Jul17

Digital Marketing Is Marketing

Rima thumbnailAs I sit here on the 4th of July, finally getting a chance to relax and look back on the year we’ve had so far, I realize how much has changed in such a short period of time. Almost 7 years ago, I joined our tiny, yet mighty interactive group and have lived through an ever-changing period of time. Websites became more than just a destination.  Customer Relationship Marketing Programs became real conversations. Email cadences were written with metrics in place. Banner ads evolved from static images to interactive, expanding drivers. Applications were being developed to help patients with adherence and physicians with practice management. Conversations were started about creating online campaigns.

Fifteen years ago, “digital” was optional. Some clients and brands leveraged new technology, some didn’t. Maybe a brand launched a website. Expectations were different. Sure, there were the core branding elements and messages, but there weren’t conversations about level of interactivity or even an “online” campaign. Pretty basic.  We believed in the “field of dreams” model—build it and they will come. Metrics and determining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) wasn’t a discussion. We truly didn’t know what we didn’t know.

In addition to learning a lot about the newly evolving digital landscape, I also gained a wealth of knowledge about technology. I am an avid science information seeker at heart. I live to learn something new every day and I love being challenged. The evolving digital landscape definitely makes life interesting for all who embrace it.

Fast forward to today…teams are integrated. We are tasked with being multichannel marketers. Campaigns have offline and online components. Metrics are established for all tactics. Digital marketing is marketing. And with so much change already behind us, I wonder what the next few years will bring…. And I expect us as always to be right in front, leading the way!

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Feb5

Analytics Drives the Contact Center

Call-Centers

“This call may be monitored and recorded for training purposes.”That’s a familiar refrain to all of us who’ve called into a call center in the last 15 years or so. In the past, these recordings were used for exactly what the recordings stated—company supervisors would listen to them to perform employee evaluations. Recently, however, companies are driving a change from this traditional tactical approach, moving toward a more strategic focus by mining this mostly untapped goldmine of data coming from the voices of their customers.

Most companies are now changing their focus and targeting the untapped opportunity in the recordings of their customer interactions. We need to do the same, and as we do, we are learning more and more.

Identifying opportunity in contact center communications with analytics

The call center (which should be referred to as a “contact center” because it does a lot more than just handle phone calls) is a place that more people interact with on a daily basis than see the average advertisement. It is also where customers and prospects provide priceless feedback on the products and services (including customer service) that our clients offer. The continued reduction in the cost of data, salesforce.com products, and voice-identification cloud-based software now allows us to identify important trends, opportunities and risks in the conversations our clients have with their most important constituents.

Companies should record 100% of their calls. If they do, by using call analytics, we can identify potential issues before they negatively impact the company. For example, not long ago we were able to identify a trending problem and take steps to address it before it resulted in a huge issue. The issue was with direct mail, but it was found at the contact center level with the advanced methodologies we used in our contact center analytics. Our client believed (and we validated and proved) that call analytics helped proactively save them thousands of dollars while gaining thousands of incremental Rx’s (think Rx lift).

Get rid of the contact center silo

As the new insights from customer interactions become available, the traditional silos between the contact center and other marketing areas are coming down. The untouched data mined from contact centers can be used as essential building blocks to inform multiple aspect of the business. We need to push our clients to eliminate the informational silos and share data, especially within the contact center. It can, has, and will result in tremendous new opportunities.

More than anything, gaining real-world customer feedback can help us fine-tune what and whom to target, understand how targets respond to information, and determine how they should receive information. Using the insights of this “big data,” we can transform how our customers think. Using the contact center to find and deliver what we all already know we must deliver—the right message to the right person in the right way at the right time—can help produce a guaranteed ROI.

Optimizing ROI with contact center analytics

The No. 1 thing teams, clients, us, the President, and probably God want to see from any new campaign or program is a positive return on investment (ROI). Contact center recordings and analytics will provide a measurable ROI to our clients and customers—all by using the voice of the contact center to find gaps and make needed changes as they are found.

And given the cost savings, improved efficiency, customer retention and new opportunities identified by the campaign, companies are able to see ROI timelines that are measured in weeks, not months or years.

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Jul5

Will Health Plans Of The Future Take Care Of Widows And Orphans?

“Widows and orphans” is a long-established phrase that connotes one of the neediest segments of societies. Throughout time, communities have been asked (or commanded, as in the Bible) to support them in some way. One modern-day version of this support takes the form of estate planning. In the 20th century, stocks that provided a relatively high degree of safety (from declines in price) and steady dividends were nicknamed “widows and orphans” because they were good to have in the portfolio and provided relatively steady income. Prevalent among this type of stock were utilities. Utilities offered consistent returns because state or federal governments had established these companies as monopolies. In return for their monopoly status, governments regulated (or seen another way, guaranteed) a specific level of profits after fixed and variable costs were covered.

In 2012, a new group of companies that may fulfill the role of utilities is health plans. The Affordable Care Act fixes the medical loss ratio (MLR) of health plans at 80%, or 85% for large health plans. Here, the medical loss ratio is a metric that means 85% of health plan revenues must be spent on patient care. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that 15% of revenues is left for overhead expenses and profits. So, the level of profits is regulated, just like those of utilities.

The business leaders of health plans are not settling for lower profits, which are estimated to fall from the 7-8% range to 3-5%. Health plans are already diversifying and are either acquiring or developing higher margin businesses. Here are a few examples:

Information technology (IT) or information management (IM) is a popular area. The thought here is: instead of assuming the financial risk of insuring patients, acquire the financial and actuarial know-how to do so, and sell that expertise to others who will assume the risks (and the lower profit levels). The Wall Street Journal says that managed care plans have made about 20% of their merger-and-acquisition deals with IT firms since 2010, up from about 7% in 2007. They’ve reduced their M&A of other insurers from 39% to 27% in the same period.

  • Aetna purchased Medicity in 2011, a company that sells software that transmits health care data across the different systems in different provider offices
  • Aetna also purchased Prodigy Health Holdings, which will allow midsize companies the financial and information knowledge to offer self-insurance options

Other insurers are purchasing physician practices. Humana purchased Concentra, which runs urgent- and occupational-care clinics. The thinking here is to exert more control over physicians and other providers, optimize their approach to patient care, and lower costs (and fatten profits).

Some insurers are expanding internationally, where legal and regulatory (and profit) constraints may be less onerous. Cigna has entered India in the form of a joint venture with TTK.

And recently, WellPoint acquired a contact lens company. Simply, the margins in vision companies are higher, and this is also an opportunity for health plans to cement relationships with consumers without the “middle men” of physicians or external opticians.

What does this mean for marketing communications?

Payer marketers traditionally target 3 audience levels: the payer level, the provider level, and the patient level. While these audiences will remain in the evolving health care landscape, they may need to be approached differently:

  • At the payer level: analytics groups may possess powerful data that show differences in cost or performance for specific drug therapies. Can marketers acquire and leverage these data to reinforce the value of our drugs or other therapies? Conversely, if sophisticated IT systems detect physician deviations from practice protocols sooner, traditional formulary controls such as prior authorizations or step edits may be enhanced and present bigger obstacles to prescriptions
  • At the physician level: if physicians work directly for health plans, their flexibility to practice or prescribe will be constrained more than if they worked on their own. Will drug marketing messages that only contain safety, efficacy, and effectiveness be enough, or will additional message components be needed? How will sales force pull-through campaigns need to be engineered if a greater degree of control binds both formularies and prescribers?
  • At the patient level: cost pressures may make insurance plans a bit more rigid. Out-of-network (or non-formulary) options may be sparse and much more expensive. What value proposition will convince the member/patient to pay for the appropriate therapy?

No one knows what the future will bring. Even if health plans do transform themselves in the 21st century and “take care” of widows and orphans in a hypothetical role as “utilities,” we can probably guess that many payer audiences will still be eager for high-quality information that demonstrates value for each health care intervention. Most likely, health care marketing communications will have challenges and goals that are similar to those of today, yet slightly more difficult.

Readers, will heath plans’ transformations affect drug and device marketing significantly?

 

 

Sources:

  1. King James Bible (James 1:27).
  2. Do “widow and orphan” stocks still exist? Investopedia.com. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/analyst/121802.asp#axzz1x7O6I4Dw. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  3. Reforms prod insurers to diversify. The Wall Street Journal. May 12, 2011. http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703643104576291022457851278.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  4. To find new revenue streams, insurers are branching out into nontraditional areas. From Health Plan Week. http://www.henryloubet.com/news030512.htm. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  5. WellPoint to buy 1-800-contacts. The Wall Street Journal. June 4, 2012. http://professional.wsj.com/article/TPBWR0000020120604e8640002u.html. Accessed June 4, 2012.

 

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Jun14

B2B2C – The New Normal

As the marketing world evolves and social media become the go-to source for information, Business to Business to Customer (B2B2C) is now the new norm. To take an innovative approach to B2B2C, it’s important that we now partner with strong companies that can give as large a reach as would be expected from an Ogilvy & Mather company or even a WPP company.

A good place to start is a nonprofit organization. Working with nonprofits is always a win-win—as we grow our own business, the nonprofit grows their business, and the company that we’re all working for gets extended reach and higher ROI with minimal costs. How to do this or get this started? Here’s how…

1. Differentiation From Your Competition

This is perhaps the most important benefit for a nonprofit these days. With so many nonprofit organizations (latest U.S. count of nonprofit organizations was 1.5 million, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics), it’s easy to get lost in the masses. Worse, people are beginning to get jaded when they hear about a worthy nonprofit organization—almost as if they view having a nonprofit organization as more of a trend than anything else.

This means you constantly have to vie for attention from consumers—your donors, in other words. It also means you need a way to stand out. A nonprofit organization marketing partnership is your ticket to doing just that.

2. More Resources and Revenue for Your Organization

Even though nonprofits stand for some of the most important elements of our society, few organizations have access to a lot of marketing muscle and funding. On top of that, a lot of nonprofits lack even the manpower needed to get their message out.

Joining forces with a corporation through a nonprofit organization marketing partnership solves those problems. The corporation then benefits from your knowledge of your nonprofit organization, what it stands for, and how best to support it, while you benefit from a bigger marketing budget and the workforce within a company.

3. Nonprofit Organization Marketing Helps With Nonprofit Organization Branding

Nonprofit organization marketing frees you from confinement to the traditional route of building a donor list and systematically asking for funding. Instead, you get access to different ways to launch publicity campaigns that put an entirely new face on your nonprofit organization efforts.

Essentially, nonprofit organization marketing is a way to go far beyond fundraising. It’s a way to effectively produce massive education and public awareness initiatives and inevitably get noticed by the right types of citizens.

4. Greater Accountability and Present-Day Relevance

A nonprofit organization marketing relationship with a company gives your organization a fresh dose of credibility and accountability. The modern-day market calls for a great deal of transparency in the marketplace. This makes the multiple communication channels used within a nonprofit organization marketing campaign an easier way for nonprofits to share information with this audience.

5. Solutions on a Global Scale

Most people agree that today’s public challenges affect virtually everybody, especially when you start talking about environment, food availability, and clean water. Yet, most of these challenges are too big for any single nonprofit to take on.

Nonprofit organization marketing partnerships bring companies and nonprofits together in admirable joined efforts. Even better, the issues these partnerships support often align with the interests of government. Imagine what would happen if all three sectors—nonprofits, corporations, and governments—responded jointly to the bigger problems affecting society. It would mean huge advances in the amount of resources and energy devoted to solving the world’s problems.

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May16

The Art of the Acronym: CRM Isn’t Just CRM When It’s MCM

Customer Relationship Marketing, Non-Personal Promotion, and Direct-to-Consumer are all concepts in marketing that aim to create the most important communication with your target. Whether the communication happens on the phone, on the Internet or in the form of direct mail and/or email, the interaction with your target or prospect should be informed by customer intelligence. The practice of building customer acumen into every interaction, and listening to the response so the next communication can keep getting better, isn’t at the core of intelligent Multi-Channel Marketing—it is Multi-Channel Marketing (MCM).

We talk about “discovery,” or new response channels that can be stored on our database to help our clients understand not only what the value of their targets is, but also what part of the target lifecycle , and what that target’s significance is to the client business as well. These bits of found knowledge are important insights that can be made useable by Marketing Analytics, and they really do accrue value over time. Building a roadmap for including analytics is a step-by-step process.

Analytics Creates the Multi-Channel Roadmap

1.  Building Informational Assets With Strategic Discovery

Often the first engagement with new clients is to develop some customer-focused and market-focused analytical benchmarks that can be used to help make decisions about new marketing campaigns and, more often than not, help forecast ROI for each campaign. Many of our clients don’t have the time to look or simply don’t want to find insights that can come from a 360° view of their customers. We are looking for uniqueness such as target lifecycle stages and target value or segment.  This Strategic Discovery Process begins to answer questions about customers that can drive our Multi-Channel campaign design and how we measure the success of it.

2.  Segmentation—Giving Your Targets the Attention They Need

Normally, a segmentation system is designed to be helpful in driving messaging tone and focus while identifying the proper message to deliver. Segments should have the correct classification by one or more characteristics in order to realize which of your targets will need what type of attention. The perfect segment should meet specific standards:

  • It’s internally harmonized
  • It’s externally harmonized
  • The target responded similarly
  • It can be reached uniformly (through all the MCM channels)

3.  Campaign Targeting, Testing and Analysis

Each campaign plan team needs to establish a clear method for campaign targeting and testing for maximizing results. We need to have a mandate to check the boxes on each of these components:

  • The campaign design should include a consistent “test and learn” approach that can be carried out from one campaign to the next with new learning goals building upon findings from previous campaigns. Add to this a method for building a business case for each campaign to predict ROI and help with prioritization of the campaign changes.
  • When the targeting and testing method for each campaign is recognized, make sure to carefully document this process for potential reproduction.
  • Develop a protocol for predictive analytics for each campaign—whether models will be created for the pilot phase, or be built on results for future stages of campaign development.
  • Of course each campaign needs an established methodology for back-end campaign analysis—which will be documented for future use and roll out.
  • Establish best practices of reporting on campaigns—different types of reports for different levels of management are usually required, and this practice would be established early on in the campaign design process.

4.  Integrate Analytics for Response Management

As marketers seek to embrace target engagement, their presence takes on singular importance. Multi-Channel marketers need to examine how to bring direct marketing and web activity more closely together for:

  • Fulfilling targets’ needs by providing immediate messages relevant to them on a personal level.
  • Measuring directly ascribes and personally identifiable conversion results from campaigns that cannot be easily achieved through traditional methods, such as Non-Personal Promotion (NPP) or Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertisements.

5.  Identify Opportunities for Impactful Insights

We normally use survey methods both to collect critical data needed to drive Multi-Channel Marketing programs/campaigns and to build predictive analytics.

  • Evaluate whether there is data you wished you had for campaigns, but that is not available from any source
  • Behavioral surveys with compound analyses are highly useful for identifying the feature and proper mix for plans as well as prices that consumers are willing to pay for those features.
  • Determine if there is a proof of concept for the use of primary research to devise targeting strategies and campaign design.

By creating a checklist of these five stops on your Analytics Road Map, you can incorporate your target intelligence into Multi-Channel Campaigns and deliver greater relevance, better results, and promise a constant ROI…without hesitation.

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