Is it possible to create essential printed communication that includes targeted messages and intrigues each person who retrieves it from their mailbox? The simple answer is: Yes! Even better – that answer is true for every age group, economic strata, and geographical location. Today we know that everyone wants to be the commander of their own inbound communication, and preference research indicates that they want their essential communication delivered in all channels. This is an opportunity for those who embrace data to create messages that resonate!

Start with the basic elements of what you know about the people on the receiving end of essential communication. Notice the word people because it is important. People want to be valued and respected, and that is where using what you know about the customer, including where they live and their community make-up, helps you to build evocative marketing communication tied to essential communication. It creates a marketing moment that feels like serendipity.

With just a few elements you can begin a program that works in every segment. Here is how it works. If you know where someone lives, you know what seasons they experience. With their ZIP code you can know if they are an urban dweller, suburbanite, or rural resident. This data is readily accessible and doesn’t require an opt-in. Now you can start by linking current offers and options in a relevant way to each of those groups. The marketing team may already have assets that they use in direct mail and mass market campaigns. By linking TransPromo to the surroundings recipients live in, it appears more personal.

The next trick is to make what was old, new again. Twenty-five years ago, we were excited to get direct mail that had our name on it. The excitement waned as everyone learned the secrets of variable data field replacement. Marketing moved on and away from simple field replacement, but it has a place today! To add intrigue to marketing or educational content in dedicated information blocks on transactional communication, take advantage of existing composition processes to grab a first name and add it to the message you want to deliver. Because you have permission to send the transactional communication, you have permission to use their name!

But, don’t overuse it. Create a marketing cadence that alternates between using a name and using serendipitous offers. If it’s permitted under the data use guidelines that govern the relationship, consider using data from the last few months to make an offer that is in a progression. For banks this might be an alternative type of account, a new savings option or new credit card. For credit card billers it might be related to purchases. Many utilities have already adopted programs to use their bills to offer home energy audits and access to alternative energy.

Also consider a TransPromo approach for regulated communication that features education in lieu of marketing. Every type of regulated communication has opportunities to better inform the people who receive them. Tax invoices can add data-driven education that helps the recipients understand how their bill was calculated and where the money goes. Explanation documents commonly found in insurance and healthcare can go beyond identifying benefits used and expand to include information about additional benefits available based on the policies the recipient holds and could use recommendation engines to recommend better coverage options.

The most important element of using data to create more personal and relevant communication is to understand the regulations that rule your opportunities. The regulatory environment today frowns on exposing too much information in communication of any type. That is not a reason to avoid data-driven communication. It is a reason to create a well-defined program that has enough elements that the person opening the mail will spend time with it.

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Eric Staples

Meet the Author

Eric Staples

As a 20-year veteran of the print industry, Eric is an established global product leader responsible for the development and delivery of a multi-million dollar global software and services portfolio. A native of Colorado, Eric holds degrees in both Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, balancing his technical and business aptitude to prepare him for working with teams and customers around the globe. From first joining the IBM Printing Systems Division to his current position as Director, Ricoh Global Software Product Management, Eric is tasked with driving the development of high-value products through innovation, providing solutions to Ricoh customers across a broad spectrum of industries in the commercial print, transactional and enterprise space.


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