The Karis Group has built its business speaking for its clients. But the company, a mediation service for uninsured and underinsured medical patients, has also flourished thanks to a mail strategy that allows it to speak effectively to its clients as well.
As part of its communications efforts, the firm sends out thousands of thank-you cards each year to the patients with whom the company works to set up affordable medical payment plans.
“We want to put the individual we’re working for in the position to focus on getting well,” says Thad Puckett, a manager at Karis.
To keep the outreach plan running smoothly, the company relies on an increasingly popular new marketing application — Cloud2You™ — that is enabling a growing number of companies to streamline communications.
Managing mail campaigns
Created by Advanced Image Direct, Cloud2You emerged after Advanced Image identified a need for companies to better manage their increasingly integrated mail campaigns, says the vice president of sales, Perry Wilson.
“Advanced Image Direct produces millions of pieces of mail per week, sometimes daily, for large corporations across the U.S.,” says Wilson, whose company is based in Fullerton, Calif.
“We found that we could get, literally, tons of mail out the door quickly, but getting a small mailing, even one piece, could be difficult and cumbersome for many organizations.”
Currently, about 230 companies use the software — many, like Karis, pressed by a need to speed their communications out to consumers ever faster in today’s wired world.
While each company’s needs differ, clients and Cloud2You officials both point to three key areas where the software has the most impact.
Cloud computing is a common technical concept that combines shared program servers and data to let users store and access information on the Internet. Accessible from computers, cell phones and other handheld devices, Cloud2You allows customers to remotely mail everything from postcards to invoices.
Puckett says this has saved his company countless hours. “We were finding that our advocates had to hand-write every single thank-you card,” he recalls. “Cloud2You mail allowed us to send those notes with the click of a button.”
Various products from the U.S. Postal Service® can be accessed through Cloud2You, including greeting cards, envelopes and basic retail supplies. Cloud2You also lets users customize graphics and literature to include company names, logos and contact information before uploading the items for Postal delivery. A “send” command moves the materials through a variable data print process and enters them into the Postal stream. Meanwhile, Intelligent Mail® barcodes work with the software to confirm delivery to mailboxes.
“What we have done is make real, physical mail as easy as e-mail,” says Wilson.
2. Efficient engagement
Since Cloud2You hit the market in late 2009, Advanced Image Direct has noticed a pendulum swing: Clients who once relied heavily on only web advertising are discovering (or rediscovering) the power of direct mail.
“E-mail marketers are embracing the physical mail channel because it is effective and differentiates their business,” says Wilson. “The e-mail marketers are becoming our friends because they know that e-mail can be invasive. Sometimes it goes to spam folders. We rifle through e-mails all day long and don’t pay them any attention. But people take a moment with their Postal mail.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Wilson doesn’t value electronic media. He points out that Cloud2You mailings can work cooperatively with other channels, especially digital.
Eddie Alvarran, business alliance manager for the U. S. Postal Service, echoes this notion: “What we would encourage is an overall, integrated marketing approach that incorporates direct mail. We understand that an overall approach is going to be the most effective means of having a successful marketing campaign. What we feel is that, by combining both approaches, there are fewer limitations.”
These reduced limitations, says Wilson, are resulting in increased customer traffic. He predicts that by mid-2011 more than 40,000 employees of companies that subscribe to the software are expected to use Cloud2You. (Despite the ease of use, though, Advanced Image Direct still sends hundreds of thousands of mail pieces daily on behalf of major clients, Wilson adds.)
Jay Adams, CEO of MakesBridge, a company that specializes in delivering online marketing automation solutions for customers, says they’ve started turning their user base onto mail. “What we’re really excited about in making Cloud2You available for our customers is it helps address the challenges of electronic media. Mail doesn’t always reach the inbox and our customers are not legally allowed to use e-mail to market to individuals after they opt out. Without mail, the $20 to $30 spent and all the effort made to acquire and develop a prospect is lost.”
In response to e-mail’s limitations, MakesBridge developed M-Post,™ a Cloud2You-supported feature in their marketing automation platform. M-Post is a method of ordering the production and delivery of promotional and correspondence material by mail. Customers, such as a Manhattan real estate firm, use M-Post automation capabilities to mail relevant listings material to clients who visit “high value” pages on their website.
“The real estate firm has 500 very busy agents,” Adams says. “They could earn a $50,000 commission for spending less than $10 to print and post the brochure. And since it was automatic, it didn’t cost them any time to make it happen. Salespeople don’t do anything except determine when a target should get a piece of mail.”
3. Cost-effective accessibility
Of course, these salespeople can’t determine whether a marketing message gets noticed. But as Alvarran points out, direct mail has a big advantage over digital offerings when it comes to reach, as mail is undeterred by spam filters and other “avoidance technology.”
“We are able to reach every Postal mailbox,” says Alvarran. “With mail, it’s 100-percent access.”
Reliability and significance are traits of mail advertising that also can’t be underestimated, Wilson says. “By making physical mail as easy as sending an e-mail, even from portable devices, because of Cloud2You, most — or all — of the previous obstacles have been overcome,” he adds. “Many large companies realize that welcoming a customer begins at the point of sale. As a result, communicating with customers via the U.S. mail channel is effective for forging meaningful relationships.
“When you send physical mail, you are sending something of real value that lets the recipients know you care about them and their business. Most, if not all, people open their mail when they are most receptive to your messaging.”B-to-C Marketing, Case Studies, CRM/Customization, Data Management, e-Commerce, Integrated Marketing, List Management, Loyalty, Personalization, Strategy, Targeting, Technology