The mailbox is an amazing environment. It welcomes communication from the companies we do business with, our insurers, our banks, and from companies who believe we might be interested in their products and services. It is also the depository for invitations, cards, and letters from our family and friends. It is tied to our home address and carries some implied demographic information because of the location information tied to it. It is perceived differently from our email inbox, which often filters inbound communication from our eyes before we get to it. And, while email can carry some demographic information, for the most part, email is not as cognizant of who we are as our trusty mailbox linked to our street address is. That is why mailed communication from our credit card companies, utilities, other billers and transaction communication providers, and government shines when it arrives in the mailbox. And that makes it an opportunity, because the data tells us that the rush to e-delivery may have hit its plateau.
Transactional documents carry gravitas. They are sent by companies we have a financial relationship with or by the governments we interact with. We know when the envelope comes that there is information that is relevant to us. While it is true that some people toss the envelope directly into a filing cabinet in case it is needed, more than 90% of people open their bills and statements when you aggregate the available research. They also read them. And that is not an age-dependent statement!
Research from the Keypoint Intelligence Customer Communication Service has shown for the last two years that customer preferences point to the desire for multiple channels of communication from trusted billers. It’s not just the over-55 cohort! In all age ranges, including the millennials and GenZ segments, more than two-thirds of customers said that they wanted to decide which channel their providers should use for communication, and there was a strong preference for both e-delivery and print.
That shouldn’t be a surprise. Everyone is busy. They want the convenience of quickly checking a bill and paying it online, but also the freedom to spend some time with the printed edition to check line items and the various offers available to them.
You have their attention, so use it to put your best, targeted offers in front of your constituents! The opening volley of TransPromo, back in 2007, was to call attention to the power of a whitepaper factory for transactional communication. Eliminate the preprinted shells by printing the entire package on a full color press, and then leverage the available whitespace by adding educational and promotional content targeted to the recipient.
Whether you call it TransPromo or something else, you see it on bills and statements from all sectors today. That graph that shows your FICO score or information how to get help if you are impacted by a disaster are all based on the same ideas that began with the first forays into TransPromo. And, today, the options are more varied than ever before.
TransPromo doesn’t require a deep dive into the customer data lake or detailed analysis of a customer buying history. If you have them, and are permitted to use them, fabulous. But if you are among the companies that do not open access to that type of data for marketing purposes, consider what you know about every customer and use it to build a TransPromo starter program.
You know the mailing address for every customer. That mailing address contains a vast array of demographic information, most of it publicly available. You can learn the relative economic level of the neighborhood. You can identify the region, which gives you information on how the seasons behave. You can determine if the address is in a mountain town, on a lake, on a golf course, or in ranch country. Just the ZIP Code becomes a pointer to things you can know to develop offers that will be relevant to a customer without becoming too personal. It becomes serendipity, and it is a great way to use data.
Now, before you get too excited, remember: There is a wrong way to use data. If you have access to specific customer transactions, it might be tempting to make an offer based on a specific purchase or other type of transaction. For example, the data shows that Jim bought a pair of black wing tips, so you want to make an offer for coordinating socks and belt. Or, Mary bought a green suit, so you want to make an offer for a coordinating blouse and shoes. Don’t do it. The power of TransPromo is to use it to create that magic moment that will delight the recipient when they open their statement. If the offer seems too personal, you may lose that customer for a very long time.
Making TransPromo work for you might take some statement re-engineering, but it will be worth it. Start with the baby steps. Begin by adding a page with offers as an additional page while you work on re-engineering your bills and statements to manage the whitespace to handle offers and education. Remember, you may already have the tools to do the re-engineering. If you don’t have them, there are vendors who specialize in helping you to refresh your documents.
Consider a second step that adds educational content, including available spend or a breakdown of spend categories. Charts and graphs are appreciated to give a quick view of the relationship. When you are ready to incorporate offers into the fabric of the statement, start with high level offers and ask permission over time to use deeper levels of data to create more relevant offers. It’s a process. Some customers will be happy to see personalized offers, while others will not.
If you aren’t considering TransPromo today, you should be. If you are already using TransPromo techniques, it’s always a good idea to assess how they are working and give them a makeover if needed.
Pat McGrew is Managing Director, McGrewGroup, Inc. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the July/August, 2020 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.