Five digital communication trends for 2011
As the new year approaches at a speed of knots, there are a number of digital communication trends to look out for. While by no means comprehensive, this is a list of five trends we believe companies should be keeping an eagle eye out for:
1) Transpromo. Short-hand for transactional/promotional, this is one of the most important technology/business trends in marketing/sales today. It is the ability to merge data mining, customer profiling and segmentation, and existing transactional documents (such as bills, invoices and statements) to deliver highly customised, even personalised communication to existing customers.
This increases the chance of a customer response by 500% relative to traditional direct marketing methods. The cost is negligible, as the invoice/statement is already a sunk cost, and adding one or two pages is negligible, given the returns enjoyed by pioneering companies, such as Reader`s Digest. Transpromo is not easy, and it implies an organisational shift in terms of corporate thinking and behaviour, but is very lucrative when done properly.
2) Variable data printing. To an extent, transpromo is enabled by variable data printing, or VDP. VDP permits a company to communicate with different customers in different ways. It does not need the depth of technology investment or personalisation that transpromo does, but it can be mighty effective in reaching different customers differently at a decent price point. VDP differs from traditional printing in that it allows mass customisation via digital print technology: where offset lithography would have produced one document 50 000 times - mass production - now 50 000 documents can be produced with elements of fixed content and other elements of variable printing, such as salutation and product offering.
3) Social media. We may think we know social media, but we would be wrong. The social media revolution has scarcely begun, and it`s worth remembering that five years ago Twitter and Facebook were hardly known. Today, if Facebook users could be marshalled into one territory, they would constitute the third largest country in the world at 500 million. Any digital communication campaign today must factor in social media, both from an inbound and outbound campaign perspective.
4) Electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP). This is the process whereby a company presents its bills via the Internet and customers can choose to settle them via the same medium. Many companies have chosen to go this route rather than use paper, for two reasons: to cut back on paper consumption as a green imperative; and to cut costs. The fact that the Internet is not yet ubiquitous is clearly an issue, but this is an increasingly popular digital communication medium.
5) More opt-in. There can scarcely be a person who does not get irritated with interrupt type communication. This is where an advertisement breaks into a TV show; an SMS breaks into your daily flow of work; spam e-mail clogs your inbox; junk inserts fill both your daily newspaper and your postbox. There has to be a better way, and it is based on the opt-in principle. Outbound communication increasingly has to be based on opt-in, or response rates will remain locked at 002%, or around there, and the irritation factor will predominate. Treat potential and existing customers with respect, or you will lose them.