Time to Start Planning Your 2015 Marketing Strategy

As Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the sprint to the end of the year approach, the impulse to delay planning your 2015 marketing strategy is certainly understandable. Until the calendar flips, every department at your company is going to be in overdrive dealing with customers. At the same time, with many off your own employees taking time off, your personnel resources will be stretched to the limit.

As difficult as it may seem, to get 2015 off on the right foot you need to start developing your marketing plan now. If you go into January unprepared you’ll be scrambling to put an effective strategy together, which may cause you to rush through the important planning phase and also hurt your Q1 revenue. If your intent is to add new channels to your marketing efforts next year, getting started early is even more critical as expanding your reach will take careful strategizing.

So, how can your marketing department do all of this on its own? Well, the answer is that it doesn’t have to. A multichannel marketing partner can help you increase your capacity during the holidays by providing experienced, professional Communicators in your contact center that help boost your inbound and outbound marketing efforts and free your internal team up for strategic development. InfoCision’s contact center services can assist your company in:

  • Enhancing customer service
  • Improving retention and acquisition rates
  • Increasing upselling and cross-selling efforts

InfoCision stands ready to assist your internal team with the planning phase to help you execute multichannel marketing in 2015. Whether you need to more effectively target customers through direct mail, improve your website design or enhance your social presence, InfoCision has the multichannel marketing solutions that can help you kick off a great 2015 starting on January 1st.

Doesn’t that sound like a happy New Year?

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

If an Offer Doesn’t Reach Your Customers, Does it Make a Sound?

We’ve all heard the philosophical question asked: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

That debate will probably go on forever. But as we reach the home stretch of 2014, InfoCision would like to pose a different question: If you put together a special holiday offer for your customers but it never reaches them, can it make an impact? That question, of course, is far easier to answer—of course not.

After your sales and promotions teams work so hard to put together special holiday packages for your customers, you need to ensure all that planning doesn’t go to waste. At the same time, reaching customers is notably more complicated than it was years ago, as there are far more channels available than ever before and consumers expect companies to contact them through their preferred medium.

If you’re concerned your holiday promotions could fall on deaf ears, it may be wise to team with a company that specializes in providing multichannel marketing solutions, delivering the right service/message to the right customer at the right time. InfoCision, for example, has occupied the marketing space for 30 years and helped countless organizations reach new customers and grow their businesses. We are committed to staying up with all the latest trends and most effective marketing technologies. As a result, we can help you reach customers via:

  • Inbound and outbound telemarketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Direct mail

If you are putting in the time to come up with promotions that offer real value, you want to make sure your efforts make some noise. In other words, rather than falling in an empty forest, you need solutions that drop your multichannel marketing right in your customers’ laps.

If you’re interested in learning more about how InfoCision’s industry-leading services can help you expand your reach, click here for additional information.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Harvest a New Crop of Customers This Fall

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

 

The cold weather is slowly but surely starting to roll in, which means farmers and gardeners everywhere will soon be gathering their fall crops. But you don’t have to grow wheat or vegetables to reap a big return this year. By employing the most up-to-date multichannel marketing solutions, you can bring in a new crop of customers this year—and that’s pretty exciting for any business leader.

 

If you’ve been executing you marketing campaigns strictly over the phone, it’s time to update your tactics because you are likely missing out on a wealth of business opportunities. As evidence, consider that a recent Zendesk survey found that 67 percent of online shoppers made purchases that involved multiple channels in the past six months. Today’s consumers expect to be contacted on their preferred channel; if you aren’t living on those channels, many prospects are unlikely to engage with or buy from you. In fact, they may not even know you exist.

 

For some organizations, however, the thought of simultaneously managing direct mail, email, Web chat, phone, social media and other communications may be thoroughly overwhelming. For those businesses, teaming with a multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision is a great idea.

 

At InfoCision, we provide businesses with everything from print mail campaigns to social media management and offer all the most current, effective tools to help you generate more leads and make more sales. For example, our business intelligence offerings can help your company gain greater insight into customer and prospect behaviors and preferences so you know what channels they are likely to prefer.

 

For farmers, having the right tools is essential for a successful harvest. Multichannel marketing is no different; if you’re hoping to bring in a large customer crop from the business fields this fall, a partner like InfoCision can go a long way toward helping you reach that goal.

Moving Beyond Your Trusty Customer Base

Customer loyalty is the ultimate sign of a great company. Consumers that continue to do business with you—especially with so many competitors constantly entering every sector—don’t just like your product or service: they trust it, which is an even bigger accomplishment.

The problem with a loyal customer base that isn’t growing, however, is that it will shrink over time, regardless of what you do. Some people will move away, others simply won’t require your product or service anymore; as customers begin to trickle away, the dent in your bottom line grows deeper.

Staying viable for the long term requires you to bring in new prospects, particularly younger consumers that can stay with you for years, even decades. Of course, that is easier said than done, which is where a partner that can help you implement multichannel marketing solutions can be invaluable.

Outsourcing some of your marketing to a partner that offers years of experience and top-of-the-line technology can help you expand beyond the consumers who already know and love you. A company like InfoCision, for example, can help you market more personally to those demographics that you covet with tools like:

  • Customer Profiles created using data from consumers who take specific actions (like making a purchase or responding to a promotional email) to determine what offerings may pique consumers’ interests in the future. Or, you can gain insight into their preferred channel for future contact.
  • Grouping them together based on shared attributes, a tactic called market segmentation. By targeting the right people, your organization can increase cost efficiency and drive response.
  • Tailoring your marketing script or message to different groups of people with different needs, wants, interests, etc. For example, you can create a different message—for the same product or service—for a 22-year-old recent college graduate than for a 55-year-old professional.

Building a loyal customer fan base is often the hardest part of running a business, and the good news is that you’ve already done that! Now with a little help from a marketing partner, you can ensure success far into the future.

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!

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.

Three Tips for Nonprofits to Open the Donor Floodgates

Anyone who has worked at a Nonprofit understands the anxiety-inducing process of searching for funding. It’s not uncommon to see even a fairly large organization’s development department made up of just a handful of people tasked with bringing in millions of dollars every year to continue their mission.

One of the biggest obstacles to fundraising is donor fatigue—no matter how wonderful your cause and how dedicated your supporters, bringing in new donors is always at a premium. With that in mind, here are a few of the most effective ways Nonprofits can expand their constituencies, establish meaningful connections and make a lasting impact:

1.       Marry Demographic Data with Multichannel Marketing Solutions

Chances are a 70-year-old prospect and a 28-year-old potential donor will prefer getting information in different ways. But as a younger generation gives rise—one where laptops and smartphones are the norm—newer channels are inevitably becoming an important part of fundraising and donor management. In fact, according to the 2013 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report, online charitable giving grew 13.5 percent in 2013, far outpacing overall growth of 4.9 percent. Therefore, organizations need to target demographic groups through many different channels—from traditional outbound telephone calls to social media—in whichever way their data suggests will be most effective. In many cases the most effective way to collect and analyze that data may be by partnering with a strategic multichannel partner.

2.       Take a Personal Approach

People want to feel a personal connection to an organization when donating to a cause they feel particularly passionately about. Think about what has prompted you to click the “donate” button. In fact, 50 percent of donors say that a personalized “thank you” is more meaningful to them than a fast one. But if you have 500 notes to send to 500 different people at the end of a major campaign, the idea of customizing each one can seem unbelievably daunting. Nonprofits without this time or manpower can thankfully partner with companies that offer mail and print solutions designed specifically for this scenario, helping give your campaign that necessary personalized touch that inspires change and sets a great precedent.

3.       Go Beyond the “Ask”

Whether reaching out to existing donors or new prospects, Nonprofits should mix in fresh forms of content with donation requests. This way, supporters stay engaged in the organization’s work and don’t feel as though they are only being contacted for money. Recent research shows that 63 percent of donors want to know their donations are well spent, so feel-good stories, yearly or monthly recaps and general updates are always welcome. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for money—that is how Nonprofits stay afloat and continue to do great work. But nobody likes the feeling of only being pressed for cash, no matter who is asking.

For more information about solutions InfoCision can provide your Nonprofit, click here.