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When two alpha males come together…

Rohan Vaidya | March 22, 2011
...Two things can happen. They either get on like a house on fire or are at complete loggerheads. As is with IT and marketing.

Why does IT have a marketing problem? Simple, IT’s systems handle the processes that drive every exchange of information in the business. In most organisations, once a new customer comes on board, marketing tends to become less involved, and the customer is more exposed to the operational side of the business. From point of sale, to call centre, website and statement production, IT touches every one of these key interaction points much more frequently than marketing.

Why does marketing have a data problem? IT is sitting on a very rich data set that can be priceless to the company. Marketing knows this, but most marketers feel like they have asked but are not getting what they need. Either data sets are not correct, or pieces and parts from different systems can’t be correlated. So marketing and IT part ways, and marketing returns to what it can control — focusing on acquisition, when in many cases the much more efficient and profitable approach is focusing on retention and awakening dormant customers.

Language of the marketer

Does this sound frustrating to you? As a technology company that builds the software and technology responsible for document output and delivery, InfoPrint Solutions (formerly part of IBM, and now a subsidiary of Ricoh) recognised this disconnection and language barrier with marketing. InfoPrint then formed a partnership with the CMO Council to learn to speak the language of the marketer.

The latest research series currently being developed examines marketer’s issues by verticals. Focusing on insurance, the data from the first report in the new series, ‘What’s Critical in the Vertical’ is stunning. CEOs must be pulling what’s left of their hair out. And IT is in a position to be a hero – no telephone booth or cape required.

In the recent report on the ‘Insurance Vertical’, it is found that more than 55 per cent of consumers polled have held their existing insurance policies for more than five years and are open to receiving information from their trusted providers on new or complimentary services. And an impressive 21 per cent of consumers purchased or increased the value of their existing policies after receiving communications. Unfortunately, only seven per cent of marketers in the insurance vertical value up-sell and cross-sell tactics as a critical route to revenue.

Critical drivers

Among other key findings, the report benchmarks the critical drivers to customer engagement in the insurance vertical. More than 100 insurance marketers provided insights on how they market and sell insurance, while more than 1,100 consumers provided feedback on their experiences shopping for insurance and selecting providers.

The insurance industry’s net premiums in Singapore total more than S$671 million (US$495 million) annually. Sales of regular premium life insurance products in Singapore were up 26 per cent year-on-year to S$518 million (US$383 million) in the first half of 2010. Single premium life insurance product sales rose to S$2.09 billion (US$1.54 billion) in the first half of the year, a 36 per cent increase over the same period last year, reflecting the strong economy.

In the case of marketers, there is a sense of frustration over budgetary constraints that have stalled investment in data analytics programs, which in reality could help jumpstart robust lead flow through more targeted and engaged prospect and client opportunities.

Any organisation’s ability to grow and thrive is highly dependent on IT and Marketing working together to address these challenges and create solutions that really drive bottom-line results. It is unlikely that customers will come forth to indicate interest in buying consolidated services and increase the value of their engagement. Nonetheless, this is an invitation to start approaching them instead.

Rohan Vaidya is general manager, Asia Pacific South, InfoPrint Solutions Company.


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