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Time to get personal

Add intelligence and relevance to your customer communications with Neopost output management software

There is clear and growing evidence that organisations that personalise communications improve both marketing effectiveness and customer loyalty.
There is clear and growing evidence that organisations that personalise communications improve both marketing effectiveness and customer loyalty.

Do you send the same material to all your customers via the same communication channel, or do you mix and match the message and the medium to suit the preferences, needs and interests of each customer?

There is clear and growing evidence that organisations that personalise communications improve both marketing effectiveness and customer loyalty. New research by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School1, published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, shows that the likelihood of someone making a charitable donation depends on whether they feel better or worse off than others, with the obvious implication that if a charity can tailor a mailing according to whether a recipient feels ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’, it can maximise the chances of a successful outcome.

To make its point, the study uses the example of a slogan produced for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life campaign – ‘Making strides toward a world with more birthdays’. Because this message focuses on giving ‘the world’ more birthdays, the report states that it is likely be more effective in reaching those who feel relatively better off than others, as they tend to give for altruistic reasons i.e. to ‘give back’ and be a better person.

It adds that the chances of raising funds from people who feel generally worse off would be improved if the wording was changed to ‘Making strides toward giving you more birthdays’. This is because people who feel inferior in some way are more likely to give in order to benefi themselves – to give ‘oneself’ more birthdays, in this example.

Co-author Eric Levy of University of Cambridge Judge Business School said: “Given that most charity advertisements focus on ‘benefis to others’ rather than to oneself, the study suggests that many of these ads may be ineffective in motivating people to give when they are feeling worse off than others. So charity managers should seek to ascertain if their target audience feels worse off than others and, if so, say something like ‘help improve air quality so you can live a healthier life’ rather than ‘help improve air quality so people around the world can live healthier lives’.”

Personalisation

Such an approach might be seen as intrusive, even presumptuous. Yet there is growing evidence in the business world that tailoring messaging to reflct what is known about a customer’s buying habits, lifestyle, income, interests, preferences and other variables is welcomed by consumers, principally because it makes contact from businesses more relevant.

In a recent survey by Ricoh Europe2, almost two thirds (64%) of consumers said brands could do more to tailor their communications to their needs – and 80% said they would be willing to share personal data including salary and health details to enable this.

The survey also highlights the risks of not personalising communications. Almost two thirds (65%) of respondents said they feel less loyal to a brand that sends them irrelevant information, with 63% saying they would spend less and 57% withdrawing their custom completely.

Targeted communications also have major positive benefis, including better response rates, closer customer relationships, less waste and cost savings. What, then, is stopping organisations from personalising communications?

One factor is the complexity of managing personalisation without the software and equipment needed to automate processes. This is where output management solutions can really help.

Output management software

Output management software (OMS), like solutions offered by Neopost (see below), centralises and automates part, or all, of the processes required to produce digital and hard-copy customer communications, including document design, processing, production, despatch and archiving.

Automation of these processes makes it much easier to personalise communications in a number of ways, from customising greetings on letters to varying the offers, promotions and marketing material sent to each customer.

One of the key functions of almost all OMS solutions is the generation of barcodes and/or optical marks containing processing instructions for folder-inserters. These are read by the folder-inserter, which modifis envelope insertions accordingly, enabling businesses to send different printed material to different people as part of a unified process.

In the charity example mentioned above, you could print two separate leaflts one with the headline ‘Making strides toward a world with more birthdays’ and the other with the headline ‘Making strides toward giving you more birthdays’ and automatically insert the version that’s most appropriate to each individual recipient, based on what you know about them.

You could do this by hand, of course, but it would take much longer. Since installing an intelligent Neopost DS-200 folder-inserter and output management software, claims management company Claim Eazy has reduced the amount of time it takes to process outbound mail by 80%.

Automation also reduces the risk of errors and ensures that each person receives the documents they are meant to. This is particularly beneficial for organisations that handle sensitive customer data, especially those in healthcare, social services, education and fiancial services. Figures from the Information Commissioner’s Offie (ICO)3 show that sending sensitive data to the wrong recipient is one of the three most common causes of data security breaches.

Multi-channel communications

Another signifiant way in which Neopost output management solutions help organisations improve their document processes is by facilitating multi-channel communications.

This is not the marketing equivalent of leaving messages on someone’s landline, mobile phone, email and social media account. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Multi-channel communications lets you communicate with customers, suppliers and prospects using their preferred method of communication, whether that be mail, email, weblink, SMS, social media or fax.

For example, some people like to receive printed catalogues through the post to read at their leisure and keep for future reference, but prefer bills to be sent to a smartphone so that they can pay for them instantly using a mobile banking app. Adapting how documents are distributed to satisfy individual preferences can lead to better response rates and even improve cash flow.

Managing such a process without the appropriate tools is excessively complex and time-consuming, from the re-designing of documents for different channels to the diffiulty of tracking what has been sent to whom across different platforms.

An output management solution like Neopost OMS-500 or GMC Inspire simplifis the process, from document design to distribution via multiple channels. It provides a centralised, unifid view of all communications, irrespective of whether they were distributed electronically or printed and posted, and includes audit trails and an online archive of communications for dispute resolution and compliance purposes. It also makes it possible to centralise and standardise document design to maintain a consistent corporate identity across multiple channels.

Cutting costs

Customers love this level of personalisation, and so will your fiance director. By providing multi-channel distribution, OMS systems let you seamlessly migrate customers from postal to digital communications, helping you to implement digitisation and carbonreduction initiatives and save money.

Within a month of introducing Neopost OMS software and giving customers a choice of receiving invoices in the post or by email, bakery products supplier Ransons had cut its postage and paper costs by 20%.

Further costs savings come from the software’s ability to combine multiple letters to an individual in one envelope and group and presort mail to maximise Royal Mail volume discounts.

Conclusion

Neopost provides a full range of output management solutions to meet the diverse needs of customers, including OMS-200 (adding intelligence to folding and inserting); OMS-500 (document personalisation and multi-channel distribution); AIMS (mailing validation); and GMC Inspire (omnichannel document design, proofing and delivery of personalised communications).

Starting from different points and with different priorities, all four solutions can help businesses save money, increase productivity and improve communications effectiveness, while satisfying growing demand for relevant, tailored, timely communications.

To find out how Neopost output management solutions can help you transform your customer communications, please visit

www.neopost.co.uk/oms1.

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2018