Today, Tomorrow and the Future
Welcome back to part 2 of our series, 9 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Sales and Marketing.
In our last installment, we touched on a shift to digital, an increased emphasis put on relationships, a move to remote selling and a switch to purely virtual events and conferences.
In part 2 of this series we’ll start to discover how COVID-19 is changing our lives today, and what impact that may have on tomorrow.
5. We’re Doing More with Less
Doing more with less isn’t uncommon, but lately we’ve all been stretched a bit more than usual, particularly the members of marketing and sales teams. With widespread layoffs and reduced staff becoming the norm (though that’s beginning to bounce back), we’ve been expected to pull double duty and cover responsibilities that may not have otherwise been delegated to us.
This means that we’re expected to cover multiple bases — like the development of new advertising, the shift to more digital-centric models, as well as maintaining current customer relationships — that would have previously been handled by a whole team. Enter marketing automation, wash and repeat processes, and the increased use of marketing technology.
6. Video Continues to Rise
Anyone who’s been watching what Zoom (ZM) has been doing knows that video continues to be crucial in helping businesses cope with the new realities of the pandemic — namely social distancing.
While we’ve touched on the idea of video in our previous installment, it’s hard to understate the importance of video capabilities in our new normal, particularly when it comes to sales.
This is a time to double down on your personalized marketing efforts, incorporating a video stand in for what might be a meeting or email. Sending a piece of direct mail, like a dimensional mailer with a video component, is a great way to use video to move forward as we deal with the effect of COVID-19 on our ability to meet face to face.
7. We’re Switching Focus to Omnichannel Marketing and Loyalty
In one of our recent pieces, we pointed out the strengths of an omnichannel, multitouch marketing strategy. This type of marketing is making more on an impact now than ever before, and will continue to thrive as new customers enter the market every day in search for new services.
However, this search for new and better services is a double-edged sword — while it brings with it the opportunity to attract new customers, it also puts us in a position to lose loyal customers as they open themselves to the idea of new services elsewhere.
But there’s a way to capitalize on both scenarios – focus on the opportunity to gain new customers with engaging omnichannel campaigns, while not losing sight of your loyal customers needs in the now.
8. We’re Looking for Alternative Ways to Gather Information and Make Connections
We’ve started to get better at finding new ways to make connections in the wake of COVID – mostly out of necessity. Being that so many people are looking for alternative solutions and forms of communication, we’re also beginning to streamline them in an effort to find what works and what doesn’t.
We’ve noticed this in the increased usage of things like chatbots as well as online scheduling and other self-service platforms, like stock tracing and order tracking. And, at the same time we’ve also seen it in the way we interact on social platforms — LinkedIn recently reported a 55% increase in engagement between connections.
9. E-commerce is Accelerating
We knew the average consumer was trending towards a preference, or at least acceptance, of largely digital interactions making up a significant chunk of their day to day purchases. That’s nothing new.
But COVID-19 threw gas all over that fire — with the temporary closing of most brick and mortars, we experienced a massive shift towards e-commerce by necessity.
And for an example, we need to look no further than what retail giant Amazon has been doing. Despite, the pandemic, Amazon has been thriving and is set to become the biggest US industrial distributor by 2021.
As you know, COVID-19 has done a lot of damage, plain and simple. But in light of that damage, the pandemic has instigated a shift towards net-positive trends in business and how we operate.
One thing is for absolute certain — now more than ever, we’re all looking towards the future.
Looking to see how Strata can help you evolve during and after COVID-19? Contact us to see how we can help you make smart happen every day.
Navigating a New Normal…LOL
Do we really need to begin an article with another paragraph about how COVID has changed how we do business?
Jokes aside, we actually do, because what’s happening now, will only tell what the future holds for many industries.
An often less explored element of our new “normal” has been COVID’s impact on marketing. To that end, we’ve created a two-part mini-series, 9 Ways Covid-19 Has Changed Sales and Marketing. This article will dive into the first four.
1. Shifting to Digital Everything
Let’s start with the obvious — things are getting way digital. Where a personal touch was once valued, we’re now avoiding touching anything and will likely continue to avoid personal contact for the foreseeable future.
As a result, when it comes to both sales and marketing, companies are making the obvious move to invest heavily in digital resources for consumers, as well as digital interface between consumers and sales. As marketing gurus, we always knew tech was important, but COIVD has given us the opportunity to narrow down the digital tech deemed essential. Zoom, for example, was a platform many of us used sparingly on the 30-minute trial basis and probably took for granted – but not anymore. Instead, COVID has opened our eyes to the huge role tech plays in this industry and what’s really working and what was an undelivered tech promise. Much like the practicality of remote work, it’s unclear how much of this will remain after COVID is under control, but digital everything is part of our DNA now whether we like it or not.
2. Reinforcing the Importance of Relationships
Just because many businesses are focusing on an accelerated shift towards digital resources, it doesn’t mean that we want our customers interfacing with some robot workforce.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
When it comes to what we value during times like these, businesses lean into their relationships to get them through, and we know that customers do the same. Trusting the solutions/products they utilize is what they rely on most during touch-and-go times. This is where personalization, interactive content, and omnichannel campaigns can come in to save the day. It’s all about putting a heavy emphasis on relationships – even from afar.
3. Moving Towards Remote Selling
There’s no more perfect intersection of points one and two than a shift towards remote selling. Remote selling relies on digital to get the job done, while making sure we don’t lose sight of the personal connectedness that allows us to make the sale.
This will lead many of us to overhaul our idea of sales, focusing on an almost entirely digital platform, at least for the time being. This means a focus on hard and soft digital skills, as well as defining new standardized systems and protocols that can be scaled up for the long term. With pressures high, it’s important we all put our thinking caps on, put the client first, and not push our agendas on them. After all, you’re selling motive is to help clients to succeed.
4. Switching to Virtual Events and Conferences
Noting back to Zoom, at this point it’s almost impossible to say you haven’t participated in some sort of online meeting or conference. That has definitely become part of the new normal and may continue in the future as a more cost-effective alternative.
We’ve already seen well attended webinars, but this mass beta test we’re collectively participating in is unprecedented and will result in the accelerated adaptation of these types of events — and their scale — going forward.
Stay tuned for the second installment of this series dropping next week, where we get into five more ways in which COVID is changing the sales and marketing world as we know it. In the meantime, contact us to learn more or checkout StrataBytes for more great marketing content.
How COVID-19 Has Brought New Life to a Long-lost Tactic
We spend a lot of time thinking about the landscape of marketing, what the future holds and how we can be early adapters today. Perhaps one of the most interesting — and strangely divisive — ways our physical and digital worlds intersect is through the humble QR code.
The Creation of the QR code
A little history: QR (quick response) codes were invented by Japanese firm Densa Wave in the mid-nineties as a more functional alternative to barcodes. From there, the decision was made to make the technology public, recognizing their potential.
So, what happened?
Initially, they were a victim of their time. Despite the obvious utility, the technology just wasn’t there when it came to the rudimentary smartphones of the 2010s (think about it – it wasn’t that long ago that we were terrified of accidently hitting the internet button on our phones). Slow mobile internet speeds and a lack of integrated software made their use difficult. So, like many other truly advanced technologies, QR codes went unappreciated (except in certain factory settings) and faded into obscurity despite all their potential.
A Pandemic and a Renewed Interest
Until recently, it seemed as if that’s where the story of the QR would end — a substitute for the barcode we use occasionally at Whole Foods. But as anyone who’s left their house in the last six months can confirm, something strange is happening to QR codes.
They’re suddenly everywhere.
From touchless payment to restaurant menus, the QR code (now with sufficient integrated technology in every smartphone to support it) has made a major resurgence in a time where we’re afraid to touch anything.
The Future of QR Codes
To paraphrase, a recent article from pymnts.com (you can read it here) aptly describes QR codes as “a solution in search of a problem” — and it’s probably safe to say that a pandemic certainly qualifies as a “problem”. But, just like the creator of the QR code all the way back in 1994, we’re finally seeing the full potential, particularly in the world of digital wallets and touchless payment.
One of the main ways QR codes will continue to be an integral part of our day-to-day going forward is through the “pay by app” model of business where many individual merchants and most major chains have their own apps allowing QR code-based payments.
If that’s not a glow-up for the QR code, we don’t know what is.
QR Codes in Marketing
The rebirth of the QR code comes with the promise of exciting new ways to continue using the technology. By now, most marketers recognize the renewed potential of QR codes, even in a post-COVID future.
For us at Strata, the use of QR codes is the continuation of a trend we’ve recognized for some time, only having been accelerated — not created — by the pandemic. We’ve been generating and incorporating QR codes into our marketing campaigns as we’ve kept a finger on the pulse of marketing technology. They’re a great way to merge print and digital, and we’ve used them in our direct and dimensional mailers, as well as other collateral like brochures and business cards. So, while it’s been a long-time coming, it’s finally safe to say that the possibilities for QR codes are truly endless.
Are you interested in working with a guiding hand that can help you incorporate QR codes into your marketing materials? Contact us to get started.
Omnichannel Campaigns + Interactive Content
While reading has its benefits, I’m sure we can all admit that it’s easy to get bored and distracted when you’re just passively skimming something. And sure, “content is king”, but everyone is publishing content these days, so how exactly can you stand out in a sea of blogs titled “The Best Blah Blah Blah” and keep readers engaged? Interactive content!
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, interactive content is exactly what it sounds like – it’s any form of content that can be interacted with by a website visitor or user. Think quizzes, calculators, and infographics – they’re all types of interactive content. And, creating these unique experiences can give you the opportunity to convey your value to your audience and encourage more engagement.
A Rundown on Interactive Content
Since we all seem to have the attention span of a squirrel these days, interactive content is the superhero here to save the day. What makes the concept even better, is that you can take any approach you want with it. The options are truly endless, but to put a picture to the face, here’s a rundown:
- Quizzes offer a unique opportunity to both educate and engage your audience while giving you valuable data in return. Whether you do a career quiz, personality quiz, or a brain health assessment quiz, your audience will be much more intrigued and you’ll be able to grab info without even asking for it.
- No matter if your audience is looking to buy, save, or reach a goal, calculators offer a helping hand and ensure trust when it comes to a final decision that needs to be made.
- Infographics give you the ability to provide key data and stats in a digestible, meaningful way. At the end of the day, who wants to read a whitepaper when you can look at a pretty picture.
Finding the Time & Place
While there are numerous benefits that come with interactive content, it’s important to not overkill your platforms with it. There’s a time and place for it and finding that happy medium will benefit you more in the long run. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider when incorporating interactive content into your strategy.
- Figure out what your interactive content goal is. Do you want higher engagement rates, looking to capture more relevant data, or increase brand loyalty?
- Narrow down which style of interactive content will give the best results and help you reach your goals.
- Decide where your content will be distributed. Will you get the most engagement from emails, landing pages, digital ads, etc.?
- Execute your interactive content strategy and modify it as you see fit.
Duo of The Year
Aside from all the points made earlier, there’s still one key component of interactive content that will maximize ROI and user experience in the long run – omnichannel marketing. To put it simply, an omnichannel marketing campaign has one goal in mind — constant contact and engagement with your targets and reaching customers in ways they want to be engaged. Now tie the concept of interactive content and omnichannel marketing together, and you have the perfect combo! Imagine all the opportunities that can come along with these two very customizable concepts.
Looking into The Future
With things like VR, AR, and many other futuristic concepts progressing rapidly, one can only imagine where we’ll be in the next 5 to 10 years when we interact with our audience from afar. Already, 70% of marketers are creating more interactive content today compared to a year ago and 90% of consumers agreed they wanted to see more interactive content in their communications. It’s exciting to see how much it’s already evolved and we can’t wait to see where it will go.
Are you finding yourself as intrigued as we are and looking to incorporate interactive content in your next omnichannel campaign? Contact us today and learn more about our capabilities.
A Multitouch Approach for New Movers
In a world so dependent on making a first and lasting impression (before the competition), marketers have started to rely on an omnichannel approach to get the attention of new movers.
But not all omnichannel strategies are created equal. A good approach has to include:
- Direct mail offerings with multiple touchpoints and response mechanisms, like BRCs, eBRCs, and PURLs that lead to personalized landing pages
- Digital ads targeting new movers via geofencing and floodlight technology
- Email campaigns as both outreach and follow-up
It’s nothing mind blowing, but when done correctly, it can make a big impact. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a Healthcare network that we’ll call Health X and see how a multitouch, omnichannel campaign helped them successfully target and convert new movers.
Health X’s Multitouch, Omni-Channel New Mover Campaign
We’ve run recurring campaigns for Health X since 2015, including a multitouch direct mail component. Over the last five years, we’ve noticed that a second mailer (T2) received roughly an equivalent response rate when compared to the first mailer (T1).
Essentially, this means that T2 effectively doubled response rates as opposed to a campaign featuring a single mailer. Not only that, but T2 outperformed our original benchmark and in some cases, outperformed T1. This is a great example as to why multitouch marketing is so important in a complete campaign.
But where does this fit into our omnichannel marketing strategy? Via a digital component.
In both of our T1 and T2 mailers, we gave the recipients two options for their response — a conventional business reply card (BRC) and an eBRC. On average, we received about 15% of our responses via eBRCs, bolstering our total response rate when compared to BRCs alone.
And, as our results continue to surpass benchmarks year after year, we’ve been looking at new ways to get better results, like the addition of more digital ads and PURLs as consumer preferences continue to trend towards the digital.
Customize Your Campaign
This is what’s so great about an omnichannel campaign — you can add and subtract campaign elements as you see fit. Whatever your needs are, you can customize an omnichannel campaign to those needs and your budget.
So, what are you waiting for?
If you’re interested in creating a custom built, omnichannel campaign for customer acquisition, contact us to see what Strata can do for you.
A Brief Introduction
Let’s take a step back into the old days: your marketing team comes up with a campaign, they drop it on a single platform, send a direct mailer or blast an email, and then wait for a response to follow up on. One-touch campaigns like these were common — and wildly inefficient.
We know these one-touch strategies are a thing of the past because the future (and present) is all about omnichannel, multitouch marketing. In this two-part blog series, we’re going to show you how we’ve recently used an omnichannel, multitouch approach to get results, but first, we’re going to take a look at what “omnichannel” means.
An omnichannel marketing campaign has one goal in mind — constant contact and engagement with your targets. These campaigns use data segmentation to target highly specific demographics across a wide range of platforms. Omnichannel, multitouch campaigns not only increase your visibility, but they effectively reinforce each prior point of contact. With a host of readily available response mechanisms, this style of campaign encourages engagement at every turn.
As we’ve touched on before, this strategy is heavily data-driven, but it isn’t just about segmenting your audience at the onset. As a campaign progresses, an omnichannel approach relies on real-time reporting from all channels, then adapts using that data to analyze progress and maximize effectiveness throughout the campaign.
Remember: it’s all about reaching the customers in the ways they want to be engaged — your ability to customize is endless.
Check back soon for the next part of this series, Omnichannel Marketing for New Movers, where we’ll discuss how this strategy fits into new mover marketing, including a real-world example of our recent success using this approach.
In the meantime, for more great content or to get in touch, click here.
Why We Decided to Refresh Our Brand
Over the last three decades, we’ve done a lot of amazing things for a lot of amazing clients. We’ve pioneered automated direct mailing processes, built custom correspondence management portals supplementing complex workflows, and we’ve moved mountains to ensure our customers could stay focused on what they do best. In Strata lingo: we’ve Made Smart Happen.
In fact, our services and solutions have evolved to the point where we felt they were being constrained by the visuals of our existing brand. As experts in removing roadblocks and bottlenecks, we recognized that this meant we needed to make a change. Think of it as a makeover, if you will. And yes, we know they say, “it’s what’s on the inside that matters,” but first impressions are lasting impressions and it never hurts to have a pretty, shiny exterior to match the high-caliber engine on the interior.
So, we saw a huge opportunity to show the world (not just our clients) our true colors. We’re marketing enthusiasts dedicated to innovation, collaboration, and top-notch service – we just needed our branding to confirm that.
To Rebrand or Refresh – That is the Question
If you’ve ever worked on a branding project before, then you know the first question that needs to be answered is, “do we rebrand or refresh?” A complete rebrand requires scrapping your current identify and starting with a fresh slate, where a refresh allows you to keep your main identity and strategy intact.
The answer for us wasn’t hard to find – our brand was strong with our current clients and we had a great reputation as problem solvers and solutions experts – so a refresh it was! I mean, just like you wouldn’t build a new house to change the color of a room, we didn’t need to start from the ground up to create a brand that mirrored our vision, our team, and our solutions.
Ready, Set, Go!
Fast forward to January 2020 and we’re in go mode. Ideas were flying, brainstorming was brewing, and I’ll be honest, it was a good couple week of chaos. Even as a group of marketing professionals, I don’t think any of us truly recognized the complexity and number of brains it would take to refresh our brand. In the end however, the initial chaos was beautifully orchestrated and the seeds of our new brand began to sprout.
True to the saying, the first step (the discovery phase) was definitely the hardest. It made us take a deep look at who we were so we could identify each conflicting detail between who we were at our core vs. who we were on paper. It involved a lot of long, honest conversations – but they’re conversations that needed to happen.
Then came the fun stuff. After breaking down our brand into a million essential pieces, we finally started to put it all back together and our new brand started to emerge. Our voice, values, mission, logo and brand standards all began to meld together and tell a single, cohesive story that was both accurate and elegant.
To Infinity, and Beyond
As you can tell, we’re pretty pumped about this new brand and it’s hard for us to picture ourselves any other way – it finally feels like were walking in the perfect pair of shoes.
The best part is, our new brand doesn’t really feel new to any of us. In fact, it’s exactly who we’ve always been – sleek, bold, and always moving forward. Although we don’t know exactly where the future will take us, we know that we have the vision, mindset, solutions, and *now* the brand to mirror it all.
So, I pose this question to you – what do you think of our new brand? We hope you feel the same as us and that you’re ready to Make Smart Happen and #StrideWithStrata.
Understanding How to Make an Impact in a Complex Sector
Healthcare marketing is complex stuff — marketing professionals in this sector know this.
They also know how to overcome whatever challenges these complexities present with a solid understanding of healthcare marketing strategy, beginning with their target audience. Of course, their target audience represents six generations, all the way from the GI Generation to Generation Z.
Unsurprisingly, “understanding the ins and outs of healthcare marketing strategy” isn’t exactly a simple task.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Let’s break down the anatomy of healthcare marketing into two parts: healthcare marketer responsibilities and the primary problem they face with effective marketing.
Website and Social
Let’s start by prioritizing. Healthcare Marketers are spread pretty thin when it comes to all that their job demands of them.
When it comes to the most basic of digital assets — social media and websites — marketers need to make sure they have their bases covered.
For websites that means ensuring mobile responsiveness, offering ample opportunity for conversion and placement of clear, obvious info hubs. It’s important to lay this groundwork while being careful not to neglect strategic SEO to beat out the competition.
In addition, they also have brand management related responsibilities with their website, particularly when it comes to website reviews.
Healthcare marketers are also in charge of patient acquisition strategies, which can be extremely time-intensive.
Often, accessibility plays a key role in conversions, and giving potential patients ample opportunity to connect and stay connected is a big part of that. Referral programs are also a critical component of a successful patient acquisition strategy.
Mergers of two hospital systems can be a confusing time for patients and marketers alike — it’s important to emphasize practice-specific marketing as a key focus in ad campaigns, ensuring that patients will continue to receive high-quality, specialized care while promoting new assets to retain patients, and boost patient acquisition.
Unfortunately, many of the priorities that healthcare marketers are faced with day in and day out are directives from their superiors. This can be anything from fulfilling collateral orders and completing sponsorship requests to updating staff bios.
These tasks tend to under-utilize the skills healthcare marketers have to offer as strategists and can be a frustrating part of a healthcare marketer’s day-to-day.
The Primary Obstacle: A Wide Audience
Now that we’ve identified the major day-to-day responsibilities of healthcare marketing professionals, it’s time to talk about their obstacle: diversity within their audience.
Everyone needs healthcare at some point. Whether it’s the GI Generation or Generation Z, the healthcare market spans each generation of consumers.
Such an ample audience is good for business, but the problem arises in communicating with that audience and the resources needed to connect with each segment as individuals. Each generation seeks information about healthcare differently, often choosing channels that are unique to them — where younger generations may respond to healthcare advertisements delivered via social media, older audiences may respond better to television advertisements.
Solving the Puzzle
Fortunately, there is a solution to this multi-generational puzzle, and it revolves around where we focus the crux of our attention.
Primarily, healthcare marketers should realize that an omnichannel approach is absolutely necessary for reaching all target audiences in effective ways — investing too much in any one medium, like social, will only neglect certain segments of your audience.
It’s important to remember that healthcare is largely about comfort, and in healthcare marketing, marketers need to communicate in the ways your audience feels comfortable with. This makes a strong case for the necessity of blending online and offline tactics.
It’s also important that healthcare marketers focus on creating solutions that are scalable and efficient. Segmenting your audience, building out personas and marketing to those personas utilizing smart MarTech solutions is a solid strategy to accomplish this.
Get the Tools
Healthcare marketing can put marketers in frustrating positions as they try to deal with the industry’s inherent challenges, but your marketing goals are far from out of reach. Contact us to see how Strata can help with the tools you need to develop a truly integrated healthcare marketing plan.
How We Plan to Exceed Sustainable Business Standards
I spend a lot of time in the outdoors. I always have.
Whether it’s hiking, fishing, diving or something else, the outdoors has always been a defining presence in my life — a presence that has allowed me to see some of the best of what our natural world has to offer.
Unfortunately, I’ve also seen many ways in which we’re failing our environment. Regardless of one’s political and institutional beliefs, I think we all can agree that we only have one planet, and caring for it makes the same “sense” as caring for our homes or our children. In fact, for me, this is mostly about caring for our children.
I believe we’ve reached a tipping point, a crossroads — whatever you want to call it — where the choice is simple: take action to protect our planet now or accept a future of grave uncertainty and limited possibility.
Those of us in business are on the front lines of environmental impact, and now more than ever, we must act as leaders.
For too long, businesses have simply chalked up environmental activism to donations or the purchase of energy credits.
These are both fine things, but cutting a check and carrying on, “business as usual,” has become nothing short of insufficient.
Looking inward, sustainable business practices have always been somewhere on Strata’s agenda. We offer eco-friendly options, we’re careful with our byproduct disposal and make efforts to reduce waste wherever it’s created.
This too is not enough.
Going forward, effective immediately, Strata is implementing an aggressive eco-first strategy to not only meet widely recognized standards for sustainable business but exceed those criteria to the point of setting new industry benchmarks. We’re going to look carefully at the science and our environmental impact, and address each part of our operation to reach a goal of being carbon neutral by 2025 and environmentally neutral by 2030.
To start, we will develop, articulate and implement more responsible internal and external practices. We will allocate ten percent of company profits towards eliminating our footprint. We will participate through company-sponsored volunteerism in environmentally impactful ways, and together, see just how far these actions take us in attaining our goals. As these things come into being, we will re-evaluate and adjust.
We’re creating this blog series to lead by example, taking our readers along with us as we move towards new levels of sustainability. Throughout, we’ll be exploring what environmental responsibility means to our business and what kind of changes we’re making to see a real, measurable impact.
We are not certain where this journey will take us. Some of the concepts and technologies we will need to reach our ultimate goal are not even fully developed or available, yet. However, we have a chance to take adversity and channel it into opportunity. It is a challenge that we meet with optimism.
We’re excited to share our journey with you, and hope you’ll follow along, both as readers and business people committed to sustainability. We look forward to seeing what one small, for-profit business can accomplish.