As the understanding and acceptance of technology as a marketing vehicle grows on an almost daily basis the fusion between marketers and technologists is also growing.  The small group of visionaries who saw the Internet as a new frontier really have impacted the world in so many ways.  Both positively and negatively I suppose.

I can remember the days when “the marketing folks” ideas and thoughts were so limited that the concept of building and marketing to an email list was so extremely creative the didn’t know where to start.  I can also remember the day just a month or so ago when I was visiting a client who’s statement was, “We have to figure out a way to get around all those spam filters.”  – Uh, maybe stop sending spam?  😉

The greatest thing about technology, like other things I suppose, is that there is constant innovation.  It’s sometimes pretty easy to add a few more lines of code to an application and give it a new life or purpose.  And, if you look at marketing methods as modules if you will, it’s also becoming increasingly easy to find ways of combining them to increase results.

About 3 years ago I had a client whose membership base was in the 350,000-400,000’s.  They sold an insurance product.  Their members either paid monthly or annually by credit card which presented a problem that technology could solve.  The sheer volume of expiring credit cards each month was overloading them with both follow-up and back-end labor expense – until we hit the scene.

See, at the beginning they would start sending direct mail to clients 2 months out, 1 month out, 2 weeks out and if they still had no response their sales department would call them.  To make matters worse, the direct mail piece asked these people to call into the call center and update their credit card.  You would think it would be obvious to integrate technology at this point – but some people just didn’t get it.

Now, don’t laugh – because this is all so obvious but – We started by building an online credit-card updating system – easy stuff.  Then rather than direct mail at the beginning we’d hit them with a few emails – they were already customers and this was important so it was OK.  Then if still no response 1 month out two things would happen, first, they’d get a voice marketing call directing them to the website or to call in (I’ll explain this in a minute), then they would also get a letter in the mail as well as another email.

Voice marketing is a technology which integrates computers and automated messages – yes, just like when the president calls you and asks you for your vote- that’s voicebroadcasting – and there are both good and bad applications for this technology which I’ll tell you about later.  There were also two separate voicebroadcast messages used – one for a live ear (if someone answered) and one for the voicemail/answering machine.

But, we accomplished our goal in a HUGE way.  We reduced their call center volume by about 5,000 calls per month – there is a huge cost savings here with no man-labor needed for these calls.  By changing and tuning the method of capturing an updated card we also increased the response rate of people actually updating their cards – so more ongoing policy value – HUGE.

Here’s the savings roundup:
1) dramatically lowered mail & printing
2) dramatically lowered inbound calls (by about 200 per day)
3) increased actual conversion by I believe 10%

And, if my memory serves me correctly we created a 5000% ROI (that was a number from three years ago and I’d be willing to bet that it’s still paying off thru today).  Yes, three years later, they are still reaping the rewards and saving money.

That’s the beauty of automation – and yes, merging it with marketing because when you do drive someone to that credit card update page/site you are also able to hit them up for a policy upgrade, a referral to a friend, etc.