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How Enterprise Direct Marketing Automation Platforms Maximize Productivity & Collaboration

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By Chris Nolan August 07, 2018 No Comments

The Direct Mail planning, execution and reporting process in Fortune 500 and other enterprise marketing environments requires multiple internal and external resources collaborating on detailed and critical steps across every stage of a campaign. The more complex the marketing strategy, the more time, data, project management hours, and communication between stakeholders is required to take a Direct Mail campaign from pro-forma, to in-home delivery and measurement. Enterprise marketing organizations invest tens to hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Direct Mail through an offline patchwork of people, systems, phone calls, meetings and point solutions. While these tools and processes may have sufficed in the past, they are taxed and challenged to support the complex versioning and personalization required to implement modern Direct Marketing and testing strategies.

Although hundreds of hours, teamwork, information exchange, data and money are required to implement a complex Direct Mail campaign, legacy processes and point solutions are counterproductive to collaboration because they require information to be stored and actioned in various, disparate and disconnected systems. Additionally, they require stakeholders to follow inconsistent processes, and communicate and collaborate through phone, Excel sheets, email, and SFTP sites. This creates long cycle times, budget waste, a lack of operational transparency, information silos and reporting delays, and inhibits shared learning and retention of institutional knowledge within organizations.

Using new, available enterprise Direct Marketing technologies that enable secure stakeholder collaboration, automation of complex Direct Mail campaigns, and on-demand dashboards and reporting, enterprise marketing organizations are digitally transforming their Direct Marketing capabilities to increase campaign profitability and operational transparency. These teams get campaigns out the door faster and are significantly reducing costs related to manual operating models and a heavy dependence on multiple vendors and consultants to supplement internal capabilities.

An Investment in Upgrading your Team

The legacy models for enterprise Direct Marketing operations leads to teams spending the majority of their time project managing campaigns, coordinating with vendors, and executing highly detailed, labor-intensive tasks. This process limits the overall output of the team, creates limited opportunities for growth and caps Direct Mail campaign testing and personalization. These teams are often overlooked, unsung heroes working with dated point solutions and tools to enable successful, revenue producing Direct Marketing campaigns. Today, their jobs are becoming more complex as their analytic and strategic counterparts are investing heavily in advanced targeting, offer and segmentation technology and are demanding more complex Direct Mail testing and personalization to improve campaign ROI. To bridge this gap, innovative enterprise marketing organizations are leveraging centralized Direct Marketing automation platforms to enable improved collaboration and productivity across internal and external stakeholders, and standardize and automate the once manual and labor-intensive processes associated with legacy Direct Mail execution. 

New technologies allow enterprise teams to quickly establish budgets and timelines, initiate and deploy complex Direct Mail campaigns, automate data operations, set project management and approval roles, and streamline workflows internally and with vendors so each stakeholder understands their tasks, deadlines and responsibilities. Additionally, automated workflows, alerts and notifications ensure there is no wasted time and effort, and prevents tiny, yet important details from slipping through the cracks. And, with access to a centralized, secure and on-demand platform of Direct Mail formats, costs, testing and personalization strategies, print assets, campaign deployment tools, activity reporting and results, every team member has the appropriate transparency into every aspect of Direct Marketing operations and detail on every campaign.

When the marketing and data operations for Direct Mail testing, personalization, creative development, campaign deployment and reporting are automated, enterprise marketing organizations can spend less time working on manual execution and invest more resources in marketing strategy, testing, personalization and campaign analysis. New technology upgrades internal capabilities, creates new learning opportunities and allows team members to develop skills to invest in creating more successful Direct Marketing campaigns. Teams work faster and smarter, and feel more valued when marketing automation and artificial intelligence assume menial tasks and allow them to rise into cerebral roles. 

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Reduce Time & Costs Associated with Scaling Personalization

Investments in data management, segmentation, and customer engagement platforms create an abundance of testing and personalization opportunities in enterprise marketing environments. Unfortunately, the more data and complexity a Direct Mail campaign requires, the more time, steps and labor it takes to develop content to support sophisticated personalization and versioning. And the more time a campaign takes to reach a prospect, the less relevant the messaging is when it arrives in home.  

Scaling Direct Mail personalization is a requirement for marketers as consumers and prospects engage with personalized content at a higher rate than generic messages. Enterprise Direct Marketing technology minimizes the collaboration time and effort required to scale personalization by leveraging a centralized platform to action a wide variety of Direct Mail formats, Direct Marketing assets and branding guidelines, and dynamically personalize complex Direct Mail campaigns based on marketing triggers, business rules and personalization logic. This gives marketers the ability to easily develop and iterate creative and messaging for campaigns and multivariate tests, and reduce costs and time spent on creative content development.

Legacy Direct Marketing operations models become strained with implementing the requirements for scaling Direct Mail personalization, especially across multiple vendors. Traditional processes for complex versioning require detailed data operations, instructions, vendor management and manual proofing to create approved, market-ready Direct Mail content. The more personalization, the more proofing and the more internal stakeholder time required to participate in this manual QC step to provide final sign-off prior to mailing. Innovative Direct Marketing automation platforms leverage Artificially Intelligent proofing (A.I. Proofing) technology to automate manual tasks, digitize workflows and processes with vendors, audit vendor quality and drastically reduce the time spent on vendor management.  

Additionally, enterprise Direct Marketing platforms provide transparency into testing and campaign analytics to allow internal teams to easily review Direct Mail results and performance metrics to identify the personalized creative, messaging, offers and medium that drive optimal ROI. Machine learning can be applied to analyze and interpret these results over time, and intelligently design, version and deploy winning Direct Mail campaigns autonomously based on budget, strategies, customer behavior and market conditions. 

Regain Control Over Vendor Costs & Production Quality

Most enterprise Direct Marketing teams rely on a collection of print vendors for everything from pricing and printing, to critical data processes, to versioning and content creation to marketing operations and reporting. Each vendor has their own processes, tools, outputs and workflows for marketing teams to follow - all which have been designed so the marketer can follow the most efficient process for each vendor's unique requirements and workflow. Processes, outputs, timelines, SLAs and reporting even vary between customer service teams, facilities and departments within the same printing company.

While print vendors are skilled production experts, they are not experts in optimizing your internal marketing operations or Direct Marketing investments. Relying on vendors for services outside of print execution is a common and costly habit which contributes to long cycle times, excessive re-work, and unpredictable and inflated campaign costs which are reconciled months after a campaign is complete. As most of these services are purchased ad-hock and on-demand, they often fall outside the contracted costs secured in an RFP and are charged at a premium.  

Utilizing innovative Direct Marketing technology, enterprise marketers can automate Direct Mail content creation and digitize consistent processes across their vendors. This modern approach creates an on-demand supply chain with standardized workflows and full transparency to ensure vendors are following the enterprise’s universal process and compliance requirements, not their own. This technology allows teams to internally self-generate highly-complex Direct Mail campaigns, and intelligently distribute instructions, data and campaign print assets to the most optimal vendor for a particular campaign. This automation negates the need for non-core services from the vendor, compresses campaign cycle times, reduces project management time, increases quality and automates operational reporting. And, vendors enjoy the benefit of receiving real-time project updates, consistently accurate data, complete instructions and final marketing assets to print campaigns much faster and at a lower cost.

Additionally, new Direct Marketing technology allows marketers to forecast investments and timing of Direct Mail campaigns on-demand, without waiting on vendors or internal procurement to produce cost estimates and timelines. RFP pricing and lead times can be managed and accessed through an intuitive interface (no more excel sheets & "cost tables") to enable investment forecasting and pro-forma development. And, as it is common for marketing teams to want to test Direct Mail formats and strategies outside of the those covered in an RFP, new enterprise Direct Marketing automation platforms allow them to easily explore their options while still meeting the requirements and guidelines of the procurement team. By enabling digital, real-time bidding processes for Direct Mail campaigns among their vendors, marketing and procurement teams are ensuring competitive pricing without having to make fixed long-term commitments, or locking into Direct Mail formats far in advance of determining their communications strategies. 

Streamline Stakeholder Involvement & Reduce Security Risks

As described above, the traditional enterprise Direct Marketing process makes it almost impossible to deploy complex, personalized Direct Mail campaigns at scale without involving months of labor, dozens of internal team members and various external stakeholders. A big problem with legacy operating models is that they introduce risk for customer data and information security to be compromised when Direct Mail programs are managed offline through multiple systems and share data with a slew of stakeholders and vendors.

Innovative enterprise organizations are leveraging centralized Direct Marketing technology platforms which have been purpose-built to meet their data and information security protocols - typically for Fortune 500 and other enterprise environments, they are SAS70, SOC 2 and HIPAA. These platforms securely action customer, member and patient data within a single environment, enforce business rules and workflows, control access to protected and confidential information, and parse and allocate Direct Mail campaign data and assets to specific vendors and stakeholders as required. Additionally, these platforms log every internal and external user action, download, edit and approval for transparency and auditing, and Direct Mail content and delivery reporting can be produced on-demand at the campaign, individual or household level for reporting and compliance purposes.  

Looking to learn more about how Digital Transformation and Enterprise Direct Marketing automation platforms can ease collaboration, scale personalization, lower costs and improve Direct Marketing results? Feel free to view our eBook  The Drive to Digitize: How Marketing Automation is Transforming Direct Mail.

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