Multichannel Marketing Pays Off

Increase revenue by offering multichannel marketing services.

By Amber E. Watson, Digital Publishing Solutions Magazine

Customers engage with brands in more ways and on more devices than ever before. This fact presents both opportunities and challenges to marketers. Print and marketing service providers are in the position to help deliver the best method to the right audience.

Different methods have different advantages, as noted by Steve Cousins, VP, technology, Heeter. “Print provides clear advantages in terms of consistency of presentation and deliverability, while digital offers significant value in reaching targeted groups and the ability to interact and measure feedback,” he says.

In operation for over 70 years, Heeter is a Canonsburg, PA-based print provider that offers print, direct mail, fulfillment, and digital services to the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and beyond. While it serves many industries, the shop has particular expertise in casino, health insurance, retail, pharmaceutical, and education markets.

Investing in Multichannel Marketing Services

The introduction of cross-channel marketing at Heeter began a couple of years ago when a casino client expressed the desire to target customers using multiple channels, for example, print, direct mail, and email. Heeter developed a full suite of tools and services allowing clients to target consumers using traditional print, direct mail, digital media, and mobile channels. Services offered by the marketing service provider cover the entire spectrum of traditional print to full-color digital and fulfillment capabilities.

The rise of multichannel marketing drove Heeter to invest in software and research and development. “We believe that while any print provider can print and mail, innovative print providers that offer the types of multichannel services that our clients demand require a higher level of investment in technology and the technical expertise to support that investment. Heeter has and continues to make this investment,” notes Cousins.

The company uses a number of applications offered by software partner, GMC Software Technology. “We partner with GMC because they have proven that they are willing to stay ahead and collaborate with us in delivering cutting edge solutions. We value the relationship we built with them,” says Cousins.

The software and equipment investment made by Heeter in this initiative provides the opportunity to talk to stakeholders within their existing client base. “The enhanced services we now offer and the level of marketing executives we now talk to, have resulted in significant revenue increases within all aspects of our service offerings,” shares Cousins.

Encouraging College Applicants

Heeter works with top marketers that have shown success in marrying print and electronic delivery methods into a sophisticated marketing plan that delivers strong results. “A well thought out plan reaches specific segments that tend to engage in specific channels,” explains Cousins. “One major drawback for marketers is the need to have expertise in both approaches. We find that clients seek service providers with strong capabilities in all areas.”

To target a group of high school seniors as potential applicants, the admissions office of Pittsburg, PA-based Chatham University worked with Heeter to create and mail a targeted postcard to the students.

The card featured a personalized Web address URL (pURL), which offered each student a special way to apply for admission. “After he/she entered their pURL, the student was taken to a series of personalized pages where they could discover new information, update their bio content, and easily apply for admission,” says Cousins.

Chatham gained valuable insight by seeing which targets interacted with the Web site. The university then placed calls to interested students.

The campaign was developed using GMC Software’s Inspire to do everything from generating the pURLs to producing the final file that was digitally printed and mailed.

Varied Methods

Heeter works with clients to provide the most appropriate delivery methods based on key demographics. For example, email, mobile, and other emerging technologies, such as augmented reality, are aimed at a younger audience. Cousins points out that each campaign, however, must take into consideration the channel used.

Heeter also closely watches the same audience as they age. “I do not believe there is concrete evidence either way that shows what happens as an audience gets older,” says Cousins. “We are trying to figure out if the group stays with an electronic delivery method, starts to prefer paper communications, or a combination of both.”

There are also complications with the 30s to 40s age group to consider. “This demographic prefers to receive campaigns and information in both electronic and paper form and often switches between the two depending on what is sent to them or at what stage they are within the sales process,” notes Cousins.

More Channels
Heeter continues to invest in multichannel capabilities with an ability to deliver consistent messaging by both print and digital/electronic means. Software plays a critical role in this future investment.

While Heeter does not see direct mail and print declining, it does foresee clients regularly using more than one channel. “Our customers do expect that their print service provider can offer the full array of multichannel products and services,” says Cousins.

Heeter plans to continue to fulfill this need for new delivery options. Print and marketing providers that offer a range of marketing channels enable limitless options for clients. With the variety of methods available, the ability to reach today’s audiences through multiple channels is critical.

Reprinted from Digital Printing Solutions Magazine, October, 2013 edition.