Many reading this joined our industry when multichannel meant producing both print and putting PDFs on the web. We all had a lot of fun making communications look better. We added color. We added marketing to transactional documents. We adapted designs to be cool for the customers despite regulatory constraints. We were the life of the party, and it was loads of fun for a long time. But we aren’t always invited to the parties they are having today. Why not and how do we get back on the guest list?
Right now, the party is being organized around mobile-centric projects, which receive more initial funding with a lot less questioning than non-mobile projects. The mobile-centric group has the funding and mindshare of the organization, so they are the coolest people at the party. In essence, they get to choose the DJ and make the guest list.
Recently, I had an interesting discussion with a client who explained that their digital team keeps growing, while the transactional communication team has remained constant. This person noted that the difference in growth rates was due to efficiency. The transactional team remained constant while delivering more communications for more lines of business without adding additional infrastructure, software or costs. The digital team, however, has to hire new people, buy new software and make redundant custom core system integrations at an ever-increasing rate. The digital guest list is getting larger, but adding a lot of costs to the party.
How to secure your place on the guest list
Pointing out efficiency is a great opportunity to get an invitation back—because you do have something powerful to bring to the party. The communications you already design have incredible data integration, manipulation and formatting processes that help you navigate valuable core systems with ease and integrity. Your content ingestion skills and design governance skills are also strong. Your reporting and archival processes are bulletproof. You can bring this skill and discipline to the party at a greater efficiency rate, but to do so, you’re going to have to learn some new dance moves.
This is an event where you’re probably not going to walk in and change all of the music, which is OK, because new music means a new kind of fun. The newer channels have more design options and more built-in analytics capabilities. You’re going to have to learn the moves required to design like the digital teams. The new channels are less waterfall and more agile in approach, so let’s learn to appreciate the music that is being played and take some cues from the digital team’s design approaches.
Digital channels have a built-in friendliness towards analytics that makes it easier to adjust messaging, design and content while the application is operational. It’s easier to react quickly when the desired results aren’t working. It is important to look at what we can do to our communications to make them fit into the new style of communication technologies.
Additionally, it’s possible—and necessary—to make our non-digital communications more friendly in the age of analytics. In fact, here are some things you can do right away, no matter what technology you are using to produce communications:
• Your production reports, if reformatted, are almost identical to the digital-only teams’ dashboards. Start to report your results in a way that resonates with the new personalities who set budgets. If you are regarded as a cost center, capture the total value of each bill, statement, quote, proposal or EOB you send out. This requires tracking one single field of data for your report, but it’s amazingly powerful. Keep a real-time running total of revenue you drive per application, so you can plug this into a dashboard showing the true impact of your application to the business. The new style of management likes constantly updating dashboards, so let’s express what we do in a way that delivers data at their pace.
• Next, demonstrate impact in new ways. With your new dashboard data, you can start connecting your communications to the previous and subsequent communications in the customer journey. Since you have archive data access, you can find out what the customer received previously. You can do some rudimentary analytics to profile which communications generally precede and follow others. This data can be combined with similar data from the digital teams to develop a proactive journey map that coordinates all the projects.
Bringing data, organization and revenue makes you the life of the mobile strategy party and is assurance that you’ll never be left off the guest list again.