One-to-one marketing not for all

Not every marketeer is ready to take on one-to-one marketing as it requires effort from various parties to make it a success, says industry watcher.

SINGAPORE--One-to-one marketing, which emphasizes personalized interactions with customers, may be considered by some marketers as the holy grail for fostering greater customer loyalty and better return on marketing investment. However, an industry watcher noted that various parties must be in place for true one-to-one marketing to happen.

Lisa Watson, chairman of Direct Marketing Association (DMA) of Singapore, was speaking at a media briefing during the launch of the Fuji Xerox 1:1 Experience Service here Tuesday. The new service by the printing solutions company aims to help firms develop one-to-one direct marketing programs, which deliver hyper-personalized messages across media channels such as print, e-mail, Web sites and SMS (short message service).

DMA is one of the partners for the 1:1 Experience Service and will provide Fuji Xerox with advice on government regulations and make sure the service follows the ethics of direct marketing.

Although Watson praised the service for taking one-to-one communication to a new level, she noted that the partnership should not be seen as advice from the association for companies to do more one-to-one marketing

"True one-to-one marketing takes real effort," said Watson. "It takes a company like Fuji Xerox to put the product together and provide the framework. It also takes technology like [XMPie, the software used in 1:1 Experience Service,] to marry the data the right way [and to produce cross-media campaigns with variable data for one-to-one marketing]."

Marketing agencies also play a part in one-to-one marketing, she added. However, agencies will need to have knowledge in this area of customer relationship management (CRM) as there is a difference between one-to-one marketing and simply producing creative design work, noted Watson.

Pick right strategy, not medium
With the various marketing channels available, organizations are confused about which to invest in and the ROI (return on investment) for the different channels of their direct marketing, said Helene Blanchette, go-to-market strategy manager, international business group for Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific.

Instead of focusing on which channels to invest in, Blanchette said organizations should think of the strategy to take. Compared with mass marketing, one-to-one marketing requires organizations to talk to their customers in the way they want to be spoken to, offer products which cater to their profiles, and be completely relevant to the customers' demographics.

While Fuji Xerox does not want to limit the industries suitable for one-to-one marketing, Blanchette noted that some industries are "naturally good" for this model.

Industries such as banking, telecommunications, insurance, automobile and healthcare are better candidates, where a constant relationship with the customer is required, she said, adding that most of these industries already have data on their customers, which can be used to create conversations with them.

To prove the effectiveness of customized one-to-one communication compared with standard communication, Blanchette founded 1:1 Lab in Canada back in 2004.

Over the five years, 22 companies participated in the Lab to scientifically test the difference between customized one-to-one communication and a standard one. The Lab would evaluate the outcome by comparing results between the two, with standard communication as the control group and customized communication as the experimental group.

AIA Singapore was a 1:1 Lab participant. The company had used direct mail and other traditional approaches in the past, and wanted to find new ways to profile its customers and provide timely and accurate product offerings.

In the test, AIA Singapore customers received customized postcards depending on their demographic profile, with a link to a personalized URL where there was a birthday coupon waiting for them to download.

At the end of the test, 86 percent of the users who visited the personalized URL also took the Life Assessment Survey, while 50 percent of users downloaded the birthday coupons. It was also reported that for some age groups the closing rate was six times higher.

Reader's Digest Canada was also a participant of 1:1 Lab, with the aim to grow the response rate and see if customer purchases could be increased by cross-selling products using business intelligence. Previously, the company had a strict product line marketing approach. The three different tests it ran utilizing one-to-one marketing strategies showed an increase of sales from 16 percent to 74 percent.

Fuji Xerox has now brought 1:1 Lab to market and renamed it the 1:1 Experience Service.

Blanchette noted that the printing solutions company will be working with XMPie, which provides the software solutions to execute customized cross-media campaigns, direct marketing agencies which have been certified in 1:1 Experience Service, as well as premier partners responsible for delivering printed products.