Consider the following scenarios:
- Any salesperson knows a lead has to be nurtured. Why? Because most everyone you initially speak to is not ready to buy. There are various steps a prospect must go through before purchasing. Would you throw out the “non-purchasing” leads? This allows the salesperson to “work the lead” gathering information, follow up calls and/or visits culminating in a purchase. Equally important, prospects are handled differently based on their specific requirements and actions. Some will need additional information, others a call back in “x” days.
- Now think about the traditional marketing process. A direct marketing program is executed generating sales from responders. Often the marketing department plans the next marketing campaign for another target audience. Or, in some cases, non responders from the past program are re-solicited with another campaign.
The two scenarios are diametrically opposed. The second scenario represents “lost opportunity” in sales dollars by not nurturing the “non-purchasers”.
Historically, it would be a manual process of developing various queries through the IT department identifying each “group” based on their pre-determined marketing “actions”. The marketing department would take the data and coordinate with external printers or email providers to launch the targeted message to those groups. Secondly, you would incur minimum production costs. It would be financially prohibitive to launch one piece of communication. Finally, the logistics of tracking and analyzing responses would be a manual process requiring another request into the IT department. All but the largest companies, having ample financial resources and time, could develop this type of sophisticated marketing program.
Now, you can. Recently, I came across a company specializing in, what I call trigger marketing. What is a “trigger”? It is a responder’s action (or lack of action) such as:
- A request for information by telephone
- Filling out a web form and requesting specific information
- Responding to an email via a web form requesting follow up in a specific time period
- Making a purchase
- Filling out their birthday for special announcements
- Not making a purchase in a specified time period
- Making a particular type of purchase indicating a particular preference encouraging cross and up selling opportunity
- Requesting a follow up phone call
The company targets small to mid size corporations. Their platform, called “Smart Tracks”, automates the sales and marketing process through the development of specific “touches”. What is a “touch”? Simply, it is a series of emails, phone calls or direct mail pieces sent to an individual contact at a predetermined time. It is an Outbound Communication compared to an Inbound Inquiry. You create a series of Touches in Smart Tracks using personalized post cards, emails and business letters. You assemble the series of Touches in a Track and the Track is assigned to a Campaign.
Campaigns are set up with all pre-defined collateral (i.e. emails, direct mail, web form(s)) along with rules determining which prospects receive which series of “touches” based on their “triggers”. Once the rules and budgets are established, the marketing campaign is on auto pilot. It starts and stops based on the your predetermined instructions and budget. Responses are collected within the same platform facilitating response analysis and ROI.
The software integrates with your website. Specialized web forms can be created to collect specific information from a campaign’s visitors. Based on the selection(s) through the web form, (they will be stored in the internal database), the prospect will be funneled into a particular track based on pre-defined rules.
Another technical feature is something called Variable Data Printing (VDP). This is a high tech printing, (email or print), feature allowing any collected data element change the message for each recipient. Why is this valuable? Because response rate increase when communication is personalized to the individual receiving it. Examples include:
- Changing the name and address
- Changing images
- Changing promotional offers
What is especially cost effective is that the software will execute (on demand) one response or 1000′s of responses. Smart Tracks is customer relationship marketing at its best.
In an earlier post, “Your Marketing Database”, I discussed the importance of a database in collecting and storing information about your company’s prospects and customers. Your database along with Smart Tracks goes to the heart of customer relationship marketing. Customers will generate the greatest return on investment (ROI). Therefore, focus your marketing dollars on your customers and highly qualified prospect leads that require nurturing.
Think of the possibilities using Smart Tracks:
- Develop a campaign to cross sell customers after they make purchases. Specific products are tailored to customers based on their specific purchase. Based on specific customer triggers, automated communication is emailed or mailed.
- Sales executives can automate their follow up communication with a series of touches to each qualified lead to increase their closing ratio.
- Birthday announcements can be tailored to each specific announcement. For example, a picture of women’s clothing can be included in one announcement, and men’s clothing in another based on gender (The gender would have to be a data element stored in the database).
- Special loyalty promotions with different promotional offers can be sent based on the customer’s historical purchasing behavior.
In the May 4, 2009 issue of DM News an article entitled “Mining for (data) gold” discussed the increasing importance of well maintained in-house customer and prospect databases. Mr. Jonathan Marguilies, of the Winterberry Research Group stated that non-targeted, saturation and “spray and pray” type mailings were declining.
He went on to state:
Where we’re not seeing declines is in data-driven, impactful, relevant communication. The channel that continues to drive and be positioned for growth is personal, digitally produced, variable content around creative offers – the true one-to-one communications.
In short, just the type of marketing communications Smart Tracks produces. The software is not for the non-marketer. It is available through authorized Smart Tracks agents. Additional information about Smart Tracks and how it can help your company is available on my website’s CRM page.