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A look at where marketing automation falls short

30-second summary:

  • Marketing automation platforms are amazing tools that allow you to scale communications and conduct a variety of customer journeys from one central hub.
  • Using direct mail and tactile marketing automation (TMA), marketers create a sensory experience for prospects and customers to create an emotional connection.
  • Intent data tells how and when a prospect or customer is trending about a particular product or service, and should provide information about how you are communicating with them.
  • Consistent use of a unique combination of channels to tell a meaningful and personalized story to each prospect maximizes effectiveness.

Marketing automation platforms are amazing tools that allow you to scale communications and conduct a variety of customer journeys from one central hub. However, the only thing they can’t always achieve is creating the intimacy people crave.

With the surge in digital communications in 2020, making personal connections through a screen is harder than ever. What is the antidote to digital communication fatigue? Direct mail; A sensory experience for prospects and customers to create an emotional connection.

And I’m not talking about the direct spam mail you may have received in the past. I’m talking about thoughtful and personalized branded moments delivered at the perfect time. Unboxing experiences that surprise and inspire. Content that meets the needs of the potential customer. Another call 15 minutes after the package was delivered.

Leading marketers at Zoom, Salesforce, Proofpoint and others create unforgettable brand moments like these for their prospects and customers. It leads to incredible results for their businesses. Proofpoint generated 12 times the meetings and 6.5 times the pipeline in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019 with this strategy.

PFL and Demand Metric surveyed nearly 600 marketers and found integrated, branded and personalized direct mail to be the most effective channel for reaching target audiences.

You may think that completing such an experience in white gloves has to be a lot of work and not scalable. Fortunately, tactile marketing automation (TMA) makes it easy to orchestrate these experiences.

With TMA, direct mail is integrated directly into your automated customer trips. Here’s how to create remarkable (and yes automated) tactile experiences for your audience.

Start with intent data and personalized communication

As marketers, we know that intent data tells us how and when a prospect or customer is inclined to a particular product or service. It should provide information on how to communicate with them about what they are interested in, including direct mail campaigns.

Personalization is an integral part of this strategy. However, personalization shouldn’t be confused with message stacking and blowing up. Brands can’t rely on simply adding a prospect’s first name to an email template to make a message feel personal. Customers want more. Combining personalization and intent data for trigger-driven campaigns produces the best results.

Here is an example. Let’s say we have a consumer named Pete. Pete visits a sporting goods website, finds a pair of shoes he likes, goes to the checkout, and abandons his shopping cart.

Even though Pete left his shopping cart, if the customer journey is set up correctly in the marketing automation platform, it could result in a direct mail postcard being sent to Pete’s house with a 25% discount coupon for the shoes he wants to buy. Or if he actually bought the shoes, it could trigger a postcard with wandering messages for a backpack or other gear.

This is real personalization based on specific recipient actions and fully customized content.

Multichannel campaign orchestration

I wouldn’t be a great resource if I told you to stop using two channels for marketing.

According to the State of Multichannel Marketing Report 2020, marketers state that they see the greatest success when they use four to six channels. Consistent use of a unique combination of channels to tell a meaningful and personalized story to each prospect maximizes effectiveness.

For example, let’s say a B2B software company sent a prospect a hard copy of their latest eBook. The FedEx delivery notification can automatically trigger an email to the prospect via the eBook and at the same time notify the sales representative to make a follow-up call.

This timely follow-up emphasizes the prospect’s attention to the physical mail and gives the prospect the ability to respond digitally.

Don’t stop here. The delivery notification can also trigger ad and social media ads for the prospect.

Kenshoo reports that retargeting can increase ad retention rate by 400 percent – the average click-through rate (CTR) for display ads is just 0.07 percent, while the average CTR for retargeted ads is 0.7 percent.

By carefully coordinating the channels and timing, a prospect feels seen. They feel like the organization went out of their way to create a great experience for them – an organization that they want to work with.

Okta is one such organization that TMA uses to create powerful experiences for customers.

Tactile marketing automation in practice

Okta, a leader in identity and access management, has had a tough time getting IT managers into target whale accounts for the sales team. This left the sales team spinning their wheels and spending too much time watching digital marketing efforts and the low overall conversion rate.

So Okta turned to the powerful combination of TMA and account-based marketing (ABM). To enhance the commitment to C-level IT executives, Okta added personalized video mailers to its ABM campaigns. As soon as a target contact made digital contact with Okta via a webinar registration or an open email, they were automatically added to the TMA campaign to receive a video mailer.

Each mailer contained a personalized video detailing each company’s specific vulnerabilities. A note card attached to the video with account-specific details and a custom landing page URL ensured that prospects had a highly personalized experience.

Once the prospect received the mailer, Okta used delivery notifications to make a timely email and follow-up call. The results? Okta saw its target account’s web traffic increase 73% from the previous month and a 40% booking rate for meetings.

As marketers continue to struggle with more data-driven results and fewer resources, they must create multi-channel campaigns that leverage customer analytics, personalization, and intent data.

Batching and blasting are no longer a problem for today’s consumer. Campaigns that are exclusively digital or exclusively direct mail are also not carried out. It’s time to craft memorable moments for your audience, and it’s okay to let automation do the heavy lifting. Cheers to better experiences and stronger connections in 2021!

Nick Runyon is a seasoned manager with experience developing and implementing marketing strategies that enable rapid and scalable growth. As the CMO of PFL, he helps marketers achieve unparalleled results through direct mail that is coordinated with digital marketing and sales.

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