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On any given day, consumers receive a constant stream of messages. Whether it’s a bank statement in the morning post, an email notifying them of a retailer’s upcoming sale, or a tweet promoting a new offer, the nature of customer communications today means marketing departments are no longer limited to just one method of contact.
Physical mail still plays a large role in the world of marketing, however, over the last decade there has undoubtedly been a shift towards more digital channels. A challenge businesses face is that as the volume of incoming and outgoing data increases, and the number of channels proliferate, the harder it can be to manage marketing communications, while also remaining compliant.
One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is that it provides a much more direct route to the intended recipient. Unlike traditional post, which can take days and often requires the action of a third party to reach its destination, digital channels offer almost instant contact and interaction with an existing or potential customer. Not only does this enable queries to be resolved more efficiently, but it allows marketing teams to focus their time and resources more effectively on priority targets.
Incorporating digital into a marketing plan also represents an opportunity to save money. For example, it can significantly reduce storage and inventory costs. Hardcopies of marketing material have to be stored somewhere and, whether it’s in the office or off-site, it is space that has to be paid for. According to an AIIM survey, 13.5 percent of office space is taken up by document storage, a hugely substantial amount when considering increasing rent prices. Likewise, the cost of producing branded envelopes, letterheads, leaflets and brochures – material that can quickly become out-of-date before ever being used – is expenditure that can be removed when using digital substitutions.
The growing use of digital marketing also doesn’t just provide benefits for the marketer; it also gives the customer a choice in how they wish to be contacted. However, with a number of channels to choose from, it’s important that marketing teams are able to manage individual preferences effectively so that resources aren’t wasted and unwanted marketing material isn’t sent.
To ensure they can successfully implement a multi-channel marketing strategy, businesses need to have processes in place that automatically manage each channel so that they are all in sync. Organizations that rely on manual processes for customer communications increase the risk of errors that could result in sending marketing material to a customer that has opted out via the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or Mailing Preference Service (MPS) in the UK. While this can impact customer relations, organizations are often unaware that it can also result in substantial penalties. Indeed, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK has the power to issue fines of up to £500,000 if a company has broken a privacy data law. At a time of increasing customer intolerance to receiving unsolicited marketing materials, firms shouldn’t be burdening their marketing departments with the responsibility of manually screening large volumes of data.
Keeping records of all communications, whether digital or physical, should also be of high importance. In the case of an investigation by a regulator, such as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who is responsible for compliance with the MPS, it is essential that marketers can demonstrate that they were acting compliantly. Any failure to prove this can lead to substantial penalties.
Output Management Software (OMS) ensures all relevant digital communication is securely sent to the correct recipient. By automating the preparation and sending of materials, it removes the need for manual interaction and, subsequently, the opportunity for human error. Furthermore, as companies increasingly adopt multi-channel communication strategies, OMS can ensure both digital and physical channels are synced which prevents customers from receiving the same information in multiples formats.
Ultimately, digital communication will continue to play a prominent role in how marketers reach their audience. Indeed, its efficiency and cost effectiveness provide marketers with an ever-evolving channel. By managing all communication channels effectively, businesses will not only be able to benefit from a strong marketing strategy, but they will be able to do so without the worry of incurring any unexpected penalties.
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