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Name dropping

Jan 1, 2007 12:00 AM


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GlobalCerts (Bedford, NH) develops e-mail encryption products. Financial institutions, healthcare facilities and government agencies around the world use the company’s flagship product, SecureMail Gateway, to communicate with customers and business partners. A typical installation generally costs $250,000.

In 2006, working with a local designer, GlobalCerts attempted a modest direct mail program. After purchasing a general business mailing list, the company teamed with the designer to create and mail 1,500 postcards promoting SecureMail Gateway. Not a single person responded.

“The designer didn’t have any domain experience or market knowledge,” recalled GlobalCerts CEO Roland Gerard. “But he did have a Mac.”

How about a cross-media campaign?
Gerard considered hiring an outside marketing agency, an idea he dismissed after hearing a pitch from Bob Pease. Pease is vice president of sales and marketing for Landmark Impressions, a Woburn, MA-based company that has transitioned from quick printer to full-service marketing solutions provider in recent years. Services include variable-data printing, mailing services and personalized URLs with campaign response tracking.

GlobalCerts was a long-time print customer of Landmark, but Gerard wasn’t familiar with the company’s expanded offerings. Pease outlined an integrated cross-media campaign that would generate qualified leads as well as market intelligence. It was an ambitious plan, but one that had great potential for swift ROI: Even if it only resulted in one sale for GlobalCerts, the expense would be more than justified.

One tool does it all
The new direct mail strategy was conceived and executed using MindFireInc’s LookWho’sClicking, Web-based software that simplifies the creation, management and tracking of personalized URLs (PURLs) and VIP landing pages. The all-in-one tool helps users create product awareness, generate leads, research markets and test campaigns.

Working with Landmark, GlobalCerts identified its objectives:

  • Generate leads within four key vertical segments.
  • Test specific product features/campaign designs.
  • Obtain market intelligence—gather and confirm information from prospects via a questionnaire.
  • Lower cost of customer acquisition by generating stronger leads and achieving higher conversion rates.
Mailing segments & designs
Simple ROI Com-
pliance
Security Total Titles
Total 1,896 1,888 3,577 1,888 9,249
Healthcare 614 612 1,770 612 3,608 3
Financial 250 248 769 248 1,515 4
Government 470 468 470 468 1,876 4
E-Business 562 560 568 560 2,250 4
GlobalCerts tested four different mailpiece designs in a campaign sent to four key vertical sectors. The ROI design got the highest response rate.

Specialized mailing lists
Rather than using a general business list, Pease contacted AccuData (www.accudata.com) and SKM Data for specialized lists. GlobalCerts concentrated on 9,249 prospects in healthcare, finance, government and e-business. Healthcare segment titles included chief information officer (CIO), risk management director and chief privacy officer. The target audience for e-business and financial categories also included CIOs as well as data processing managers, IT/Internet support and operations manager.

Each prospect belonged to an organization ranging from 100 to 1,000 employees. Within this group, GlobalCert tested four separate designs, each highlighting a different product feature: simplicity, ROI, compliance or security. The landing pages also collected information that would allow GlobalCerts to confirm each prospect’s needs, buying cycle, decisionmakers and contact information.

A compelling offer
Because the campaign’s target audience is subjected to a steady barrage of direct mail, GlobalCert had to do something to stand out from the crowd. Its offer had to be relevant, complementary to the campaign’s theme, and valuable enough to evoke a response. Pease and his client determined that a USB Mobile Security Stick had a good chance of getting recipients’ attention and enticing them to participate.

Going with the flow
Unlike the prior postcard campaign, the cross-media project incorporated a carefully thought out “flow,” one that would help the client measure response as well as build its market knowledge. Here’s how it worked.

The mail piece directed recipients to a series of VIP landing pages. The first stop was a “Welcome” page (with e-mail capture and password) customized with the person’s name. Next, recipients were directed to a questionnaire page, followed by a “confirm contact info” page and, finally, a “thank-you” page.

On the client side, the program ensured each respondent got a “thank-you” e-mail from GlobalCerts, and it routed leads to the appropriate GlobalCerts salesperson for immediate followup.

The results are in
Out of 9,249 pieces sent, 83 executives visited the welcome page. Sixty of these respondents completed the survey for a response rate of 0.90 percent and 0.65 percent for survey completion.

Sample landing page question and results
Which e-mail functions are most important to your company
Security 48 (80.00%)
Compliance 38 (63.33%)
Simplicity 32 (53.33%)
ROI 15 (25.00%)
Results
Design/Feature Sent Response Completed
Simplicity 1,896 21 (1.11%) 9 (0.4%)
ROI 1,888 22 (1.17%) 21 (1.11%)
Security 1,888 16 (0.85%) 10 (0.53%)
Compliance 3,577 24 (0.67%) 20 (0.56%)
9,249 83 (0.90%) 60 (0.65%)
A questionnaire landing page helped GlobalCerts expand its customer knowledge. The company learned, for example, that although the ROI design had the best response rate, customers indicated security, compliance and simplicity were higher priorities.

In addition to visits to the PURLs, GlobalCerts saw an increase in traffic to its corporate Web site, as well as a higher volume of inbound telephone calls, resulting in an additional 15 to 20 qualified leads.

Of the 60 people who completed the questionnaire, 15 expressed immediate interest in seeing a demo and an additional five provided the name and contact information of their firms’ decisionmakers.

The campaign was a great success. GlobalCerts generally converts 15 percent of prospects who say they will evaluate the product. According to the survey, 35 respondents said they were currently planning to implement or upgrade their e-mail security product. At a 15 percent conversion rate, the company anticipates five or six new installations.

GlobalCerts also can follow up with the additional 23 responders who only visited the welcome page. “We know these individuals got the piece, opened it and came online. Now we can recapture them via a warmer phone call or future campaign,” explains Pease.

Sarah Modigliani, GlobalCerts’ channel sales manager, interacted with many of the respondents as soon as they came off the landing page series. She calls the campaign, “A refreshing change. The quality of the leads is far superior to what we’ve seen in the past. The questionnaire results were a great help going into sales calls, too, because we can quickly divide and prioritize the leads. It was clear who to [contact] first.”

What’s next
Based on the success of this first campaign, Landmark and GlobalCerts already are planning subsequent campaigns as well as recommending the marketing program to GlobalCerts’ channel partners.

Using the response and questionnaire data along with live feedback, GlobalCerts and Landmark identified some potential improvements. Changes include:

  • Reducing the number of designs from four to two.
  • Placing the PURL on the outside of the invitation as well as the inside so it is immediately visible without having to open the card.
  • Putting the offer on both sides of the invitation.
  • Eliminating some of the offer limitations.
  • Trying a multitouch campaign including embedding the PURL in an e-mail (MindFireInc’s LookWho’sClicking also sends e-mail for no additional cost).
  • Increasing the campaign size and frequency.
The last word
“We have a much more iterative process that we can take forward,” says Gerard. “We were able to test messages at the granular level and see how each prospect perceived the piece. This type of program let us [take] the pulse of what’s happening in the market.”

About Landmark Impressions
Landmark Impressions was founded in 1981 as a quick print shop. In 2005, Landmark reinvented itself as a marketing solutions provider. In 2006, the company consolidated to one manufacturing operation in Woburn, MA, and completed its digital transformation by adding Internet and mailing capabilities to its offset and digital printing mix. The 11-employee operation generates almost $2 million in annual revenue. See www.landmarkimpressions.com.



About MindFireInc
Founded in 1999, MindFireInc is a privately held company with offices in California and Asia-Pacific. Its flagship product, LookWho’sClicking, is a Web-based application suite that automates the creation, management and tracking of personalized URLs (PURLs) and VIP landing pages. The company delivers LookWho’sClicking through a network of solution partners, typically print service providers, agencies and consultants. See www.mindfireinc.com.



Just the FAQs
What is a personalized URL?

A personalized URL (PURL) is a Web address for capturing online response to direct mail. A personalized URL consists of two parts: the direct mail recipient’s first and last name and a campaign-specific domain name. For example: www.JohnSample.MyOffer.com.

What about duplicate names such as John Smith?
There are three ways to handle duplicate names:

  1. Create unique URLs such as JohnSmith77.MyOffer.com.
  2. Use unique passwords or offer codes on the welcome page.
  3. Employ welcome page versioning based on a rule such as IF duplicate URL, then present an alternate welcome page. This page asks each John Smith to enter additional information, which the software uses to identify an individual’s database record.
Does the PURL have to include www?
No.

Some personalized URLs have the recipient’s name at the end of the campaign URL (www.myoffer.com/johnsample). Which placement works best?
Different software companies use different taxonomies. These questions can help you determine your preference: How will the PURL look on the printed piece? What format is easiest for the respondent to recall? Which format has the greatest likelihood of inducing responders to complete their personalized URL entry (without leaving out any important information)?

What are the benefits of using a personalized URL and landing page series vs. a standard corporate URL and Web site?
Corporate Web sites have no direct mail tracking ability and generally are designed to present information rather than generate leads. They often have multiple competing messages unrelated to a specific direct mail campaign.

How personalized can I make the online experience using VIP landing pages?
There are two levels of personalization. The first is based on information you know about the recipient before he or she comes online (for example, information from mail file records and specific database segments). The second is based on what you learn about the respondent as he or she travels through the landing page series. The respondent’s answers to a questionnaire page, for example, can then drive content on subsequent pages.

Are personalized URLs and landing pages expensive?
No. They can be added to any direct mail campaign for pennies per record.

How big are campaigns that use PURLS?
Campaigns can be of any size, from a highly-targeted B2B campaign of a few dozen pieces, to a large business to consumer campaign of several million pieces or larger.

What skill set is required to generate personalized URLs and build VIP landing pages?
Basis skills include intermediate Microsoft Word and Excel, and image editing. More advanced skills such as HTML and an understanding of web design and direct marketing principles are helpful, but not required.


Elias Terman is vice president of business development for MindFireInc. Contact him at eterman@ mindfireinc.com or (858) 405-8910.