By Barbara Pellow (originally published on WhatTheyThink.com during Graph Expo 2006) January 19, 2007 -- One of the areas at Graph Expo that will have lots of new news is one-to-one variable imaging solutions. Complexity in the variable data continuum is changing. Historically, there have been a range of solutions, from simple mail merge to complex transaction document solutions. Market research firm InfoTrends, in its 2005 Variable Data Design and Production Report, identified options including: * Mail merge: Incorporating simple name and address information to produce unique pieces for each recipient. * Simple One-to-One: Incorporating some targeted images and text along with personalized information to produce a unique composition that is customized to a unique recipient. * Complex One-to-One: Incorporating completely unique text images graphics, templates, content and designs based on specific detailed profile information about each recipient. * Transaction: Incorporating personalized and customized content with intricate financial and account data that is automatically composed to produce “data-driven” documents. This data is frequently mainframe-based and document creation may encompass complex logic. But now there is a new game in town, and it is not for the faint of heart. It is the emerging world of integrated automated marketing campaign management. In reviewing the show floor at Graph Expo, there is clearly a lot of attention being paid to multi-channel communications options and alternatives. There are both existing variable data software solution providers and new players that are “getting in the game” and starting to redefine the rules for marketing solutions…solutions that will drive both print and electronic communications and yet again change business models for graphic communications service providers. So what exactly is integrated automated campaign management and why is it important? In a difficult economy, the marketing budget in corporate America typically falls victim to intense scrutiny. For the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), the job today is far greater than brand communications. It is about marketing accountability. Marketing groups must now fill the pipeline with predisposed prospects, optimize customer value, and be accountable for demand generation through market differentiation and integrated multi-channel campaign management. This requires new competency in business analytics, database management, digital marketing, field sales, channel operations and marketing results analysis. Online marketing in particular is gaining increased attention as CMOs are being asked for a greater degree of accountability. In that quest for greater accountability, multi-channel campaigns that blend print and Web capability are gaining increased attention and more budget allocation. According to the CMO Web-Smart Survey by Webtrends, “Over 56 percent of marketing executives said that the Web was either the hub of their marketing organization’s strategy, or it would become the hub in the next year.” The survey went on to say that marketing executives and their organizations are not very savvy when it comes to their collective knowledge of online marketing trends, strategies and technologies. What the CMO is looking for are tools to automate marketing campaigns. To varying degrees marketing-automation applications let users design, schedule, execute and evaluate multi-channel marketing campaigns. The integrated campaign management tools provide offers directly to the customer and support sales activity. Incorporating offers and solicitations into a common contact repository and prompting contact agents to follow up on customer interactions have had a very positive business impact. The specific features incorporated in systems can include: * Planning marketing activities and the development of campaign hierarchies. * Coordination of multiple channels and event triggers to automate response actions. * Building and testing sample campaigns on a subset of customers. * Storing and reusing content from previous marketing campaigns. * Measuring campaign effectiveness. * Tracking fulfillments supplied to the client via each channel to avoid duplication and maximize media effectiveness. * Tracking customer inquiries related directly to the campaign. * Tracking sales force closures or conversions related directly to the campaign. * Personalization support, which lets firms track and respond to customers in an individualized fashion based on behaviors. Personalization features include: o Collecting data on Internet site visits o Addressing customers who visit the site by name and remembering preferences o Allowing customers to customize content to suit their purposes o Showing customers specific content based on who they are and past behaviors o Allowing for the possibility of self-adjusting the campaign and offerings based on customer behavior o Integrating technologies and techniques to optimize business results What to look for at Graph Expo Software and digital print equipment technologies are converging to address these growing requirements for interactive, multi-channel, performance-driven marketing solutions. Digital color print technology has advanced to the level where it is acceptable from a price/performance perspective for a broad array of direct marketing materials. As you walk the show floor at Graph Expo, you will see high quality near-offset-quality pages produced on a variety of different technologies at different price/performance levels. Kodak, Xerox, Canon, Xeikon, HP, and Konica Minolta will all be demonstrating digital color print technology that is more than acceptable for the production of marketing materials. More importantly, a full range of software tools is emerging that are starting to deliver on the promise of integrated campaign management. XMPie, Document Sciences, Pageflex, and MindFireInc have tool sets that can help the graphic communications service provider develop integrated marketing campaigns. They link the power of direct mail with the interactive capabilities of the Internet. The objective is to convert more direct mail recipients into qualified prospects and valued customers by sustaining and integrated and evolving dialogue with those customers and prospects. These application solutions automate the creation, management and tracking of Personalized URLs and VIP Landing Pages. Here is a sampling of what will be on the show floor. Katherine Reisz-Hanson, Director of Pageflex Product Marketing, said, “We will be demonstrating Pageflex 5.0. Pageflex 5.0 includes a cross media module. Customers who license this module can produce customized and personalized cross media campaigns using a database or Web form to produce print, HTML email, personalized URLs, landing pages, and Web microsites. Pageflex 5.0 dynamically generates everything necessary to deliver these digital messages. It handles the sending of the HTML emails and the dynamic generation and posting of Web microsite pages.” MindFireInc will demonstrate a highly successful real-world lead generation campaign from the high-tech industry. The attention grabbing variable data direct mail piece invited recipients to a party at a trade show and asked them to RSVP via a Personalized URL. Each VIP Landing Page was personalized and current customers of the company saw a different version than prospects. The pages got more relevant as data was gathered on each respondent. Follow-up email messages were automatically sent to each respondent acknowledging their visit and answer to the party invitation. Leads are automatically sent to sales representatives via email or PDA. All on-line activity is tracked via a web-based Campaign Dashboard, enabling the marketing and sales managers to closely monitor the campaign. The MindFireInc booth is designed to let visitors experience this program first-hand and see how to provide PURLs and real-time results to marketing clients. At the Document Sciences’ booth, visitors will see state-of-the-art solutions for personalizing customer communications. Its xPression product suite is designed to help users retain customers and improve their experience through the delivery of consistent, relevant and cost-effective customer communications. The xPresso for Adobe InDesign tool focuses on the creation of transpromotional statements that combine customer transactional data with integrated marketing messaging. Its easy-to-use interface simplifies the creation of template driven variable marketing applications for personalized, full-color direct marketing offers, collateral and catalogs. The xPRS server can produce millions of personalized customer communications based on these templates through batch requests or from web portals, enabling full Web to Print functionality. XMPie understood early on that the Internet introduced new channels for marketing and created new consumer behaviors. Its integrated offering is designed to let marketers reach customers via print, web, and e-mail. At Graph Expo, XMPie is emphasizing its recently launched next generation technology in cross media marketing, Interactive Content Ports. With Interactive Content Ports, the data and rules that drive the personalization of print campaigns are shared with any interactive web design software via a standard database connection or web services. Interactive Content Ports make it easy and natural for any web developer to incorporate dynamic, data-driven web sites into any XMPie variable data campaign. More to Come…The New Value Proposition As multi-channel marketing gains momentum, there will be more focus on accountability and the ability to prove how campaigns translate into growth and profitability. Marketers will want to optimize campaigns and improve their performance. An array of software tools that blend the power of print and the interactivity of the Web will be demonstrated at Graph Expo. This is just a snapshot of what’s to come as the market shifts to solutions that deliver high quality communications designed to provide measurable results and higher return on investment. Success with marketing executive will be crucial to the success of your business. As you walk the show floor, you will see expanded offerings from Objectif Lune, GMC, PrintSoft, Responsive Solutions, Saepio, XMPie, Pageflex, Meadows and others. These are times of significant change in marketing, and you can play a key role in successfully driving that change. It requires you to elevate contacts to the right level in the organization; ensure you have the right tool set in place; and deliver the right value to the client. And Graph Expo is a great venue for getting caught up on the latest solutions that can augment your business. Stay tuned for more as I speak to the vendors on the show floor next week.