Being a father of five, I remember family vacations when we’d drive to reach our destination. Commotion aside, the most vivid memory was the barrage of questions. “Why is the sky blue?” Or, “Do butterflies make butter?” Or, “Why is that man yelling at us?” (which is a story for another day). But the most common question, even from the older kids who had gotten used to the trips to Grandma’s house was, “Are we there yet?” Of course the most frequent response was, “It will be a while” “Not quite yet,” or, “We’re almost there.”
Likewise, when asked the question, “Are we using dynamic content within the direct marketing industry to its full potential?” I have to step back, assess, and say, “Not quite yet.” In fact, we may be only scratching the surface. I say that because, while dynamic content intellectually appeals to our instincts that human beings will respond better to information that is tailored to them, the data to drive this action and the “quost” factor (the confluence of quality and cost) are not yet fully developed.
Don’t misunderstand me; some parts of the direct mail space are utilizing dynamic content quite well. If you’re in need of a new car, for instance, chances are that you will receive multiple mailings of the precise make and model you currently have and tempting you with a brand new model of the same color. Auto manufacturers understand your preferences and wishes and are marketing to you on a highly personalized level with variable color, images and copy. On the other hand, if you are marketing dental insurance, chances are that the Cost Per Acquisition of adding dynamic assets may currently cause you to pause.
Strides continue to be made on both fronts. The onset and refinement of Big Data has resulted in prospect and customer desires, preferences and tendencies becoming a larger part of the analytical mix. Once considered highly complex, databases of information are now commonly spitting out highly personalized versions of information with fine-tuned precision. Even predictive modeling has become a common practice.
On the equipment side, we’ve reached the tipping point at which quality and cost improvements make the use of full-color personalized data more practical each quarter. Digital equipment, running at high speed with great quality, is now in the marketplace and clients are flocking to its ease of use and higher return on investment.
Adjustments to Workflow are Required
While data and the physical ability to produce dynamic content is important and improving, equally key for this practice to come to fruition is to incorporate the next evolution of workflow and the tools to manage it. Just as it is less effective to use the right offer with the wrong prospect or customer, it does no good to implement dynamic content without reengineering your current workflow.
As a modern day pioneer of the use of dynamic content, IWCO Direct realized this critical factor early on and works with our clients to establish both the most efficient workflow as well as the tools to streamline the ever-more complex environment it creates—in fact, we insist upon it. Aaron Rasset addressed this last week when he described our Dynamic Content Management solution.
We do this because we know that without putting in the time, and sometimes painful effort to align and manage the front-end, your long term benefits will be compromised, and in our view, the campaign could potentially fail. Our successful customers prove that your efforts will be rewarded. Instead of the old way of managing multiple, complex versions of variable data to personalize offers, you will morph into managing singular versions all while dynamically inputting variable data, images, text and offers—potentially as unique as the individual’s needs, wants, desires, and even tendencies. Cool has become very cool, and getting even better.
While we’ve come a long way on the road to dynamic content, the journey ahead looks even more promising. “Are we there yet?” No, but we are well on our way to an environment that literally changes the way we think, act and market. Enjoy the ride.
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