Insert marketers taking a data-driven approach can drive conversions by more precisely targeting customers based on their individual profiles and past behavior.
“[A message] must be targeted, it must be relevant, and it must be timely to the customer…. Selling a car seat to someone isn’t useful if the kid is turning 13,” says Grant Miller, VP of global strategic product management and North American sales in Pitney Bowes‘ Document Messaging Technologies unit, whose solutions combine printing and analytics to offer intelligent inserting.
Health insurance provider Humana uses data from clinics, pharmacies, and its marketing department to serve more relevant offers to 4 million customers. Health plan members receive offers and information depending on the patient’s condition within the company’s explanation of benefits (EOB), a program called Smart EOB.
These messages might include personalized drug recall and interaction information, an offer on a blood-sugar monitor to diabetes patients, or enrollment offers for programs dedicated to parents of newborns, says Jennifer Danner, process manager at Humana.
Danner did not reveal response data, but says the three-year-old Smart EOB program has been successful as compared to industry averages. Members have a strong preference for it over the traditional statement, Danner adds.
Managing data at a large scale is the main challenge in targeting inserts.
Another concern is the “freak factor”–an offer so dead-on targeted to individual consumers that it makes them afraid for their privacy, says Glen Wordekemper, VP of global product management at payment processor First Data. Given these concerns,
Miller emphasizes that transaction data is used anonymously. Over the past decade, inserts have been designed to drive online traffic, which creates attribution issues, notes Leon Henry, CEO of Leon Henry Inc., which specializes in direct marketing and inserts.
“If [customers] go [online], you are not sure who’s the original source of the inquiry. That’s currently a bit of a problem,” he says. “You have a lot of people who want to use [inserts] to drive traffic to the website and then you can’t tell where it came from.”
Wordekemper notes that QR codes or coupon-based offers can alleviate this pain point.
More recently, companies have transitioned to linking inserts to loyalty efforts such as Bank of America‘s BankAmeriDeals, which uses a solution from Cardlytics to serve targeted offers, based on purchase history, to cardholders within online statements.
Customers save these offers to their account and redeem them after using the card to pay.
Tara Burke, SVP of marketing and communications at Bank of America, says the program will expand to mobile statements, but adds statement inserts will continue to play an important role in communicating with customers.
The response rates for targeted efforts are significantly greater than those of untargeted inserts. Wordekemper says he’s seen the “right offer” double response rates. And Cardlytics estimates a 20% click-through rate on targeted offers, of which 20% lead to conversions, says Rod Witmond, the company’s SVP of marketing and consumer experience.