Real Time Personalization Feed

Data is still King

After a rather amusing response from XM Pie on the last critique of their email marketing, one would think that more attention would have been paid to the next drop.

Despite claims of sending only relevant and highly targeted email, the following communication was recently distributed.

XM Pie Weak Email thats poorly targeted

This sounds like a reasonable offer, until you get to the landing page…

XM Pie Weak Landing Page Callout

The recipient is not a customer. We don’t recommend that marketers send offers to people who do not quality for them.  I suppose it is possible the tactic may motivate a prospect to become a customer in order to participate in a sales pitch, but is it more likely to piss them off for having their time wasted.   That “block sender” button is suddenly more tempting to click.

Take Aways

· Understand your data file – if you don’t know who someone is, be careful what you send them

· Deliver the right message to the right prospect and make sure they qualify for the offer – this is especially true for financing or lease offers – develop personas and segment accordingly BEFORE you market

· If you manage to get a prospect to a landing page, take the opportunity to ask what they are interested in, do not only push information

Stay tuned for insight on CAN-SPAM and making sure your audience has actually opted-in to your communications.

The Three Tiers of Cross Media Marketing

While presenting at TS2 this year, a quick survey of more than 100 marketing managers and executives overwhelmingly agreed with the following:


• My budget is either the same or decreased from previous years

• My staff levels are unlikely to return to post recession levels

• The C-Suite is expecting to see social and cross media channels added to the mix

• There is increasing pressure to prove the ROI of every marketing expenditure


During a recent session I sketched out a diagram that may be useful for marketers looking to see where their organization fits into the scheme of things.  One on extreme is the low budget DIYer who uses a selection of free or inexpensive tools to create and distribute content across various channels.  The reason for this approach may be budgetary or a growth in experience that started with a newsletter to press release and continued to add channels and tools over time.  On the other extreme are the big spenders with fully integrated marketing automation systems and templated content that tie into enterprise level CRM systems that have dedicated support staff.


The challenge of the one side is that the manual process of logging into numerous systems and tools in order to create content is a pain in the backside and the result is multiple pockets of data that must be consolidated, usually without the assistance of a skilled data person.  The big spenders have challenges, too.  In addition to having to foot a six figure bill, front line managers, subsidiaries or division may not have access to the resources to utilize these systems to meet their emergent and needs.  Big systems tend to be difficult to change and customization is not a simple matter of shooting an email to IT.


Occupying the middle ground are those organizations that either do not have the financial resources to invest in a big system or have decided to spend the money elsewhere and those firms that have stretched into a cross media platform that will do most of what the big solution will do at a fraction of the cost.  Here is a breakdown:


Low Budget DIYers



• Easy to begin

• Low cost or free software products



• Labor intensive

• Data collected in silos

• Difficult to coordinate content across channels

• Difficult to coordinate content across divisions or departments

• Difficult to standardize and control brand, fit, feel and messaging


Estimated annual spend with setup included:   $ 700 - $ 900


Middle Ground

Estimated annual spend with setup included:   $ 1800 - $ 2400



• Blend of low cost and high functionality

• Low cost of entry

• Blend of self service and DIY tools

• Creation of systems by at any level of the organization is possible



• Systems may not perform every task desired

• May not offer complete automation of processes


Big Spenders

Estimated annual spend with setup included:   $ 40,000 to $ 500,000+



• Content can be locked down to only what corporate has approved

• Virtually unlimited customization and channels can be added



• Expensive

• Difficult and time consuming to implement

• Content can be locked down to only what corporate has approved

• Difficult to add products and content downstream


For those managers and executives with large budgets, the choice to select a fully integrated suite may still be worth reconsidering when the extra labor involved could easily be less than the license and setup costs of a huge plan.


Our advice:  For most firms, choose a blended system and create a body of content before you decide to spend the money and time to implement a huge marketing IT project.

New Hewlett-Packard Cross Media Case Study

JFM Concepts is proud to announce the release of a new Hewlett-Packard Case Study. The paper covers how HP used VDP Web to effectively touch multiple channels, products and brands across broad geographic territories. 

The paper details how individual brand managers or their marketing service providers can easily create and execute sustainable cross media campaigns without support from other internal departments.  Download a copy at

This type of variable campaign can be executed without the acquisition of new marketing skills and trained employees, the purchase of new software and licenses, or the addition of expensive hardware. By implementing an automated lead generation system, a large universe of prospects can be narrowed to a list of warm leads which can dramatically improves response rates and Return on Investment (ROI). The entire campaign can be tracked with detailed reporting that is available 24/7 and can include all facets of the campaign.

Special thanks to the Gap Marketing Group for their leadership on this project.

Practice what you Preach – How NOT to Cross Media Market

According to DM News, “Xerox CMO tells marketers to get personal with customers at Digital Marketing Days keynote.” DM News continues that “Marketers should focus on creating personal relationships, like Americans in the 1950s had with their corner grocers, rather than only employing new technologies, Christa Carone, CMO of Xerox, told attendees of the Digital Marketing Days conference in New York June 15.”

Really?  Is that we she thinks?  If Christa believes her own propaganda, maybe she can explain Xerox’s own marketing which contradicts this whole idea.  Take a look at this gimmicky email from XM Pie that came out on June 15th - the very same day Christa was speaking.

XM Pie Weak Email

Now, I admit that I wasn’t at this presentation, but if Xerox, an equipment and software OEM with marketing budgets and staffs larger than most companies can’t manage to pull a quality cross media effort off, how can anyone?  Is XM Pie so hard to use that their definition of personalization and creating a relationship is putting a name in an email in a picture?  Are they serious?  Maybe access to the technical expertise required to launch a sophisticated campaign using XMPie is too far removed from brand managers, or maybe its too expensive or difficult to produce campaigns with meaningful segmentation.

Here are quotes from the XMPie’s page at that are nowhere to be found in the communication sent.

• "Bring relevancy to your marketing by leveraging variable data to tailor messages for each recipient”. The very first bullet point is ignored. How is this message tailored exactly? Nothing in relation to size, industry, needs of the recipient or any other demographic is even considered.

• "Create campaigns with built-in response tracking tools and adjust messaging, offers, and more, on-the-fly”. Where does this occur? There is no personalized or segmented messaging or landing page in the entire piece. The only marketing links send you to where tracking is surrendered to the IT department to be lost forever.

• "Expand your reach with one to one marketing campaigns that span print, email, Web, and mobile”. If Xerox is too cheap to send a coordinated print piece to match, why should they expect anyone else they sell the print equipment for crying out loud!

Other glaring issues:
XM Pie is not listed as a FIFA marketing affiliate at and we suggest you do not tread on or even near FIFA or any other sports trademark owner in your marketing.  The Wall Street Journal reports that FIFA has chased thousands of trademark violators mercilessly.  The NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and others are equally defensive of their brands. Be careful.

This email has a weak call to action.  What is the reason the get started or register?  There is no compelling reason to take any action and no description of what we will get by visiting.

The truth is that elementary marketing efforts are not going to produce decent response rates and will not cover the major investments required to implement and execute image gimmicks like those shown.  Heidi Tolliver-Nigro asked recently if printers were masquerading as MSPs and not walking the walk.  Perhaps the question is the entire industry from the OEMs on down is faking it?

Take Away:
Concentrate your investment on segmenting prospect data, engaging your prospects in a meaningful two way conversation, and presenting relevant information.   Want to sell cross media?  Try practicing what you preach.  Spending a fortune on software that does everything, and none of it well, is a hard investment to recoup.

Cross Media Marketing & Non-Profits – Increasing Donorship

The recession hasn’t been helpful for Non-Profit entities trying to raise money and keep donors engaged.  As people tighten their belts, NFP’s have been struggling to increase donorship, expand volunteerism, and many are struggling just to stay above water.  The question is: “How can I get my message to stand out with minimal expense?”

Not only do NFP’s need to show why their cause is worthy of donations, but also why it is more worthy than others.  The clear answer to disseminate the word is cross media marketing.  With technology available as a SaaS (Software as a Service) application, internal staff can execute successful campaigns to meet annual goals for different initiatives without breaking the bank.  Everyone in the organization is capable of designing full service landing pages or micro sites that can be used to collect new member data, update old members, schedule volunteer time, market events, provide the latest news, and most importantly, provide a mechanism for people to donate. 

Using PURLs, (Personalized URLs), NFP’s have the ability to distribute variable copy/image/videos to direct prospective members to respond to your call to action.  These individual calls to action attract attention and are more likely to trigger response over other forms of direct marketing.   PURLs can be sent via direct mail and also improve performance of email.

NW VDP V1-C_Page_1

For those using static advertisements such as newspapers, banners, radio & TV, and billboards using a general URL, or GURL, as a call to action allows you to track the effectiveness of each marketing channel.  You can still accept donations, schedule an event or provide a newsletter that has specific content off of a static advertisement without the hassle of changing the main web site.  Use these to gauge how you plan to spend your marketing budget for next year based on accurate response metrics.

Internal time for development, maintenance and tracking is reduced to a minimum thanks to integrated cross media technologies.  Staff can launch a new campaign in twenty minutes instead of 20 days. For more information about how cross media can work for your NFP, please contact Josh at 800.735.2578

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn oh my!

With new sites, channels and technologies emerging for marketers every day– who has the time?  Not only do new applications need to be learned, but they need to be used.  Many are great tools, but the result is another data silo of opt-ins and leads. As more companies look to outside providers to accomplish their direct marketing grunt work, it’s essential to create interfaces that are not only easy to use, but can centralize different marketing channels, including data collection and reporting.
Research has shown that prospects require multiple touches to retain marketing messages.  Using different channels within the same application decreases internal time for campaign creation as well as viewing analytics.  Some cross media platforms can integrate with various web-2-print and customer management systems (CRMs), but be sure to consider ease of use and efficiency when choosing a provider.
Marketers will want to consider a platform that can support your client’s scope, provide reliable support for high level campaigns, and offer unlimited, but intuitive workflows.  Allowing integration, your technology provider will be able to print a postcard, send an email, add a purl and track landing page effectiveness – without the hassle of multiple logins, call centers, and data silos.

Selecting Service Providers for Agencies & Marketers

As a follow on to our last post, the discussion around the water cooler and in the conference room turned to the selection process we take in selecting partners.  The top level of features and price are easy to determine.  But the real trick is what will happen when the proverbial s%^t hits the fan and you need help.  This is especially true in any online business venture where third parties provide a part of your service.  Some examples are email, web hosting, SMS text and other portions of cross media campaigns that you may rely on a vendor for.  Of course, if Twitter goes down it effects all marketers equally so its no big deal, if only your portion of a service goes down, watch out.  So what are some of the less than obvious things to consider?

Key Questions:

  • Is there 24 hour customer service that can resolve issues?
  • How can customer service be reached? Is access by email only or is there a direct dial phone?
  • If there is a customer service number, is there competent help available at 0200 or is a trouble ticket the extent of the aid you can get?
  • How critical is the service to your business? If it is a core part of the services you offer to your customer the level of support is far more important.
  • What error handling and monitoring does the vendor have in place? In short, does the vendor discover errors and bugs only after you tell them or do they have a robust system for monitoring errors in real time.
  • What time zone /hemisphere is your provider in? To get them during business hours are you going to have to be up at 0200?

Get detailed answers to these issues ahead of time for critical outsourced systems.  Sales will always say that their firm has great customer service, but get specifics and proof.  Ask about response times from the call center, not just up time guarantees.

The answers may surprise you…

Chose your social media partner carefully…

A critical part of any firm’s marketing mix is that organization's social media marketing strategy.  A change in terms of service or a billing dispute can quickly put your firm at the mercy of a service provider and leave you with a lot of extra work to repair the damage.

1. The technology platform you select has the ability to control content.
Be careful when choosing providers that you are not run out of town by a change in the provider’s terms of service to support favored firms. Recent examples include Apple’s change to their terms of service about content that allowed Sports Illustrated to go ahead with their swimsuit issue but prevented most other organizations from showing bathing suit clad models.

2. What happens if you get cut off or they go down?
We have discovered the hard way that a billing dispute with a social media site can cause painful repercussions.  The conventional wisdom says to link your firm’s websites to a variety of social media but be careful.  Consider carefully the number of locations and difficulty to update web sites, landing pages, email signatures, blog footers, et. al. if, or when, you lose access to one of them.  Keep in mind how much content will need to be republished to change or remove links that are no longer valid.

It is also important not to rely on a single provider to host all your web content.  Spread your content over a variety of social media sites to mitigate the risk of losing a major portion of your web presence in the event they fold or you find yourself in a billing dispute.

Take Aways

  1. Chose your partner with care. A cloud provider can have you at their mercy if they change their terms of service.
  2. Build on a provider model so that your firm can switch content providers and be certain your web presence does not rely on one
  3. Keep in mind the difficulty of updating links in the event a particular provider goes away.

QR Codes & other Hot Items - 2010 VDP Web Webinar Series

Explore QR Codes and other hot marketing trends. Discover how savvy marketers are catching the attention of prospects on the web, in print, and over the airwaves.


Who will benefit from this session?
• Commercial printer management teams
• Agency management teams
• Agency account executives
• Printer sales teams
• Fulfillment and Operations personnel
• In house marketing teams
• MSP consultants and advisors

This session will explore:
• What are QR Codes?
• How QR Codes are used as part of the marketing mix?
• Sample QR codes in print, email, and other channels
• Email and Video links with QR Codes

To register, use the QR Code above on your smart phone or visit

Mercedes Email Saga Continues...

Regular readers of this blog know that I gave been less than complimentary of the email marketing efforts made by Mercedes Benz USA.  I would like to report that they have turned the corner and fugured it out, but alas, no.  The most recent email I received, though much better than previous efforts with clear art and a decent call to action, still managed to violate a central marketing tenet; know your customer.

How hard is it to either survey your customer base to learn about them (which is the ideal method to start a two way dialogue your buyers) or to passively append critical demographic information about them?  I am single with no children.  The following solicitation shows how little it appears that I mean to the firm. If you click on the picture there is a clear view.

 MBUSA_kids copy 
Irrelevant art, copy, and offers will turn off your customer base.  I suppose it is true that it is possible that I have a niece, but that seems like a big stretch.  There is little doubt that poorly targeted marketing communications sent on the basis of incomplete data with irrelevant messages will hurt both the brand and the customer relationship.

Take Away
As marketers shift ever larger portions of their budget away from traditional channels to the web, email, and social media, it is critical to keep in mind the lessons learned in the past 50 years of direct marketing.   There is no excuse, just because the channel is new to your firm, to send irrelevant content to your best prospects – your current customers.  Know your customer and start a two way conversation with them to learn more.