TransPromo Transforms Bills and Statements from a Cost Center to a Revenue Center
There is considerable buzz around the notion of “TransPromo” lately—the concept of customizing common transactional documents like bills, statements and other customer correspondence with personalized messaging aimed at wooing existing customers. Additionally, the proliferation of smart phones means that TransPromo can easily include QR codes that enable customers to immediately reply and act upon offers. Experts extol the virtues of this one-to-one marketing approach and tout the value of documents that capitalize on knowledge collected about customers. By including relevant and personalized marketing content, monthly statements can rise above the din of competitive messages and transform into a beneficial marketing vehicle.
TransPromo represents a unique marketing opportunity because transactional documents are the life blood of every organization. No matter the market or the industry, invoices, statements, confirmations and checks drive the business functions that make any business run. Indeed, transactional documents often represent the only touch point an organization really has with a customer. These documents are already paid for: paper, production costs and postage—TransPromo is therefore a very effective way to leverage this sunk cost. It only makes sense to take advantage of this opportunity to transform transactional documents from a cost center to a revenue center.
Despite the surge in online communications and social networking, research indicates the majority of customers prefer to receive marketing messages via their bills and statements as opposed to other channels like e-mail and direct mail advertising. Companies can benefit by revising the notion that transactional documents are solely a vehicle to get paid. Instead they should regard bills and statements as a vehicle to bolster revenue through a channel that customers trust and expect.
While direct mail has a place in trying to attract new customers, most marketers will tell you, direct mail and e-mail marketing performs poorly with existing customers when compared to TransPromo documents. It is possible to produce TransPromo documents that command dramatically improved customer response directly from the existing print stream, without having to go back to the original applications or programs and the systems on which they run. With new technologies available for whitespace management in the production shop, and for the customer with smart phones and other mobile devices, forward thinking organizations are taking advantage of more efficient ways to provide meaningful offers to their best customers.
Barriers to TransPromo
While the technology may exist to design and implement TransPromo documents, there are several barriers that can stand in the way of practical implementations. What are the factors to consider and what features should you look for in a potential solution that will allow you to overcome the obstacles and execute a meaningful TransPromo strategy?
There are many document composition solutions available on the market today, but for the most part in order to achieve true TransPromo functionality, they require a high level of technical support either from internal IT staff or from specialized technical consultants. Until recently, solutions in this space were too complicated and too burdensome to support. As a result, many organizations simply did not have the time or the resources needed to make TransPromo a reality. Some attempted to side step the technical support constraints by utilizing common pre-press or desktop tools like Quark or Microsoft Word, but the results are cumbersome and slow, and lack the sophisticated personalization and data mining capabilities needed to meet the needs of ongoing one-to-one marketing campaigns.
A new breed of TransPromo solutions have been developed that remove the requirements for advanced technical support. These more friendly and flexible products provide the capability to insert custom marketing messages in the empty, unused areas on the transactional documents – the whitespace - without the need for re-composition. In addition, they index customer information directly from the existing bills and statements, allowing organizations to target customers using the parameters contained in those documents. These include specific geographies, reward point thresholds, account balances, contracts nearing termination, or looking up one-to-one marketing information based upon an account number key.
Many organizations have hesitated to adopt a TransPromo strategy due to prohibitively expensive implementation costs, time to implement and disruption of existing production processes. Most enterprise solutions typically require several months to over a year to implement. Moreover, the costs and effort associated with reprogramming print applications to include specific marketing messages for specific customers is prohibitive, in many cases reaching into the millions of dollars. This is a roadblock for organizations actively striving to build an infrastructure designed for maximum flexibility to meet competitive offers head on, or to cross-sell and up-sell to existing customers. They simply cannot justify the expense and effort of a massive IT project. With most organizations rationalizing their projects in terms of payback (months) or ROI (%), lengthy and expensive TransPromo initiatives often will not make the cut.
But times have changed. Solutions are now available that significantly reduce these cost and time barriers. By working directly on the existing print streams, a TransPromo solution can be implemented in a matter of weeks and at a fraction of the cost traditional solutions carry. This enables organizations to execute upon a TransPromo strategy quickly and inexpensively without disrupting existing production processes and perhaps more importantly, without giving ground to the competition when considering time-to-market.
Ease of Use
A successful TransPromo strategy is not just about the technology. It is also about how to effectively use it to reach marketing goals. If systems are difficult to use and require constant technical support, the marketing vision is left in the hands of IT programmers who often lack the necessary design or marketing expertise to make a TransPromo strategy a success. This hands-off approach suffers from mismatched expectations in terms of document performance, project deliverables and progress milestones. Additionally, personnel reductions and competing need for technical support often put document systems initiatives at the bottom end of the IT to-do list.
From a customer perspective, it is also necessary that the offer be timely, relevant and valuable. The QR code is beginning to make its appearance in TransPromo solutions, and it is a sure-fire method of driving customers to personalized offers that they can easily understand and quickly accept, directly from their mobile devices.
Look for TransPromo solutions that are easy to use, and put personalization capabilities into the hands of marketing specialists with the expertise to maximize the benefits of TransPromo. When evaluating solutions, however, be cautious to not overwhelm users with more functionality than is really needed. Ease of system integration is another important consideration. It is important to have a solution that will work across heterogeneous system environments and not require costly and complex integration and support.
Thoughtful Integration with Customer Data
The paths between operations and marketing rarely cross. As a result, the biggest barrier to a meaningful TransPromo strategy is not the technology, but rather the different priorities and competing agendas found across an organization. The key to gaining real benefit with TransPromo is found in the processes and strategies. Without a holistic process-oriented approach to TransPromo companies often miss the mark. For example, marketing departments look to build revenue and ensure that customer experience is high while print/mail operations concentrate on keeping a lid on rising production costs and managing ever-tightening budgets. IT departments concentrate on the complexities of data processing while finance departments care about getting bills paid quickly to ensure positive cash flow and organizational profitability. This disconnect can quickly kill even the most well intended TransPromo initiative.
Disparate data systems and technological incompatibilities used to be the biggest barrier to optimizing the performance of transactional documents. By attending to the process overall, and not just the technology, companies can leverage the relationships between marketing, data and operations and turn transactional documents from a cost center to a revenue center. This means more than just putting variable messages on the page. Now, organizations have the ability to drive the right message to the right customer based on the data that already exists on the customer document itself and/or in your CRM system. In keeping with the intent of TransPromo, this means delivering meaningful and valuable information and offers to customers. As the number of tech-savvy customers with smart phones grows, it also means using QR codes to drive them directly to highly relevant offers on personalized web pages.
If you have looked at TransPromo in the past and found the approach to be too costly and complex, now is the time to think again. As the potential for additional revenue generation increases, re-evaluating the available technologies and options becomes more vital to company performance. In today’s economically challenging business environment, every company must do more with less, and TransPromo documents give you a way to effectively market your company even when your advertising budget has been slashed. After all, you are already paying for the creation, production and delivery of your monthly statements, bills and other transactional documents, why not take full advantage of this existing investment to drive incremental revenues?
By Martin Gelb
About the Author
Martin has over 15 years of global marketing and business development experience with business software and services. Martin has served in a range of market-focused positions at Amdocs and Verizon Information Services, where he provided strategic corporate marketing direction and delivered a range of product management, product marketing, marketing communications, channel marketing and business development programs for bill production and other related systems. As CrawfordTech's Marketing Director, Martin is responsible for leading the global corporate and product marketing charge.
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