Tech Update: Star Tech18 Oct, 2010 By: Doug McPherson Response
Even Spock would be impressed with all the technology that’s running through the veins of back-end services. Technological and reporting upgrades are continuing to evolve and improve. That’s great news for marketers seeking more return on investment and more from their media buys.
Response wanted to hear directly from the pros about how technology is at play in back-end services so we interviewed five of them. They are:
- Jane Schloth, vice president of OrderMotion Inc., a direct-to-consumer campaign and order management platform company in Boston.
- Jason Pavona, vice president of product management for Litle & Co., a payment management company in Lowell, Mass.
- Nicola de la Salle, vice president of sales and marketing for Thill Logistics/Customer Service Direct, a Neenah, Wis.-based fulfillment and customer service center.
- Scott Richards, chief executive officer of Dial 800, a marketing optimization company in Los Angeles.
- Alan Kleinman, co-founder and principal of Meritus Payment Solutions, a payment management company in Santa Ana, Calif.
Q. What are the most recent and most important technological changes/upgrades in your field that are helping DR marketers maximize ROI and reduce costs?
Schloth: Every marketer, whether in direct response or on Madison Avenue, is moving toward integrating their marketing campaigns to create a consistent message across Web, retail, TV, radio, catalog, direct mail and mobile. The ability for marketers to know what’s happening across all these channels is a constant challenge. That’s where technology comes in. It’s the application of existing technology that’s creating the most significant changes in the DR industry. Not until recently has there even been a campaign and order management platform specifically designed to meet the unique needs of a direct-to-consumer marketer. In the past, marketers had to create, update and maintain their own internal systems, usually costing them a lot of money, aggravation and wasted resources. Even then, the data they need often comes in the form of reports from multiple vendors — marketers still had to input the data into their order management systems. If marketers don’t have an automated system or technology to handle the voluminous data, they’re at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to making effective decisions that impact return on investment or reduce costs. Since many DRTV marketers are not IT experts or may lack the internal resources to create a platform to handle the data, they can never really get true end-to-end visibility of the entire integrated campaign. Ultimately, the application of technology in DR is designed to give marketers ultimate control over their ROI, data, campaigns and vendor partnerships.
Pavona: Smart direct response marketers are making the leap to value-adding service in payments processing. The competition for the more constricted flow of consumer payments has marketers looking at how payment processing can improve their business performance, versus simply stripping out costs — the commodity approach. Better use of technology is also allowing us to advance the performance of payment processing engines: how they capture information, what they capture and how they translate captured data into business intelligence, leveraging advanced reporting and the like to make the data actionable, and, increasingly, to extend its value from your payment operations to your customer loyalty, service and marketing efforts. Let’s not forget the human element either, especially when it comes to accessing people that can provide insight into your information. For example, it is one thing to have great technology and data, but if you don’t have people that help interpret it you may be missing a valuable piece in your organization’s direct response puzzle.
de la Salle: Anyone can pick and pack goods and effectively provide customer service. The key differentiator lies in how the fulfillment house captures, reports and analyzes the customer data. The data hold all of the information that’s key to both the initial campaign’s success and also to the ongoing success of the campaign. With real-time reporting, for example, marketers are able to see the success of a campaign and make fast decisions on how to proceed with the campaign. Based on these informed decisions, edits to the infomercial, telemarketing script and media purchases can be made faster allowing the sweet spot to be achieved in rapid time with less cost incurred.
Richards: Intelligent call routing makes it possible for marketers to maximize their sales by giving the call centers that are closing most successfully a higher percentage of inbound leads. Additionally, more calls can be routed to the best performing agents. And this can all be done in real time.
Kleinman: The most recent changes are alternative payments that compete with the traditional credit cards which include automated clearinghouse, remote deposit capture, mobile payments, person-to-person and more. Also, the Durbin Amendment [an amendment in U.S. financial legislation that shifts the burden of paying interchange fees, the payments that support the administrative and anti-fraud expenses, from merchants who accept a debit card to the financial institutions that issue them] and the potential reduction of interchange costs for debit cards and other prepaid programs are factors.