Marketing Automation

Marketing Tips to Help You Succeed in 2020

The holiday season is here, but smart marketers know the grind never really stops.

Enter our two-part series, “12 Days of Smart Marketing”.

In this series, we’ll discuss twelve smart marketing choices and tips that virtually guarantee continued success in the New Year.

Enough preface, let’s get straight to opening presents.

1. Utilize Marketing Automation

Pushing a to-do item like a social media post or email campaign blast to the back of the pile may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but ultimately, these types of mistakes can have a serious impact on your bottom line.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution — automation. Keep using it.

Not only does marketing automation allow you to tackle tedious day-to-day tasks in time-saving batches, but it also creates better data, particularly in the realm of social media (where timing is crucial). Using automated MarTech allows you to observe patterns like a data scientist by reducing the human variable of inconsistency.

The case for automation put simply – better data and greater efficiency means higher ROI.

2. Create Marketing Personas

Are you using personas? You should be.

Personas — the idea of using a fictitious customer profile to hone segmented messaging — are an increasingly popular marketing tool that yields dividends when reaching out to segmented audiences.

You can generate them through internal customer information to help you tailor messaging to your audience. You can also use outside research to develop a template of what a new audience might look like.

Personas are a powerful tool that helps solidify your branding and guide your sales team towards delivering consistent and resonating messages. The limits of their utility are the limits of your creativity.

3. Improve Your Database Quality

It wouldn’t be a New Year if it didn’t involve some housekeeping, and your database probably could use a cleanup. This is a chore, so we’ll keep it brief.

First, there’s plenty of MarTech that can make this process be less of a headache. Find what sort of data managers work for you and implement them, it’ll pay dividends in saved time.

Next, revisit your processes and see what has become obsolete or simply isn’t working. Now might also be a good time to conduct some basic training on data hygiene and its importance. Employees operating with a more complete understanding of the impacts of bad data and how to maintain a quality database will be a boon to your company’s efficiency.

Database cleaned up? Great, use it to its fullest.

4. Understand and Leverage the RIGHT MarTech

MarTech is not the place to be playing “keeping up with the Jones’”.

It’s important to do internal evaluations of your needs, considering the real-life obstacles you routinely encounter, to inform your MarTech purchases. Buying a MarTech product that only has limited application to your business or feeling the need to purchase a product simply because a competitor has success with it can be a tremendous waste of money.

5. Merge Print and Digital

If there’s one facet of marketing we love, it’s the merging of print and digital technologies to better resonate with the customer.

Delivering print with digital assets in the form of a dimensional mailer gives you the opportunity to stand out from the competition in big ways — whether it’s the visual and tactile impact of a box received in the mail or the many, many technological options you can include (everything from QR codes to pre-loaded videos), dimensional mailers equal impact.

Not only is a more immersive experience something the customer will appreciate but the opportunity it presents in streamlining direct outreach with digital assets, more efficiently moving customers down the sales funnel, is invaluable.

6. Listen to Your Customers

We recently outlined what makes a great listener and how important truly listening to your customers can be. Listening to customer feedback and looking to your customers as a primary source of critique is a sure-fire way to make constructive changes to your business.

Developing your relationship with your audience is never a bad thing, and thoughtful dialogue between business and customer is something that can ensure you develop these relationships again and again. More importantly, this type of relationship makes customers feel heard, and that level of acknowledgment is often what begins to shift an audience into a fanbase.

That’s it for Part 1! Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll explore more marketing tactics to greet the New Year.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you make smart happen in 2020 contact us today.

Choosing the Right MarTech for Your Needs

Jetpacks, hoverboards, androids — for many of us, the future is defined by technology.

Fantasy aside, the future of marketing is also defined by technological advancements, and with today’s MarTech, the future of marketing looks pretty interesting.

Today’s MarTech has almost limitless capabilities. From managing content assets and social media to in-office solutions streamlining team workflow, MarTech has a place in every business.

A Burgeoning Industry

MarTech is simply any form of software used by marketers to perform tasks like organizing marketing campaigns, reaching out to customers, and posting to social media sites.

As an industry, MarTech has been experiencing a major boom over the last decade. In 2011, there were less than 200 businesses defining themselves as being focused on MarTech. Today, there are thousands, all constantly evolving to meet marketers’ demands with smart solutions.

These solutions expand into all facets of marketing, for example:

    • CRM and MRM software
    • Chatbots and AI to interface with customers
    • Automation of social media posts

Much like apps for your phone (and some MarTech solutions are apps for your phone), if there’s a possible need, there is more than likely a MarTech solution to meet it.

How to Choose

Regardless of your industry, there are two major forms of MarTech: point and suite. Point solutions focus on one specific marketing task, like managing contacts. Suite solutions focus on large goals involving multiple marketing tasks, like managing contacts, organizing them into segments, and reaching out with pre-determined correspondence.

It’s important not to go all out with MarTech suites just for the sake of having options. Although plenty of MarTech offerings, like the social media manager Hootsuite, for example, are relatively inexpensive, other options (particularly custom MarTech solutions) can come with high price tags. In short, be sure to purchase by necessity and purpose.

Don’t fall into the trap of purchasing MarTech solutions simply because they’re considered “industry standard” or used by your competitors. There’s nothing wrong with looking to others to inform your decision, but MarTech is not the place to play “keeping up with the Joneses”.

When to Explore New Options

MarTech should be a tool you use to streamline, operationalize and be efficient. By doing so, it creates more options and opportunities to market at-scale, and not force you into playing to limitations. When evaluating or reevaluating your available MarTech solutions, consider the following:

  • Are your MarTech solutions scalable?
  • Can you adapt your MarTech solutions to changing goals?
  • Are your MarTech solutions comparable to new technologies?

If you answered no to any of these, it’s likely your MarTech solutions have become obsolete.

The Era of (Mar)Tech

The future is defined by technology, and MarTech is the future of marketing. If you’re not already embracing MarTech and adapting these varied and customizable solutions to your business, you’re living in the past.

Remember, explore your options and be critical of them. Make sure that your MarTech can adapt to you and evolve as you do. After all, the ability to pivot is essential to the future of marketing. Your MarTech should reflect that.

Looking to upgrade your MarTech? Contact us to see how we can help.

Understanding the Importance of Sustainable and Scalable Processes

Do more with less – it’s a phrase every marketing leader has heard. You’re constantly being challenged to grow customer engagement, provide meaningful experiences, and consistently fill pipelines, all while decreasing expenses and resources. It’s a tall task – especially as marketing teams continue to get leaner and the day-to-day grind becomes more fast-paced and time-sensitive. But it’s a task that can be accomplished with a combination of the right tools, smart choices, and repeatable processes.

The Power of Marketing Automation

While you may never be able to eliminate all of the rework in your marketing strategy, leveraging tools like marketing automation can help eliminate repetitive steps that negatively impact performance. Rather than creating and recreating emails and campaigns from scratch, marketing automation allows anyone on your team the ability to clone user-friendly email templates and then make brand-approved adjustments.

Just think about what your creative services team might be able to do with all of that extra free time each week.

But when it comes to marketing automation, it’s not just about making your emails and campaigns scalable. Think bigger. It can help automate and elevate your social media, lead generation, landing pages, segmentation rules, and more. It’s a tool that can save you time across the board by creating repeatable processes and automated efficiencies, and has resulted in 1 in 3 marketing executives proclaiming it’s improved their department’s productivity and ROI.

Figure Out What Works and Repeat

The marketing teams that do the most with limited resources are the ones that understand what works and then replicates it. This goes beyond simple email campaigns and what marketing automation can do. This advanced tactic lets your team take entire programs – like an event or direct mail campaign for example – and replicate all of the content, workflows, materials, etc. It’s a great way to implement best practices and maximize your team’s time.

As the old saying goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Image this example. Each month, your company onboards several new accounts and part of the onboarding process involves them receiving a personalized welcome box with some company swag. It’s an easy way to say thank you and enhance the customer journey but it can be time consuming. Think about the effort and resources it would take each month to gather information for each new client, compile a mailing list, design each custom box, order the swag, print the boxes, assemble the boxes, ship them, and then finally track the results. If you’re not exhausted after reading that, I’m impressed.

Now consider this – if your team develops a process that can be cloned each month, the process becomes a well-oiled machine. They can use a CRM to house the contact information and lists, include personalized variable fields on the creative, and standardize processes for printing, shipping and tracking engagement. Or better yet, they can find a tool that can take care of the creative, fulfilment and shipping – further freeing up their time.

Reaping the Benefits

At the end of the day, if you’re like most, your marketing budget isn’t getting any bigger and sustainable and scalable processes and programs are going to become more important than ever before.

While it’s nice to relieve your marketing team from performing repetitive tasks, on a larger scale, the right tools and smart choices can do so much more. You’ll be able to regain hours, lower your operational costs, reach a larger audience, and measure concrete success. You’ll truly be able to reach the marketing holy grail – doing more with less.

Are you interested in learning about how Strata can help you scale your marketing efforts? Contact us today and see what we can do for you.

4 Reasons You Need Cloud-driven Process Automation

While every business understands the need for standards, not all have taken the leap to technologies that help enforce them. Technologies with process management and automation at their core are ideal for setting standards in how campaigns are executed, customers are responded to, etc.

Long-term benefits are many and crucial, ultimately allowing businesses to stay competitive by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, eliminating errors, and fostering stronger internal collaboration, which in turn drives a better customer experience. They can also improve the alignment of everyday functions with top-level goals and strategy and allow greater agility.

A Central Repository for Standards, Assets and Workflow Management

The centralized access that process management oriented technology provides, coupled with features such as automated workflows, can eliminate common headaches related to the notorious “silo” approach. These include:

  • Resources housed in disparate systems
  • Approvals held up in email chains
  • Compromised effectiveness of marketing, brand management and overall efficiency

On the other hand, process management solutions create a controlled space where defined business standards can be easily shared and accessed. Here’s a closer look at some of the top practices for cloud-based control of business standards, and immediate improvements organizations may notice.

  1. Share Brand Standards and Guidelines
    Central storage of standards related to branding and asset usage helps companies present a more unified brand, providing:
      • Improved brand consistency and recognition
      • A more consistent customer experience
      • Organization-wide commitment to brand compliance
      • Faster delivery of brand assets to stakeholders
      • Reduced backlog on marketing – central access means less time spent fulfilling requests for branded materials
  2. Set Creative Standards for Materials and Content
    Through process management technology, the chance of off-brand, off-message collateral making its way to customers drops significantly. Using templates, marketing can define standards for photos, graphics, color palettes, messaging and other creative elements.Once templates are available in a single system, permission-based access allows users to customize them – without straying from the established visual brand and messaging.
  3. Set Timeline Mandates for Processes and Production Workflows
    With centrally managed timelines, automated reminders, and deadline requirements for functions such as proofing, approvals and campaign execution, process management technology keeps stakeholders up to date on overall project status and individual tasks. These features allow companies to:

    • Accelerate response to local markets
    • Increase speed to market for time-sensitive campaigns
    • Streamline formerly time-intensive workflows
  4. Place Controls on the Price of Goods
    Besides saving on indirect costs related to improved efficiency, companies can also use process management technology to automatically set pricing by location, vendor, user or any other sort of variable. This immediately eliminates back-end manual processing on a case by case basis.Systems can be designed to allow for “controlled” variability; the price for the same good can be dependent on the user placing an order, or even the ship to location. All of this, however, is taking place on the back end and is never transparent to a user. Global corporations can instantly set different pricing in their e-commerce tool, taking a fully hands-off approach while ensuring compliance with business pricing standards and protecting their bottom line.

Why Process Management Should Live in the Cloud

As mentioned, businesses have long recognized the benefits of globally available standards and controlled processes – which is why many still rely on a home-grown intranet for this purpose or – more simply – documents that are shared and have to be constantly updated and communicated about.

But many businesses are choosing cloud-based applications for process management, opting for advantages including:

  • Greater scalability
  • Greater accessibility
  • Increased mobility
  • Decreased strain on IT departments

And custom-designed, cloud-based process management systems can offer the best of both worlds: the advantages of the cloud plus the ability to build in very specific elements unique to what makes your organization successful.

Next Steps

For over 20 years, Strata Company, a Greater Philadelphia area marketing, communications and technology firm, has collaborated with clients to develop solutions that help take their business to new heights. We help them realize the full value of their data via cloud-based tools customized to their business goals and objectives. Through our applications they realize efficiency gains, reduce costs, improve the customer experience, and gain competitive advantage.

Print On Demand Systems and Variable Printing Software

Printing fulfillment at many companies – particularly large or growing organizations – can be prone to several issues:

  • Waste
  • Redundancy
  • Over-spending
  • Delays to market
  • Quality control

By implementing technology solutions to drive print processes, businesses realize significant cost savings, faster time to market and improved personalization. Higher-quality finished products are an additional benefit.

So how exactly do tech-driven printing approaches such as print-on-demand portals and variable printing software promote cost savings, quality and efficiency? Here’s the “fine print.”

Placing Print Orders in the Digital Age: Print as Ecommerce

A web2print system for print supply and distribution gives users all the ease of online shopping:

  • User-friendly Print Fulfillment
    Web-based portals store print jobs digitally. Users can easily search for and select the collateral needed, and customize according to approved modifications. The portal serves as an online catalog where users can “shop” for what they need in minutes rather than spend hours searching through multiple archives and folders to locate assets. A print-on-demand portal stores all job details: quantities, pricing, vendors, turnaround times, specs, logistics, etc.
  • Reduced Obsolescence and Tighter Inventory Control
    The “ecommerce” approach provides back-end benefits as well in terms of tracking print orders and reporting on usage. On-demand printing eliminates the need for mass-quantity print runs, thus decreasing storage needs and wasted spend on obsolete materials. (This also prevents potential customers from receiving collateral that’s no longer relevant, which happens more frequently than you’d think.)
  • Centralized Approach to Procurement
    A web-based print management system cuts down on the number of vendors a company needs to manage. This centralized approach opens up the opportunity to obtain lower price points by moving from individual transaction-based pricing to longer-term contract pricing.

Better Quality and Flexibility Means More Effective Print Marketing

  • Maintain Brand Consistency
    Compromising brand integrity can be a headache when it comes to customizing marketing materials. However, customization becomes much simpler – and controllable – with dynamic templates. Templates allow, for example, a local sales rep to incorporate regional information on a product brochure. It eliminates the dilemma of supplying local marketers with approved branding assets and crossing your fingers that they’ll use them properly. And corporate staff will thank you for the hours they gain back when they don’t need to constantly fulfill requests for customization.
  • Automate the Proof and Approval Process
    You have greater control over the finished product, with real-time editing capabilities and instant, interactive proofs. Goodbye human error and backlogs, hello accuracy and streamlined approval processes. Project tracking features can eliminate the back and forth and days-long waiting periods involved in traditional print processes.
  • Variable Data Print Capabilities
    Personalization is no longer the future of marketing – it’s arrived. Today’s leading marketers know that personalization is imperative to connect with targets and capture market share. Software that supports variable data printing can immediately pull in data to populate output, so you can fully leverage your customer data to create segmented mailings that support higher response rates and qualified leads. Beyond reducing costs, this aspect can actually contribute to the bottom line by driving higher response rates and sales.

How Can Technology Make Your Print Processes Smarter?

For more than 20 years, Greater Philadelphia-based Strata Company has helped clients leverage technology to save time and money. Our off-the-shelf software platforms and custom cloud-based solutions enable faster, more accurate print communications. We put the control over branding, workflows and ordering at your fingertips – and take the manual processes off your hands. Contact us to see how we can help.

Marketing Resource Management for Local Marketing Enablement

Several years ago, industry leader Gartner predicted that organizations that invested in processes for integrating local marketing enablement could see revenue gains of up to 20% by the year 2015.

In 2017, as the need for relevant, personalized marketing continues to crystallize, it’s clear that organizations with a national or global brand only stand to benefit from strengthening their local marketing enablement.

But corporate marketing can’t possibly scale brand messaging to every local market. Enter marketing resource management – also known as local marketing automation (LMA) solutions – the technology and processes that enable a more seamless execution of local marketing. It enables organizations to better align corporate marketing standards and goals with local marketing efforts.

Pairing the Power of Localized Marketing with Global Strategy

With LMA, it’s not just about streamlining tasks, protecting the corporate brand and ensuring compliance (although these are invaluable benefits). Targeted, personalized campaigns are now core elements in most marketing strategies. Consumers are demanding relevance. Consumers want to feel like you are specifically addressing them as individuals – not a wide general audience. They are shunning the generic and embracing the authentic.

Give customers localized content in an authentic voice, and they’ll respond: Localized marketing communications can produce an 18% higher response rate than generic corporate communications, according to Gleanster Research. (A report from Gleanster on building a business case for LMA provides in-depth guidance on justifying ROI.)

LMA solutions ensure that corporate owns and controls the brand, strategy and tactics. But it also empowers marketing teams to integrate localized data to produce more targeted – and therefore more powerful – campaigns.

LMA lets organizations with widespread markets representing diverse demographics, geographic regions and even languages achieve this. It isn’t just a point solution; rather, LMA provides the structure to integrate a fragmented web of point solutions (e.g., those for digital marketing assets, lists, inventory, campaign management and more). The result is a more seamless customer experience that preserves local relevance while also retaining the appeal of the higher-level brand.

9 Signs You Need MRM for Local Marketing

Benefits range from those inherent with MRM and a local marketing automation system – improved speed to market, efficiency and less chaotic distribution of content and collateral – to producing more targeted and effective campaigns that harness the power of local knowledge and data.

The following is far from a comprehensive list of reasons to implement LMA or integrating an existing infrastructure of disparate solutions. But if any of these ring a bell, it’s past time to investigate your options:

  1. Personalized, segmented marketing is part of your national or global strategy – but leveraging local data (e.g., addresses, product selection, business hours) is unwieldy or out of reach.
  2. Local campaigns tend to “go rogue,” sabotaging brand integrity and creative standards, not to mention regulatory compliance.
  3. Corporate marketing lacks aggregated analytics and reporting for national campaigns at the local level.
  4. Your brand lacks visibility and recognition in some or most of your local markets.
  5. National campaigns experience lagging time-to-market at the local level.
  6. Redundant processes and delays in approvals sacrifice valuable hours that could be spent developing brand and strategy.
  7. Ad-hoc local, short-run print costs and misuse of existing content are leading to unnecessary costs.
  8. Central teams are spending too much time fulfilling one-off requests and re-creating content to meet day-to-day local demands.
  9. Meanwhile, local teams often forego waiting for corporate and struggle to create their own marketing instead of focusing on local sales and outreach.

Getting Started With MRM and LMA

Selecting and implementing MRM for local marketing enablement is a process that takes time, careful research and planning. Strata Company, a marketing, communications and technology firm based in Plymouth Meeting, PA, knows that companies need more than a one-size-fits-all solution. For over 20 years our clients have relied on our industry expertise, personalized support and customizable technology platforms to help them improve local marketing. Read a case study on how we helped a national pharmacy chain give its large network of independent stores a competitive edge through a customized local marketing solution. Or contact us today to discuss your goals and challenges.