[CORRECTION: Adding Makesbridge as another marketing automation company using Cloud2You.]
Marketing automation is often characterized by triggered responses such as an automatic email sent as a result of a Web interaction, download or request for information.
Now there's a new wrinkle in the trigger department: direct mail.
Marketing automation company Eloqua Corp. this month is introducing a triggered direct-mail option as part of its services suite. The feature adds a potent new dimension to customer communications, Elle Woulfe, Eloqua senior marketing programs manager, said.
“Our pilot test of this feature was a campaign for ourselves, targeting executives such as CEOs, CMOs and heads of sales,” Woulfe said. “They unsubscribe from emails at a pretty high rate; and I really wanted to have a direct-mail touch, so I thought I'd play around with it.”
Working with Fullerton, Calif., direct-mail house, Advanced Image Direct, Woulfe simply added a new trigger to Eloqua's platform. If one of her designated executives clicked through on an Eloqua email, it activated a customized direct-mail response to reinforce the message. The direct mail piece contained a personalized URL and QR code to further bridge the digital-analog divide.
If the executive did not visit his PURL, he or she received a triggered email. Other responses were set to deploy another direct-mail response. Tracking was included so, when the piece was delivered, it generated the next marketing step.
“Usually with direct mail it's very complicated, with a huge mail merge,” Woulfe said. “But this can be done completely on the fly with people who are engaging with you.”
Woulfe said triggered direct mail works well with executives and in certain industries, such as financial services, that have rigid firewalls blocking triggered email. It's also a possible icebreaker in re-engagement programs when repeated email messages are having no impact, she said.
One Eloqua customer gearing up for triggered direct mail is Citrix Online, which markets collaboration solutions GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar.
“The idea for us is to mix it in to make for a true multichannel campaign,” said T. Baxter Denney, manager-database marketing at Citrix Online. “It's to take people who have been unresponsive via another channel and engage [them] with direct mail. Everyone is inundated with email messages and millions of tweets a day. But the physical inbox is different. It gets attention.”
Denney said Citrix is planning to use triggered direct mail to re-engage with prospects that have shown some interest in the past.
“There are things you can do with print you can't do with email, such as providing more and different image options,” Denney said. “It might be totally effective or it might totally bomb out, but we think this is a viable option.”
Advanced Image Direct is itself a pioneer in this area. It first developed the concept with Sales-force.com to add triggered direct mail to the sales department's bag of tricks, for things like automated birthday greetings or thank-you cards following sales calls. He suggested something similar to Eloqua, and “Lights went on on both sides,” said Advanced Image Direct President Frank Verrill.
“The savvy marketer knows that print supports digital and vice versa,” Verrill said. “In our format, you can send cards, letters or sales brochures up to 24 pages. The minimum order: one.”
Simple cards and letters, based on templates and marketer customization, cost 99 cents. The list price for a sales sheet plus cover is $3 (less in a FedEx-like “rush letter”). Include a 24-page brochure and the price is $8. Contract prices, however, are less, Verrill said.
Advanced Image Direct also created a Web portal, Cloud2You (www.cloud2you.com), where customers can upload customized material with personalization fields and other variables, ready for mailing.
In addition to Eloqua and marketing automation company Makesbridge, Advanced Image Direct also works directly with companies such as Eastman Kodak Co. and Microsoft Corp., and can manage triggered direct mail regardless of the marketing or sales force automation platform being used, Verrill said.