Personalization for small print businesses

How and where to start

Aaron Tavakoli, Product Marketing EFI

We’ve all heard about personalization and how critical it is to drive better engagement with your audience. Personalized messages, communications, and content routinely produce better marketing results and stronger customer relationships, Evergage reports that 98% of marketers say personalization advances customer relationships. While larger enterprises have the resources and budgets to invest in comprehensive personalization programs in their communication and demand generation programs, how can small and medium businesses build a strategy that leverages content personalization?

There are many different facets to personalization, for this discussion, I’m going to focus primarily on communication and marketing programs. These comprise email campaigns, mobile messaging, HTML/web content, social media, and course print or direct mail. Today integrated marketing (sometimes called multi-channel marketing or omnichannel marketing) is a strategy that combines all of these elements and produces a campaign that may touch the audience using any combination of these channels as per the workflow chart below.

The key element to any of these programs is data. The campaign revolves around the available audience data. As always, better quality data will drive better quality marketing and communication programs. Furthermore, a well-designed campaign can improve and expand the audience data. Today print is often overlooked, as many marketing agencies focus purely on digital programs – but print can be integrated in digital campaigns, and when executed correctly, print can also include personalized elements. Direct mail has the potential to drive response rates that are as much as x28 times higher than email. Printed communications can be integrated through the use of QR Codes or pURLs (Personalized URLs).

For SMB’s (small and medium businesses) looking to take advantage of these programs to improve their outbound marketing, the technology landscape can be daunting. Numerous solutions handle pieces of the workflow – but many leave the business to string it all together. Also, small businesses aren’t as likely to have a good handle on their customer data. It’s often trapped in disconnected systems such as; email, accounting, and marketing software. For most, marketing data comprises a customer name, address, and email address.

EFI designed MarketDirect Cross Media for that exact reason – to provide a simple, intuitive yet comprehensive solution that anyone can use to drive compelling and personalized communications. MarketDirect Cross Media provides one integrated environment to manage communications – and combine them with customer data to build personalized email, web content, print, and even mobile elements.

MarketDirect Cross Media authoring tools are visual, requiring minimal programming skills, leveraging templates to enable campaigns to be designed once – and utilized repeatedly. With the campaign wizard, MarketDirect guides you through each step of creating some of the most common campaigns, meaning you can build and deploy an entire campaign in under an hour.

Most importantly, MarketDirect manages your customer data, enabling you to create personalized content that speaks to audiences and drives improved engagement. So each campaign you run adds another layer of intelligence to your customer profile.

Once you’ve got better quality data – what can you do with it? Once you have quality data that combines contact information with behavior and transactional data, you know enough about your customers to personalize your communications. For example, if you look at your customer data and see that a group of your customers order the same items or services, you may decide to make them aware of the other available services. If you look at your customer data and notice that individual customers haven’t ordered from you for a long time, you may want to reach out and offer them a promotional discount for the next order. Personalization helps improve the results of almost any outreach campaign.

What can I personalize?

You can personalize almost any element of your communication. This includes text/copy – where you can insert values directly from your customer database (think of a basic mail merge) Dear {{John}}. You can personalize graphics, images and artwork. This maybe data driven and based on customer profile data. You can personalize an image’s contents – you may have seen an image where names are written on a cake or in the sand at the beach. (per below). These elements help to drive better engagement and higher response rates.

With EFI MarketDirect Cross Media you can build all of these elements into your programs. You can also adjust campaigns rapidly as they are running and learn what is performing well and what isn’t. Crucially you maintain complete control and ownership of your customer data, reducing the risk of theft or exposure – and giving you full flexibility to leverage it in future programs.

MarketDirect is event-driven, so each interaction – an open email, a download, and landing page can trigger the next event in the campaign automatically. Your campaigns can run for a fixed period, with a simple periodical drip, or it can run for months – with more complex logic driving a customer along a nurturing path. Campaign performance can be tracked and measured using customized dashboards, and adjustments are simple and straight forward.

So, where do I begin?

One of the first campaigns I often recommend, particularly for a SMB is a lost customer recovery campaign. It’s simple, you don’t need a great deal of complex data to drive it, and the results and impact can be realized quickly, assuming your messaging and call to action is on point. Some early wins will give you the momentum you need to develop more complex programs.

Don’t over complicate things, start small – and if possible, use the technology on your own business for internal communications first; whether it’s the company newsletter or employee communications, it’s a great way to start and learn. Make sure you include personalized elements in even the most straightforward campaigns.

No matter how you start, it’s essential to start. Building experience and familiarity with the concepts and technology will give you confidence when you need it most, like during a pandemic for example.