past 24 months, and 49 per cent plan to do so in the next 12 months.

How to stay at the front

There are clear indicators that the race has begun for medium sized businesses to benefit from Big Data.  But how can business leaders ensure that they gain return on investment and remain at the front of the race.  Success will depend on the route taken to change the traditional ways of working, optimise data analytics and enhance customer communications.

A study by Techaisle of 3,360 businesses shows that ‘the highest success rate (determined by reaching a successful implementation of a big data project within six months of initiation) was achieved when an external consultant or organisation was brought in to develop proof of concept, advice on database architecture and ultimately develop the big data analytics solution.’

Such findings correspond with our experiences.  Medium sized businesses are less likely to have a dedicated data analyst. The responsibility is usually in the remit of an employee who is still trying to catch up with the fast rate of development of new tools and techniques for data analytics, and they must achieve it on top of a number of other important business activities. 

Ricoh can ease the pressure of the overwhelmed employee and work alongside them to make a difference quickly.  Often we will carry out data consolidation projects (to consolidate data stored in different data silos) and data analytical projects. The goal of those initiatives is not only to improve control but also to increase sales through truly personal and relevant customer communication across all channels. We will also combine data analytics, dynamic document composition, multi-channel output management and campaign reporting (we can provide the FusionPro portfolio of personalised cross media solutions across EMEA); thereby relieving our clients of the need to make large pre-investments in new data analytical software and hardware, as well as employing a range of different, specialist third parties to prepare, execute and evaluate their personalised marketing or communications campaigns. Clients can also opt for an initial pilot to test drive the service, and get a better insight into the potential for their business.  This can be implemented in as little as six weeks which can be a critical factor in this fast-changing field.

For example, at Ricoh we conducted a Precision Marketing workshop for bonprix, a German fashion retailer, which resulted in truly individualised catalogues (personalised catalogue covers), based on data analytics and customer profiling. Barthel Roitzsch, Head of Sales, bonprix (a member of the German Otto group) told us, “The personalisation of our catalogue covers and the relevant customer communication has led to a significant increase in response rates and to increased awareness for our products”.  We can also deliver location-based services and mobile customer loyalty solutions with one of our business partners, BizScience. This service is already reaping benefits for medium sized businesses across various industry sectors, including banking, insurance and retail.

Keep on winning

Benoit Chaterlard

Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA

Whether business leaders continue with their external partner or decide the benefits gained now justify an internal data analyst, the process must keep evolving to ensure the business continues to focus beyond gathering data to analysing and acting on the insights.   This is the only way to get newer insights into the impacts of business operations and learn more about their customers as they continue to engage with the businesses products and services.

And the end results can see businesses transform their customer relationships, increase sales, pursue more efficient operations and improve customer service.

Sources:

Flexible Production is The Future for Printed Books

eBooks may not have had as much of an impact in Europe as they have in the U.S., but demand will grow. This, along with other dynamics affecting the book printing and publishing markets in Europe, will shape the future of book production, according to new research commissioned by Ricoh Europe PLC.

eBooks represent 20 percent of book revenues in the U.S., four times that of most major European countries, where printed books are still highly prized and under a certain level of regulatory protection by the EU and various individual European governments.  In recent research commissioned by Ricoh, I.T. Strategies found that even in the U.S., nearly 70 percent of consumers said it was unlikely that they would give up entirely on printed books by 2016 and the study found that as much as 60 percent of eBooks downloaded are never read.  In Europe and other parts of the world, however, book publishing dynamics are quite different than they are in North America. Ricoh commissioned the I.T. Strategies study to gain a better understanding of these influences, the differences between the U.S. and Europe in these markets, and the changes that both book publishers and book printers in Europe can expect to see over the next several years.

Highlights

“There is a deep history of publishing in Europe and a very strong connection of publishing to the culture of individual countries. As a result, there is a common desire by the individual ECC members to protect their culture, which includes protecting the book publishing industry’s established business models.”

Major European Country and U.S. Book Statistic Summary, 2012

Major European Country and U.S. Book Statistic Summary, 2012

“Many of the larger book printers/manufacturers may have over-reached with acquisitions and aggressive price competition in the race to gain market share.  Smaller book printers/manufacturers have remained somewhat insulated from competition due to regional and specialty products focus. But at some point they may find themselves priced out of the market.”

ebook Share of Retail Revenue, 2010-2018, by Major Country

ebook Share of Retail Revenue, 2010-2018, by Major Country

The full research report can be downloaded here.  

Turning customer communications into new business opportunities

Critical commsOver the last few years a quiet revolution has been happening in the area of transactional documents and marketing. As Marketing departments focus on the total customer experience, they are looking at all customer touchpoints  and this inevitably leads to a new focus on transactional documents –  perhaps the most reliable customer touchpoint there is, with over 90% of documents being opened and read (InfoTrends).

Now more and more transactional documents are being seen as a key part of the marketing mix, and a key driver for the total customer experience.

In fact – according to Forrester*, improving customer service with more rapid and targeted communications is the overwhelming Customer Communications objective.

Improving customer service is the overwhelming CCM objective

Improving customer service is the overwhelming CCM objective

Nowadays when clients are much more in control of their communications, with the ability to opt out protected by law, the core, transactional communications (bills, statements and so on) become increasingly important as a means to communicate with customers. After all in Europe alone billions of critical documents are produced each year—insurance policies, medical records, voting ballots, statements, customised direct mail, casino coupons, lottery tickets and more.

Another key driver, over the past few years, is that the ability of Marketing Departments to control and use outbound communications has been significantly restricted due to new legislation such as opt out laws. In addition there has been an explosion in inbound communications, driven by Social Media. As a result Marketing Departments need to focus on being a lot smarter with handling customer communications. Hence they are adopting more process-driven technologies like Asset Management to automate the process of customer communications.

Of course technologies like these have been widely used in transactional documents for many decades.  The result: a new focus on how to maximise the efficiency of all forms of customer communications both outbound and inbound. This is what we call Critical Communication.

Introducing Critical Communications

For us, Critical Communications is more than transactional documents such as bills statements, customer letters and so on. It covers all areas of process-driven communications – including “thank you emails”, confirmation letters, proposals and so on.

More and more “marketing documents” are really now part of Critical Communications processes.  According to Forrester*, there are now a whole range of document outputs that come under the area of Critical Customer communications.

Range of document outputs

For example: if a person filled in an online request an insurance quote, then the confirmation email may be subject to regulatory compliance. Depending on their credit status there may be legal requirements to use certain wording, and even in some cases printed communications.

Other examples are:

  • Welcome packs
  • Re-activation documents
  • Loyalty / Retention mailings
  • Customer letters

This is why Ricoh has now introduced a broad suite of workflow solutions designed to cover all of the key areas of delivering and managing Critical Communications.

Our Critical Communications solution suite can help you grow your business and by helping you prove that every document is printed, inserted, reprinted and mailed with accuracy. And, our systems are really easy to reconfigure to meet changing regulations and document formats.  Importantly they now also cover Marketing communications.

Regulatory compliance and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

If you’re already working with customers in regulated industries or want to grow into this business, you will know that this market is driven by regulatory compliance and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It can be very challenging it is to meet the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and deal with regulatory compliance, all while keeping costs as low as possible.

Critical customer communications requirements are rarely straightforward. For example, Shop Direct UK had 22 different forms and Diamond Marketing Solutions US (described later) had 206 forms.

Companies are under pressures to keep the costs as low as possible. That’s why many are now turning to automated workflows (like Ricoh Process Director) which deliver both audit-ready reports to prove compliance, and an efficient job tracking and management system so they can meet deadlines and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty

A significant side benefit of an automated workflow is that Companies or their PSPs can also reduce postal costs with automated reprints and sorting for high-volume discounts, and of course reduce wastage.

Not just multi-channel but omni channel, with print a key part of the brand experience

“In today’s digital age, customers expect multichannel experiences where they can move seamlessly between channels and devices how and when they want.” Accenture*

Today consumers expect to receive communications across multiple channels: print, online, mobile. If they call the Call Centre with a query they expect the Call Centre to be fully aware of their account and the terms of the latest offer. As a result, Marketing communications are increasingly falling under the remit of Critical communications. This means that they need to be managed and controlled – just as the more traditional transactional communications.

Centralising management of marketing assets, streamlining on-demand output requests, enabling customized materials and managing cross-media communications and web-to-print submissions are all essential building blocks for becoming a multichannel powerhouse.

Despite many efforts to the contrary print is here to stay. In some situations – where you need your customer to take action – print is simply the best form of communication. Examples includes letters demanding payment, notice of arrears, and Direct Mail campaigns to acquire new customers. Hence it’s no surprise that  more and more brands are beginning to appreciate the unique value of print as part of the whole brand experience.  Rather than replacing print with electronic presentment, modern brands are looking at ways to maximise the value of each communications medium.

Multi-channel

It’s all about the technology

The solution you use should incorporate a comprehensive set of workflow and integrated print technologies to streamline print jobs, customer communications and mail delivery requirements.  The easiest way to do this is to implement a single view of all communications, across all channels, which helps to increase efficiency and maintain integrity of critical documents.

Our Critical Communications solutions suite provides secure, automated and highly regulated management of critical documents via a centralized portal.  The result is that you can meet all of the regulatory and document integrity requirements that your clients and the larger industry demands, while also enabling personalization of promotional materials and management of those communications across all channels – print, electronic, social media and more.

A good example of this is. Diamond Marketing Solutions (US) is a good example of the complexity of Critical Communications. They specialise in the creation, production and deployment of data-driven, highly personalised communications in print and digital response media. They recently replaced a forms-based print solution with 206 different pre-printed forms with a “white paper in, full colour out” solution based on Ricoh IP5000 colour inkjet and Ricoh Process Director.

Grow at your own pace

You need not implement a whole new Critical Customer Management (CCM) system to manage Critical communications . CCMs are appropriate for large, complex, clients. However you can build a solution, piece by piece as your needs grow.

One example is Ricoh’s TotalFlow DocEnhancer.  This is a plug in to Adobe Acrobat which allows you to make existing variable data documents multi-channel by inserting QR codes and / or bar codes – without having to change the original document.  In this way you can make your document cross-media at the point when they are printed, and now when the documents are composed.

Summary

Benoit Chaterlard

Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA

By its very nature, Critical communications is an essential function to any business. Therefore it’s no surprise that many Companies or their PSPs who focus on Critical communications are finding more and more opportunities to develop and extend their business not just in the area of print but also in communications management.

For more Insights from Ricoh see: ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond

Sources