Three Winning Strategies to Drive Physical and Digital Communications

Mid-size businesses want to do more interesting things with their marketing. Mail service providers can help by advising on converged print and digital strategies.

The rising importance of web, social and mobile channels means businesses today have more opportunities than ever to reach customers for marketing, sales and service. The question is, how do they cut through the noise in such a diffuse and competitive environment to ensure their customer communications are as potent and persuasive as possible?

The answer may come as a surprise: the best way to drive impact from digital channels is to turn to a time-tested physical channel: print mail.

Mail remains a powerful marketing medium, delivering 70 percent greater impact than digital ads. Customers also say they prefer mail communication to telemarketing and digital ads.

Print’s enduring effectiveness is especially important news for two different groups: mail service providers who support mid-size businesses, and the in-house print-and-mail departments that work within those companies.

Mid-size enterprises (think regional banks, insurance providers, credit unions, and other similar businesses) want to do more interesting things with their marketing. They see how customers rely on mobile, social and the web to find and purchase goods. They understand they could be doing more with their transactional and direct mail to improve customer communications and increase cross-sell opportunities. They also see how their larger competitors are able to invest in omnichannel marketing strategies to reach potential buyers.

However, mid-size businesses need practical guidance and support to both combine, and maximize, physical and digital channels. That’s a massive opportunity for both internal and external print and mail services providers.

In-house operations managers can make their department more relevant and indispensable to the rest of the business. Outside providers can expand the range of services they can offer to their clients, and carve out a bigger role in the mid-size market.

Both of these groups likely already have a good handle on how to deliver great print-only solutions, but still need help understanding their value proposition from a digital perspective. To that end, these three winning strategies can empower print and mail providers to drive more impactful physical and digital marketing communications for their customers.

01.   Win Through Data

Most businesses already know that they’re sitting on a gold mine in terms of collected customer data. Insurance companies, for example, have large amounts of demographic, geographic and historical information that they could use to drive cross-selling strategies across different lines of business, provide more personalized customer service to forge deeper longer-lasting relationships with customers, or to reduce fraud and manage risk.

For prospecting, they also have access to reams of big data from outside sources like the USPS®, Census, and social and geo-behavioral data.

However, insurers might not be clear exactly how they can practically make use of all of this information. The solution begins with an accurate, dynamic “Golden Customer Record” that combines physical and digital address data with a comprehensive social/behavioral/geographic profile. This is the foundation for better targeting and segmentation, multichannel campaign design, customer engagement, and overall communications performance.

Print and mail service providers can help by providing data services that create and maintain this Golden Record.

02.   Win Through Channel Expansion

Mid-size businesses understand that they need to do more with digital channels, but they might not be sure how to start. Print and mail providers can help them dip their toes into new waters by first creating a connected customer experience across print and a single new digital channel.

For example, consider a credit union that want to experiment with mobile advertising. These types of ads are effective because they reach a large, captive audience: the average American spends around five hours per day in front of a mobile screen, according to analytics firm Flurry. Additionally, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reports that 76 percent of mobile buyers say they’ve engaged with a mobile ad, which could include clicking through to visit the advertiser’s website or making a purchase.

Print and mail providers could advise on a combined mobile and mail strategy, in which the effectiveness of a mobile campaign is boosted by direct mail targeted toward individuals who have engaged with a mobile ad. Similarly, a direct mail campaign could be extended with follow-up mobile ads. The key benefit is extending campaign life and reach, increasing the number of potential customer touchpoints to improve the chance of conversion.

03.   Win Through a Personalized Omnichannel Approach

Businesses that want to take their marketing a step further could create the ultimate omnichannel experience with complete print and digital convergence. Omnichannel communications can help mid-size businesses improve new customer onboarding and increase conversion rates throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

All of these use cases are enabled by a mix of digital and physical solutions. Digital color printing, for example, enables richer, more impactful print mail for better customer engagement. A full-color mailpiece that includes the customer’s name and other data is proven to provide response rates that are 500 percent higher than black and white mail with no personalization. Meanwhile, digital solutions like location intelligence and predictive “best next action” technologies can offer better personalization and decision-making in marketing and customer service.

What’s more, businesses like those we cited above could enhance their paper bills and statements with digital components like personalized interactive video. These videos are tailored to the individual viewer based on their unique, data-driven Golden Record. They’re entirely interactive, giving customers the chance to answer specific service questions or make changes to their accounts. Insurance companies have relied on personalized interactive video to enhance customer service – advising bill recipients to visit their personal video link to learn about premium changes could reduce bill shock, for example.

Mail services providers – whether they’re inside the actual business they serve, or if they’re an external service provider – could advise their end-clients on how to maximize these solutions.

Indeed, service providers have a momentous opportunity to be a mid-size business’s lifeline to converged physical and digital strategies. At a time when customer engagement is more complex than ever, service providers could offer the clarity and strategic direction businesses need to drive better results from customer communications.

Learn more about the game-changing impact of physical and digital channel convergence on print and mail operations in the new Pitney Bowes whitepaper, “Mail: Reinvented and Resurgent”