Consumers today are accustomed to being bombarded with ads and sales messages at every turn of their online and offline lives, meaning companies need to work harder if they want their marketing to be noticed. So now seems like a great time for marketers to turn their attention to transpromotional communications (transpromo) – which is all about including personalised marketing messages within bills, statements and other transactional documents that people are much less likely to ignore. But even here, I think you have to think smart to avoid alienating customers and becoming just more ‘noise’.
With email open rates on the decline, the zeal for online ad-blocking damaging publisher revenues, and more than two-thirds of people thinking that a quarter of what comes through their letter boxes is junk, we can expect to see an increase in transpromo as companies try out different avenues to reach their customers.
The benefits are two-fold. Firstly, because transactional documents are the ones customers are most likely to read, you can be more confident your transpromo messages will at least be seen. Secondly, using bills and other business documents for marketing purposes can provide the option to make cost savings by cutting back on traditional direct marketing activity. If that means fewer trees end up as junk mail then it’s also good news for the environment as well as reducing postage costs.
On some transactional documents there may, of course, be limited space (among all the essential information that needs to be presented). But with research suggesting that the current level of information overload has eroded the average attention span to around eight seconds, perhaps transpromo’s reliance on short, sharp, easy-to-grasp messages could actually be just what we should all be aiming for.
The key to effective transpromo is personalisation: making offers that are relevant to each customer’s particular circumstances, such as their historical buying preferences, geographical location, age or income. And improvements in data analytics and customer profiling enable companies to target people with relevant personalised offers with increasing certainty. But I think we’re getting to the point now where even with this type of very well targeted marketing, you have to be very careful not to oversell to people. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming just another annoyance.
Here are some thoughts on how you can ‘mix it up’ so that you are using transpromo for improving the relationship with the customer, so that they are more inclined to buy from you, rather than just as a vehicle for a direct promotion which may be viewed as an unwelcome ‘hard sell’:
Think of the big picture
In the main transpromo is aimed at people who are already customers (although it could also be used within documents that go out to suppliers and business partners, for example). So, rather than always going for the cross-sell or up-sell, why not plan a longer-term campaign based around education and information provision, with the object of getting closer to those customers and building loyalty? Your starting point should be your customers’ interests and problems – particularly those that relate to what you sell. Mass personalisation technologies are now available that let you hone the message to a wide range of individuals, from turkey farmers to teachers! This does require some effort learning about your target audience and what makes them tick, but it could pay dividends.
Keep adding value
Use transpromo to provide useful information or advice that is relevant to customers, and drip-feed this over time, so that you become recognised as an expert or ‘thought leader’, adding value that goes well beyond the products that you provide. You could include a link (or QR code) to a personalised web page where customers can download a helpful free guide or booklet (or in B2B sectors a white paper or report), for example.
Use the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate
Try to use transpromo to show customers they are valued. Deliver personalised discount codes or exclusive competitions to regular customers to thank them for their business and keep them loyal.
It is definitely getting harder for marketers to cut through the noise of marketing activity that is vying for people’s attention on a daily basis. Transpromo offers an efficient way to reach customers via the documents they are most likely to read. Specialist customer communications software can work with your existing financial, CRM, marketing and other operational systems to insert personalised messages into your transactional documents, for printing or electronic delivery. So it is easier than ever to turn your bills and statements into an effective marketing communications vehicle. But just as important is the need to think about how you can really get the most out of the technology, and that comes down to getting the message right. While transpromo can be used for a simple cross-sell or up-sell message, it is important not to forget its potential for more subtle relationship and brand building. Your customers might thank you for it.
About Lynda Kershaw
Lynda Kershaw is marketing manager at software and services company Macro 4, a division of UNICOM Global. A marketer with over twenty years' experience, Lynda helps organisations use technology to personalise customer interaction, improve customer experience and make a painless transition to digital communications. www.macro4.com