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Marketing Automation in Print: AutoPoint Case Study

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This article is written by Lucy Swanston and Matt Rees of the Print Council.

Following the DMA’s Council restructure, strategic hubs were established to promote innovation, thought leadership and best practice. Within the Print Council we have five areas of focus within our hubs: Attribution, JICMail, Marketing Automation, Sustainability, Creativity and Door Drop.

Our aim within the Marketing Automation Hub is to explore the current technology providers (that include print as an output), and what impact it can have on marketer’s efforts in streamlining their processes and incorporating print within their automated marketing mix. Simplification of terms and phrases will be our focus.

A new study by Deloitte has found that 58% of organisations have implemented some form of automation and a poll of UK workers showed 86% welcomed the introduction of automation into the workplace. From harvesting data to mine for insights about audiences to identifying the right moment to deliver a relevant message, automation is becoming embedded in campaign management and processes.

Marketing automation is a way to drive down the costs of a campaign – a welcome boost for marketers under pressure to optimise their budgets. But efficiency does not equal effectiveness and taking a broader view of the benefits of automation to deliver conversion in the near-term, long-term loyalty and lifetime customer value will be more helpful in realising campaign goals.

AutoPoint automates marketing strategies for the entire customer lifecycle

US automotive marketing and services provider helps clients connect with drivers at every step of their vehicle ownership journey.

Using marketing automation technology AutoPoint built an advanced and fully automated email and print marketing retention platform to give it the edge over its competitors.

Background

AutoPoint, owned by Solera Holdings, is an industry- leading automotive marketing and services provider, offering services that improve sales, service revenue and customer retention for dealerships and aftermarket vehicle care companies.

By taking time at the start to create highly versatile direct mail and email templates and define the campaign logic, the templates can be used to send hundreds of different, highly targeted communications to drivers that speak to their specific vehicle needs and are branded by the dealership.

AutoPoint automates marketing strategies for the entire customer lifecycle

US automotive marketing and services provider helps clients connect with drivers at every step of their vehicle ownership journey.

Using marketing automation technology AutoPoint built an advanced and fully automated email and print marketing retention platform to give it the edge over its competitors.

Challenge

AutoPoint needed to build an email and print marketing retention platform that was scalable and could fulfil incredibly fast to help their manufacturer and dealer clients to connect with drivers at every step of their vehicle ownership journey.

To ensure a competitive edge, AutoPoint wanted to build the platform in-house and automate as many workflows as possible. To achieve this goal, the system needed a powerful document composition and management engine, an email marketing service, and a robust and scalable platform.

There were several critical specifications under consideration as AutoPoint designed its platform:

  • Robust Email Service: High speed email delivery for sending millions of emails in hours
  • Lights out automation: API integration was critical to automate as many workflows as possible
  • Single platform: A single vendor was needed to power the platform behind the scenes and drive the omni-channel experience (rather than multiple vendors)
  • Support variety of output formats: The solution needed to generate standalone output files in a large variety of standard and propriety print formats
  • Complexity: The solution needed to handle thousands of variable objects
  • Redundancy and high-availability: Multiple Server- based so that it could be setup for redundancy
  • Fast print and email file generation: The composition engine needed to handle extreme complexity to allow campaigns to go to market as fast as possible
  • InDesign end-to-end workflow: Special brand representation features such as custom fonts and Pantone colours were needed to assure clients that brand identities would be protected at every touchpoint

“For a platform like this to succeed we had to use a fast, almost instant, print and email file generation server. To achieve that speed, there had to be a single source of data and logic – something that could share the design resources across the channels flawlessly.”

  • Aasif Bagdadi, VP Software Engineering, AutoPoint

Solution

AutoPoint built its portal and user interface in-house by integrating with XMPie’s PersonalEffect Enterprise Cross Media and the XMPie Email Service (XES).

These XMPie solutions are powered by the core PersonalEffect architecture and featured all the critical specifications that AutoPoint needed.

AutoPoint developed its own web portal, using XMPie’s APIs to integrate the system’s capabilities of content and production with its own internal systems and processes.

Because the same data and logic are used for both print and email, AutoPoint didn’t need to move data or logic between solutions or duplicate resource or effort. The print templates are created by AutoPoint designers with the uCreate Print plugin to Adobe InDesign. The email templates were created with the designer’s preferred tools using shared data and logic between both print and email channels.

The entire workflow is executed with lights-out automation and is scalable depending on the client’s requirements when the campaign is launched.

The Customer Journey

AutoPoint’s flagship product is the customer journey which keeps the dealer connected with customers at every step of their vehicle ownership lifecycle. This is an automatic trigger-based lifecycle marketing program that sends highly targeted communications to drivers based on where they are in their ownership lifecycle.

The customer journey is managed by the AutoPoint product management team and communicates across the entire customer journey beginning the moment the dealer sells a car to a customer. The customer journey begins by thanking a customer for his recent vehicle purchase. It then focuses on key transition points throughout the customer’s ownership cycle, including purchase to service conversion, service retention, service reactivation, and service to sales conversion, where the customer is buying his next car. The Journey is designed strategically with a communications cadence of messaging and offers across different channels to keep everyone on cycle.

XMPie PersonalEffect software is key to the fulfilment of this goal. The dealer can see the tracking results through their portal and amend their campaign accordingly.

The On Demand Campaign

This is a self-service online marketing application that allows dealers to send ad-hoc marketing campaigns that are customised, targeted, and fulfilled quickly and easily. Campaigns can be initiated and launched directly by the client.

Rather than a full lifecycle campaign, like the customer journey, in this case each dealer logs into her own tailor-made and brand-ready marketing portal where, like a true service portal, she can see the choice of ready-made templates displayed. She begins by selecting a campaign type (email or print) and template, before setting the budget, selecting any coupons, offers and pricing, defining DMS (Document Management System) criteria and order quantities before reviewing, scheduling, and sending the order. This is all done by the client with no intervention by AutoPoint staff which speeds up the process considerably.

Although the same templates are used across the board for all the dealerships’ stores, each portal only displays the correct template version that is branded and customized for that particular dealership. This relevancy is controlled by PersonalEffect and the logic is built into the templates by the designers.

Through the user-friendly interface, marketing campaigns can be created, customized, and distributed in minimal time. Direct mail can be sent to customers within one business day, while email campaigns can be launched within hours of approval.

Results

Bringing the XMPie solution in-house, combined with AutoPoint’s experience with XMPie gave it much more control over the output than if it had needed to rely on one or more third party vendors. It also allows AutoPoint to be print-vendor agnostic and provide many different print fulfilment options to its customers.

Since the platform went live, AutoPoint has:

  • Decreased turnaround times. Previously new catalogues took 8-10 days and would need manual deployment. Immediately after moving to XMPie each campaign took less than four hours to set up and were deployed automatically.
  • Reduced cost by eliminating the need for custom creative and data cleansing.
The Challenge

Automate a large-volume, multi-channel lifecycle marketing program to allow for optimal speed and scalability.

The Solution

Marketing automation technology that includes print

The Results

AutoPoint was able to eliminate processes that used to take up to ten days followed by manual deployment. Their new and faster solution now takes less than four hours and deploys automatically.


Read more from the Marketing Automation in Print series:

Marketing Automation Boosts Cross-media Campaigns

Marketing Automation in Print: Asurion Case Study

See more content from the Print Council here.

Hear more from the DMA