In Marketing, as in Life, Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket

A successful investor on Wall Street is confident a hot stock is going to soar, so he throws everything into it. However, unaware that negative company news is about to hit, his entire investment is quickly wiped off the map. Just like that, he learns the hard way to diversify.

The same goes for marketing; no longer is a one-channel approach effective. Even businesses that have relied primarily on one channel for years—such as email marketing, social media, or blogging—have had to re-adjust their thinking and create a broader marketing strategy. That’s because customers expect to be able to interact with businesses through their favorite channels. In addition to providing what the customer wants, change is also a natural progression for innovative leaders in any space; in fact, it should be a welcome one. Accordingly, companies need to adopt multichannel marketing solutions.

According to a Zendesk survey, commissioned by Loudhouse, two-thirds of online shoppers said their purchases involved multiple channels in the last six months. Furthermore, 87 percent believe that companies need to put an emphasis on making the customer experience more seamless.

So how can businesses migrate to omni-channel customer service and sales strategies? To begin, they can look into collaborating with a one-stop shop marketing partner with expertise across a wide range of marketing channels. By teaming with an organization dedicated to providing customized marketing solutions, business can focus on their core competencies without worrying that customer experiences will suffer.

Here are some other reasons why omni-channel customer service is the way of today and the future:

Customers are Everywhere

Long gone are the days of customers simply sitting at home and ordering a product from a land line. People are now constantly on-the-go, purchasing from any Internet-connected device and reaching out to agents across a variety of mediums. Multichannel marketing solutions are necessary to reach customers as they traverse the globe and surf the Web.

Faster is Better

The more channels a customer can access, the quicker his or her inquiry/complaint will be solved. Faster is better for all customers, and if their experience is adversely affected because the company does not offer Web- or mobile-optimized channel capabilities, the consumer is more likely to head elsewhere (a.k.a your competitors).

Ready to broaden your strategy with a seamless customer experience? Click here to get started.

What the Experts Are Saying About Multichannel Marketing and Customer Service

We are now past the halfway point of 2014 and this year, in particular, I’ve gleaned a lot of valuable insight from customer service and marketing experts. Of course it’s impossible to share every salient point, but here’s a look at our top two choices:

Kate Leggett, customer service expert, Forrester

In 2014 and beyond, customer service professionals will work on better understanding the channel preference of their customer base, and guiding customers to the right channel based on their on the complexity and time-sensitivity of their inquiry.”– January 13, 2014 Forrester blog post

InfoCision’s take: Leggett placed “Customers Demand Omnichannel Service” at the top of her list of customer service trends to watch for in 2014—and I couldn’t agree more. Multichannel marketing solutions are no longer a luxury but a must-have for any business looking to distinguish itself by creating great customer relationships. Why? Because just as Leggett said, customers expect and demand a choice of channels—from live chat to video streaming to the good ole’ telephone. Best-in-class companies remain committed to being able to seamlessly address customer queries across the platforms of their choosing.

Roger Dooley, marketing and consumer behavior expert, Forbes

“If you are building a brand, you should certainly do the big things you need to get noticed and build a reputation. But, at the same time, look for the little things you can do to deliver repeated, small exposures to your brand. Even if your consumers don’t pay attention or even seem to notice, those impressions can have a measurable impact.”— March 12, 2014 Forbes article

InfoCision’s take: In his piece about unconscious branding, Dooley discusses the idea of taking small steps to reach big goals. I echoed his sentiments in a recent blog entry when I argued that contact centers should take small steps, like invest in customer analytics, rather than trying to change everything at once. This concept is perhaps no more true than in the SMB world, in which companies are operating with limited resources. Rome wasn’t built in a day and great marketing and customer success can’t either. Lay down one brick at a time—with a small step like reducing supervisor-to-agent ratio in the contact center—and before you know it, you’ll look up and see you’ve reached your goals.

Looking for some more compelling quotes? Then click here for exciting takeaways from the Interaction 2014 marketing summit!

A Halftime Recap for InfoCision in 2014

It’s difficult to believe we’ve already reached the halfway point of 2014. It seems like just last week that much of the country was buried under a continuous onslaught of snow, dreaming of warmer days ahead. Now that the more hospitable weather has finally arrived, I thought it would be a good time to recap what InfoCision, a leading provider of multichannel marketing solutions, has been thinking about and working on so far this year:

January

At the start of every year, many nonprofits look at the 12 months ahead and wonder how they will meet their budgets. Having worked with these kinds of organizations, InfoCision has the experience and expertise necessary to make marketing work for nonprofits. But we never rest on our laurels. We are always thinking about ways to make our marketing and customer service solutions more valuable for charitable organizations.

February

As winter raged, InfoCision got a taste of some warm weather at ITEXPO, TMC’s business technology event, in Miami. I sat down with TMC Rich Tehrani to chat about the importance of customizing a B2B marketing strategy for every client. We also spoke about the role data analytics and business intelligence plays in contact center customer service these days and the evolution of the customer experience.

March

We decided to do a little spring cleaning on this blog this past March, focusing more heavily on thought leadership within the strategic marketing community. In making this change we opened a conversation with clients, partners and any business looking to boost its marketing efforts. We look forward to continuing that conversation during the second half of 2014.

April

For the 21st consecutive year, InfoCision was awarded a Gold MVP award from TMC’s CUSTOMER Magazine. We are the only company to be honored every year since the award was created in 1993, and we don’t anticipate that streak ending any time soon.

May

At InfoCision we recognize the importance of happy employees. So this year, we created the Rise to the Challenge, offering prizes to our top performing agents during Easter holiday time. Our employees came through in a big way, as April became our best month for Hours Worked Average in company history. In May, InfoCision gave out $24,000 in prizes and other incentives.

June

InfoCision sponsored and attended the InterAction 2014 marketing summit in early June at The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing. During the event we heard wonderfully informative keynote addresses from Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata. We came away with a number of exciting takeaways we’ll continue to think about and discuss as the year continues.

During the second half of 2014 we’ll continue our efforts to provide our readers with unique marketing and customer service insights. We’ll also be pushing for more reader engagement on the blog, as we value your opinions and want to hear about the issues you are seeing out there in the business world. So thanks for reading—we’ll be talking with you soon!

What to Look for in a Multichannel Marketing Partner

So you’ve decided your marketing efforts need a serious boost. To get it, you need to team with a partner that offers multichannel marketing solutions. Now comes the tricky part: which partner do you choose? While every company has its unique needs, there are a few things you must ensure your partner can provide before you make your selection:

Years of experience in the marketing space

Let’s face it: a company doesn’t succeed for decades unless it can consistently provide valuable expertise. Marketing partners with longevity have refined their techniques over time, enabling them to offer your business the best chance at success.

Seasoned, professional Communicators

If you could speak to every customer individually you would, because then you’d know for sure your company’s message was being communicated exactly as you want. That is impossible of course, so the next best thing is to rely on Communicators with extensive work experience who receive rigorous and detailed company-specific training.

Analytics capabilities

Big data is all the rage for good reason. The volume of information being created by today’s technology is a gold mine for improving your company’s marketing efforts. But this is only possible if you can break that information down into chunks of actionable, impactful data for improving processes.

Robust direct mail solutions

Too often in today’s digital world, print mail gets overshadowed by email and social media marketing. Those channels are certainly important, but research from Digital Marketing Ramblings shows that 56 percent of customers still consider print the most trustworthy form of marketing. A true multichannel marketing partner doesn’t let any channel fall through the cracks, including direct mail.

Now that you know what to keep a close eye on you can make an educated choice about which partner can help you reach your marketing goals. Of course here at InfoCision, we do have a suggestion…

Stretching Nonprofit Resources with a Multichannel Marketing Partner

For nonprofit organizations, rarely a day goes by without worrying about resource allocation. In its most recent annual survey, the Nonprofit Finance Fund found that 56 percent of nonprofits were unable to meet demand for services in 2013—the highest number on record. Additionally, these organizations identified long-term financial stability as the greatest challenge they currently face.

The simple fact is that nonprofits rely heavily on donations and the combination of a sluggish economy, and increased competition makes those donor dollars more difficult to secure. In many cases, the natural reaction for these organizations is to make cuts to services, staff and a variety of other areas. It may seem prudent to reduce marketing budgets as well but, in fact, that tact is likely to do more harm than good.

For fundraising, the old adage that “you have to spend money to make money” is fitting. Sure, these organizations could save a few dollars here and there on donor outreach, but that strategy is penny wise and pound foolish, because the small savings upfront will cost the nonprofit significantly more down the line.

Let’s look at a real-world example. Say a nonprofit organization is gearing up for its annual gala dinner, its single biggest fundraising event of the year. In an effort to save cash it enlists volunteers to create and mail print invitations, craft email invites and make reminder phone calls to its donor base. All of the work gets done, but the invitations have an amateur feel and the volunteers making the outbound calls are not effective because they aren’t immersed in the organization’s mission statement and don’t have a script.

When the donations are tabulated in the days after the event, the organization finds that the total is five percent off from last year. Even factoring in the savings from using mostly volunteers, the event raised less than the year before, meaning the next 12 months will require even more fiscal belt-tightening.

Now imagine this same organization had partnered with a company offering multichannel marketing solutions. By making an upfront investment and outsourcing part of the planning, the nonprofit optimized its marketing efforts for the event. Instead of hastily designed, one-size-fits-all invitations it leveraged the partner’s print capabilities to create professional custom mailings. Rather than using volunteers with no outbound calling experience the organization had highly-trained Communicators read directly from a custom script it helped write.

In the aftermath of the event, the organization finds that it attracted more guests to the gala this year and raised significantly more money as a result. The cost of teaming with a marketing partner is more than offset and the next fiscal year looks a little brighter.

There is no shortage of other real-life examples of how a multichannel marketing partner can help boost a nonprofit’s operations, from adding Web self-service for donations to improving outreach with information gathered using business intelligence.

The bottom line is that most nonprofits need some assistance from time to time. A partner that truly understands the landscape can make the difference between a fiscally successful year and a difficult one. Which would your organization rather have?

The Evolution of Marketing: Living in a Multichannel World

For businesses that have been around for a while, thinking back to the marketing landscape 10, 20 or 40 years ago recalls a simpler time. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that only four television stations were broadcast, the Internet was used almost exclusively by the military and social media simply didn’t exist.

But as technology advances, older channels change—well over 1,000 television stations exist today—and new ones are created. The days where putting up a billboard or purchasing a short radio ad was sufficient are over and as marketing continues to evolve, businesses are left to take ongoing stock of their strategies.

Marketing is now a primary driver in getting customers to contact your company, but it often takes more than one channel to make that interaction happen. For example, a recent Zendesk survey found that 67 percent of online shoppers made purchases that involved multiple channels in the past six months.

Staying abreast of the latest trends and channels can be difficult, particularly if your marketing department is small and it is not part of your core competencies. But by partnering with an organization devoted to creating effective multichannel marketing solutions, you can boost customer engagement without devoting your own resources. A “one-stop shop” marketing partner can help you generate greater ROI from your:

  • Email campaigns
  • Print mailings
  • Outbound telemarketing
  • Inbound call center services
  • Web self-service
  • Social media campaigns

The marketing landscape has changed drastically in the last decade alone; staying on the leading edge sometimes requires a little outside help. When you partner with an industry leader you get the best in multichannel solutions that let you worry less about marketing and more about growing your business every day.

And that never gets old.

Telemarketing: It’s Time to Get Personal

Have you ever answered a phone call from an unfamiliar number, only to have the person on the other end mispronounce your name before pitching a product? Chances are your interest level dipped pretty quickly after that.

But have you listened recently to what your own agents sound like on outbound calls? Perhaps it’s eerily similar to the calls that have caused you to hang up yourself.

One of the most common reasons telemarketing calls fail is that they sound impersonal and are immediately perceived as a hassle. In today’s data-driven, tech-advanced business environment, simple “cold calling” is no longer a sound or effective strategy. To achieve success in telemarketing you need customized multichannel marketing solutions that maximize value for every outgoing call.

A strategic multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision serves as an extension of your own marketing department; by teaming up you’ll find that your campaigns get stronger than ever before. That’s because you’re empowered by the attentiveness and expertise of full-time marketing professionals, dedicated to helping you revolutionize your telemarketing strategy. We tap into our own consumer database to provide you with responsive leads. We also take a deep dive into your customers’ information to optimize each and every call.

Using business intelligence, we can provide granular insights into specifics like what days your customers are most likely to answer the phone and at what times they are most receptive to calls. We can also use business intelligence to build winning scripts tailored individually to your customers.

Recent research shows that 40 percent of marketers still believe telemarketing is the best vehicle for generating new leads. If your company’s core competencies don’t include telemarketing, you may unfortunately find it difficult to generate significant ROI from these campaigns. But with InfoCision standing behind you, your telemarketing strategy will be both personal—and profitable.

Click here to learn more about InfoCision’s unique telemarketing approach.

Cut Costs and Conserve Resources with a Multi-channel Marketing Partner

No matter how big your business or what industry you occupy, chances are you’re looking for a way to cut marketing and customer service-related costs. But it can be hard to lower expenses and conserve resources without compromising the quality of your day-to-day operations. It’s okay to admit that this might be a bit over your head—that’s where a multi-channel marketing partner comes into the picture.

Perhaps the most obvious way a marketing partner can help cut costs is by providing superior contact center training for Communicators. A full-service marketing partner provides company-specific training so that Communicators have a deep understanding of your organization’s core competencies before they answer a single call.

Logically, these representatives resolve problems faster than those without extensive experience because they have an in-depth knowledge of your products and services. On the flip side, when agents lack the requisite knowledge, first-call resolution rates drop. This forces companies to hire extra personnel to avoid long hold times for customers, resulting in extra expenditures.

A multi-channel partner can also help you avoid unnecessary print and mailing expenses. Although print marketing can get lost in today’s multi-channel environment, research from Digital Marketing Ramblings shows that 56 percent of customers still consider print the most trustworthy form of marketing.

By turning processes over to a full-service print center you can avoid wasting precious man hours printing materials and stuffing envelopes. You can also personalize printing for individual targets, maximizing effectiveness and reducing the need for future, costly mass mailings.

A multi-channel marketing partner can take the onus off of your company and cut costs in a variety of other areas as well. For example:

  • Business intelligence and data acquisition help improve customer insights and accurately predict consumer behavior
  • Website development services take the burden off your already busy IT team
  • Lead generation services help you focus only on promising prospects

In short, a partner that can provide multi-channel marketing solutions streamlines processes, cuts out wasted resources and lets you focus on mission-critical tasks. And after all, everybody needs a little help sometimes.