Nicki Mackin, Co-founder & Managing Director of Relativity IM, specialises in campaign personalisation, data management & customer engagement. Nicki has managed integrated marketing campaigns using the XMPie software for over ten years. In this article, she shares her insights and discusses the opportunities for data-driven omnichannel communications.
Please tell us about the services you deliver with the XMPie platform?
We work mainly with retailers, but also other sectors including automotive, pharmaceutical and financial services. We manage our clients’ data and data-driven marketing, including direct mail.
We’ve been using XMPie software for over ten years, and personalisation has evolved significantly in that time. For us, it has been quite a long journey helping people to understand the power of personalisation – it’s much more sophisticated now than just adding an address or a name. Our first client was an automotive company, and we needed XMPie to do short-run digital print personalised campaigns. XMPie was and still is the strongest personalisation technology on the market.
“We’ve been using XMPie software for over ten years, and personalisation has evolved significantly in that time. It’s much more sophisticated now; it’s your lifestyle, your shopping habits, it’s everything that you do.”
As a company, we are immersed in the power of data, but not all companies understand how to gather and harness their data. Since digital has exploded people now understand that personalisation is your lifestyle, your shopping habits; it’s everything that you do. People expect to receive bespoke communications now. When we started, marketers weren’t even personalising emails; everything was generic.
We help brands to better utilise their data; to drive communications, segment their audiences, customise their documents and personalise to every individual.
Are the personalisation challenges the same for print and digital touchpoints?
Everyone understands that digital communications nowadays can be very targeted, very data‑driven and very personalised. Yet the minute it goes offline, everyone is afraid of the cost. People think that personalising print is expensive, so they separate print from the rest of the campaign and make it generic. This is counterproductive, as personalised print makes a huge impact and gains higher conversions.
With XMPie, the print touchpoint doesn’t need to be siloed off; it’s a myth that personalising print – even as a completely separate touchpoint – is expensive. In fact, a small increase in initial cost actually yields a much better return on investment.
How has your business evolved over the years?
We are very focused on the data and analysis side for our clients, as well as managing their communications. Using clients’ customer data and transaction details, we provide data analysis, segmentation, such as the best-performing customers, and launch targeted communications campaigns.
For us the data is critical; we give our clients more insight into their business and better results. For instance, we launched a campaign for a retail client who wanted to send generic brochures to all customers. We demonstrated how they could identify customers within a certain distance of their nearest store, send them a personalised data-driven letter, along with the brochure, and get a higher campaign response rate.
“The data is critical; we give our clients more insight into their business and better results.”
Over the years, we’ve become experts over the entire process – from data profiling, segmentation right the way through to execution and results analysis. We help clients to execute their campaigns the right way, a better way, and with the highest return on investment. And we do the post-campaign analysis to show how the campaign has performed.
Tell me about your work with the charity sector?
The charity market is an interesting one because they embraced personalisation pretty much at the beginning; they’ve always been doing it. They’ve always had different donor types: direct debit donors, lapsed donors, big donors, small donors. The sector understands the value of segmenting the audience for a communication campaign.
When XMPie came along even more automation was possible, and there were fewer errors. The artwork could be evocative and still highly personalised. XMPie enables different graphics for different audiences to motivate response, rather than using one standard picture for everybody.
How has the GDPR impacted your business?
GDPR is good for print. One client had an 80% drop in email marketing opt-ins after GDPR, but the customers continued to respond to the print pieces in droves. With email, many recipients opt-out, or the communication goes to the spam box or trash.
With direct mail, we see much better response rates, primarily because our campaigns are targeted. We don’t do typical marketing campaigns where you send a generic communication to everyone on your list. We’ll take time to use the transaction history, understand the data and segment the audience.
Ultimately it’s about engagement – send a smaller campaign to a targeted audience that is open to the relevant messaging.
What are your business challenges?
Bringing the silos together – campaign tasks don’t have to be divided and assigned to different teams. With XMPie, it can all be done by one team – the print, the email marketing, integrating with social media, etc.
“XMPie is still the strongest personalisation technology on the market. Channel integration and bringing silos together is it’s sweet spot.”
Channel integration is XMPie’s sweet spot, but moving marketers from multichannel – where the channels are delivered separately, to omnichannel – where the experience is totally synchronized and designed as a complete customer journey, is a challenge.
What do you love most about what you do?
We are seeing time and time again that personalisation works and that ROI increases. But when a client realises this too it’s a great feeling! It’s incredibly satisfying to run a successful campaign, and when the results are better than past generic campaigns or better than the client could ever dream of is a beautiful moment. When you’ve added six figures to the bottom line, you know that the campaign was worth doing.
Want to learn more about implementing personalisation into your next campaign? Data marketing expert Relativity IM offers data solutions for retailers, businesses [and print service providers]. Find more information on the Relativity IM website.