The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

21. Turning Customers' Online Actions into Offline Experiences w/ Michael McCarthy


Direct mail used to be a highly “spray-and-pray” activity. On top of that, printers might take weeks or months to send offline collateral.

But with the oversaturation of digital touchpoints today, direct mail has come back with a vengeance—which is why Michael McCarthy founded Inkit. Inkit has upgraded the direct mail game, allowing you to integrate your CRM with direct mail and automate offline artifacts in real time.

In this episode, Michael shares some of the best use cases he’s seen in direct mail campaigns today.

When that brand has and some regards, breached the trust of that end consumer, would they no longer want to receivecommunication from them? Directmail is a great way to heal that process andalso reestablished trust with the end consumer, while still also making sure that they'reaware of your brand and keeping your brand top of mine. You're listening tothe customer experience podcast, a podcast dedicated to helping today's growing businesses restore apersonal human touch throughout the customer life cycle. Get ready to hear how sales,marketing and customers success. Experts surprise and delight and never lose sign oftheir customers humanity. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Hey, welcome backto the customer experience podcast. If you are looking for ways to connect withonline customers in the offline world, you are in the right place. Today'sguest has a background in finance and private equity and he's the founder and CEOof Inkott. It's a Sass solution that bridges the digital and analog worlds forbetter customer relationships and better customer experiences. Michael McCarthy, welcome to the customerexperience podcast. Thanks for having me and really appreciate it. Glad to beon. Yeah, I think what you all are doing is really, reallyinteresting. I'm looking for to having a conversation around it, but I'm goingto start where we always start on this show, with the definite issue ofcustomer experience. When I say customer experience, what comes to mind for you?What are some of its characteristics? How do you think about it?Yes, so in and commerce or in daytoday business, customer experience is reallythe product of an interaction between an organization or a business and their customer overthat duration of the relationship. So when we think of a good customer experience, what that means that's the individual or the end users experience during all phasesof that buyers journey and making sure that that individuals expectations are matched by thatbrand. Awesome. You hit a couple key ideas there. One is itinvolves every touch point into that customers expectations have a significant relationship with what theirexperience is. In generalize, say you know, if you lower your expectations, your boundary disappointed less often, but today's customers are obviously as demanding asever. You founded inct a couple of years ago and so I'm going togive you the opportunity just kind of tea that up a little bit, butspecifically try to get into what you're doing to close a gap in the customerexperience, specifically around using direct mail. What problem are you trying to solvetheir yeah, so, from early high level, inket enables marketers to connectoff line, Aka direct mail, with their crm, bringing that into theonline world. So really all we're doing... we're providing, and this isactually really exciting, to providing another channel that can be integrated into your crmso that, based on a digital action or a digital event, you cango offline on a one to one level. One of the big reasons that webuilt this business was we wanted to humanize the ability for marketers to alsoreach their customers and create this experience offline that was super engaged. So,prior to in get, the way that direct mail was being done was itwas very much a bash and blast or a sprain pray approach where, youknow, marketers would have to literally call up printers and it would take themweeks, sometimes months, to actually send out a piece of offline collateral,and that collateral was very spammy. It wasn't personalized, and so we reallyup the game he than where. Now you can actually take your hub spotaccount, your braves, your iterable, your favorite crm, and you canintegrate this directly into it so that, based on an action, say acustomer turns or, say a customer has signs up as part of a welcomesequence, you can start to actually automate these offline artifacts in real time,which is super, super cool. It is super cool. It reminds mea lot of, and even in our pre conversation as reminded a lot ofthe relationship, or the similarities, I guess, between direct mail and email. And so, just to translate for folks that maybe didn't follow that perfectly, do I understand this correctly, Michael, I can just as easily as Ican set up a trigger like when this, this and this are trueand this is false, send this direct mail piece the same way I'm triggeringemails and email campaigns. I can trigger direct mail, yes, and thesame way that you can trigger any email, you can also send a fully oneto one piece of mail, just like you can create a customized,dynamic email t or sequence. Really really interesting. It reminds me of,you know, I think a lot of folks that might be listening to thispoint might be you know, direct mail is dead, email is dead,right. These things we see in here all the time, and yet theyremain Roy leaders in terms of marketing channels. And Handley, who's a big emailwriter and excellent writer on this podcast, said that emails disrespected because we madeit that way. What was that state of affairs around direct mail thatmaybe had it disrespected, and how is this opportunity kind of open back upagain such that you decided to build a company around it? Yeah, sothe really direct mail had, you know, is more or less somewhat disrespected backin the early two thousands, right when the beginning of the docom boomwas happening. So what I think back to my childhood days. AOL wasone of the largest Internet providers at that time and ran what is arguably oneof the most successful customer acquisition campaigns of...

...all time using their CD disc thatthey mailed out in the mail. And so back in the early two thousandsets when people were receiving many times tens to to hundreds of items in theirmailbox on a day to day basis, and what we found was that youknow, as the Internet started to come online, that people began to shiftaway from mail for cheaper alternatives. And when I say cheaper doesn't necessarily meanthe best customer experience or, you know, CX outcomes. And now everything isfalling back in line where there's been this oversaturation of digital that's occurred thelast ten to fifteen years and direct mails getting hot, and it's getting hotterthan ever again. So see a lot of things kind of come around andin circles. Back to larity totally. I think the you know, isyou're talking about getting dozens or even hundreds of pieces of physical mail. Ithink it's easier than ever, or in my lifetime probably at least, toget at tension in the physical mail box. So this is really interesting. Let'sgo a little bit deeper into the you know, I understand what youand inket have done for your customers in terms of the experience of producing anddistributing and triggering direct mail pieces, but talk a little bit about the roleof direct mail in the experience of your customers customers. Yeah, so.So, ultimately, what good marketers are trying to optimize for is for thisidea of experience that we touched on and every individual, so every one ofour customers, customers, that very end consumer, each one of those endconsumers reacts differently two different channels. So, you know, say you Ethan.Ethan may prefer SMS and he only wants his SMS at seven am inthe morning when he wakes up, whereas Michael may only prefer direct mail.What we're finding is that each individual consumer, not every single person, is alike, and the way that you start to optimize for your guest is youstart to optimize for the guests in the way that they want to perceive yourbrand. And so being able to layer in another channel is super, supersuccessful from the standpoint of you're able just now start to optimize based on whatindividual preferences may or may not be. If you see people explicitly asking this, like some of your customers, like I love what you're saying. It'sanother touch point, it's another channel. Let's meet will where they prefer tobe met. Let's communicate with people where and how they prefer to communicate.Do you see people asking explicitly what they prefer, like people opting into,you know, people opt in and out of different types of emails, optin and out of different types of text...

...messages. Do you see people explicitlyasking to opt in or out of particular types of direct mail as well?We don't necessarily see people. Okay, first off, direct mail is achannel where, from all intents and purposes, there isn't much of an opt outour formal opt out process. There's not the same am laws that applyto email. However, what we do see is we see a lot ofthe people who use ink. It are using in a way where they havecustomers who are explicitly telling them, Hey, I don't want to receive any moreof these emails, anymore of your SMS has and so really these brandsare struggling because there and consumers are telling them that they don't want to receiveany communication from them whatsoever. No more SMS, no more email. Andso we're direct mail can play this pivotal role. Is when those guests feelreally when that brand has in some regards, breached the trust of that end consumer, would they no longer want to receive communication from them. Direct mailis a great way to heal that process and also reestablished trust with the endconsumer while still also making sure that they're aware of your brand and keeping yourbrand top of mine. So that's where we see a lot of a lotof impact. Nice. I like those ideas and I like that language alot. Let's let's flip it back a little bit to ink it as opposedto the the customers experience, your customers, customers. As founder and CEO,you obviously have per view over the entire operation. As you described,customer experience involves multiple touch points throughout the entire life cycle of the customer,even pre customer. So how do you inside your own organization? What areyou doing to align people and teams around a consistent and thoughtful customer experience orbrand experience? Like, how do you think about that? How do youmanage that? Like, what does that look like inside your organization today?Yes, so, from an organization side, ink it is grounded on the ideathat we are always going to put our customers first and we optimize numberone, and you know by far in a way, the number one mostimportant thing, is making sure that our guest or our customer needs are beingheard and responded to. So, from an organization side, we track customersuccess. As you know, our largest metric and that means that we aregoing to delay many times. Even for instance, we had an example justas past evening where we delayed building a new feature in order to help acustomer resolve a problem. So there are a lot of things that we dofrom an organization Stide that optimize for this idea of customer success first and foremostover everything else. It's good with it's been a it's been a theme insome of my other conversations here on this show. Doing right by the customercan often look like the more difficult and expensive road, but in the endit's always the right thing. I've heard...

...that from at least three people andI feel like that's what I'm hearing for you. Is that how you alllook at it? Yeah, our our easiest opportunity for personally optimizing for featuresuccesses is our existing customers purchasing more from us more often. So we knowthat by retail. But we're optimizing for attention more so than we're trying tojust optimize, you know, purely for growth. Growth is obviously very important, but many times companies leave leave a lot on the table by not optimizingfor their existing existing guests. Absolutely they do for folks that are like so, okay, so this is interesting. I like this idea of another channelor another touch point. I'm actively thinking about it. Do you have somehigh level tips on direct mail? You know you offered a couple, Imean in particularly truly customized one to one direct mail pieces. A honestly,it's a new idea to me. What are a few tips you know someonestarts to walk down this road mentally, what are some ideas that you cangive them to make sure that if they do start exploring this opportunity, theythey do well with the channel in the medium? Like what are some ofthe best practices in two thousand and nineteen for direct mail? Yeah, sothe three key use cases that would be the biggest tips and tricks in ourtool kit are, number one, layering and direct mails part of a welcomesequence. So we are in the process of rolling out a case study witha very, very well known BTB brand and they are adding a postcard touchpoint as part of their free thirty day trial. So imagine if you wentto a site such as bombomb and signed up for a free three day trial, they are automatically sending you a postcard and what they're finding is that they'reseeing anywhere from a twenty five to a thirty percent lift in people who areconverting from free to paid just by receiving that postcard versus a holdout group.So that is very, very significant from a revenue side. Unbelievable use caseand that's one of our, you know, biggest successes we've seen in a while, at least from the from the BB side. We also have aawesome, awesome use case we start thinking about retention and reengagement. So manytimes brands, whether it's in the food space is or the econmer space oreven the healthcare or in financial space, their customers may use their services andthey may not come back and they've already sent them through an email sequence andsms sequence and when day thirty, today, forty five, rules around and youstill have not been able to get that customer to take action, thendirect mail as a great touch point to...

...layer in to get that customer tocome back for the second time to replace an order. So we see aton of success when we start thinking about re engagement. And then the thirduse case that's also very, very important is churn prevention. So we workwith numerous ECOMMERCE companies who have built proprietary algorithms that score the chances of acustomer churning and when that churn level hits a certain threshold. Direct mail isa great way again to build the trust and build the loyalty and just providethat really, really warm touch point where it to the end consumer. Itmakes it feels if that brand really cares about them, and so it's agreat mechanism as the third point for this churn prevention in getting these customers backto repurchase and rebuy from the brand. Thanks. This is three of thegood use cases that we've seen. So you're obviously personalizing those by by nameand obviously addressed because it needs to get to them. What other elements arepeople throwing in there, like kind of welcome? Is it just to thankyou in a welcome and a warm and fuzzy or on a churn prevention isit, you know, are you reminding people of their activity levels, likewhat are what are some people doing with some of the messaging? Yeah,so for the for the welcome sequence, it's a warm and fuzzy. There'sactually no promo code and it's really easy to still track without a Promo Code. You can still track after beution. All this brand is doing is they'resending this warm and fuzzy welcome postcard and they're just looking at a holdout groupto see, okay, if we sent this many postcards to Group A andwe held out group be, what is the total? You know, LiftingGroup A versus Group B and they don't. You don't need a promo code tomeasure that. A Promo Code is just a just an offer. Soyou see, you definitely don't need one in order to provide the attribution forthe churn prevention and re engagement sequences. On those two use cases we typicallydo see a Promo Code. But again, the correct way to actually measure attributionand direct mail is not by measuring the Promo Code. In fact,if you measure the Promo Code you're actually going to have an underreporting because whatwe found is there are many times just as many people who receive the postcardthat end up or the or the mail or that end up buying but donot use the Promo code and meaning it's still a lift and in fact it'sactually better for the brands because they're not having to coup on those users.So we recommend, when you start to think about attribution reporting, actually measuringtotal lift, and we would say it's incorrect to or non accurate to actuallyjust measure by by a Promo Code per se. Sure that makes sense tome. I mean, you know the any touch, whether it be adirect mail piece or something else, can have an effect on thoughts and behaviors. So I may actually do the recommended...

...activity or behavior but just not usethe Promo Code in the process. Yeah, that's really interesting. It's a goodrecommendation. Before we close with two of my favorite questions, I wantto have you talk a little bit about it's really interesting. You have abackground in finance and investment in private equity. How is that served you in theteam well, in terms of the role in the functions you find yourselfin today. So my my undergraduate degree was in computer science and Economics andthat core foundation has, you know, number one as as an individual whois technical and is able to code. That really helps me go from havinga business conversation to immediately being able to think about how to engineer a solution. That's that's really important to be dynamic and able to talk with an enduser and also translate that into an engineering mindset and a product. Mincet white, also so that thinking about how we've run our business for more of aneconomic side is we've run our business very much like a bombomb where we've createdsuper, super lean but very very fast and agile teams, where our businessis able to quickly iter it and when we find an opportunity or a newarea for product feature that we believe is going to be the next big thing, we're able to quickly move on it and iter it and make you knowtrend is verse very, very quickly because we have really built this team firstagile model into our into our business from the ground up. So there aresome of the ways that's been super helpful. That's great. I really like whatyou're doing, like the spirit that you're doing it in and I reallylike the customer first mentality. As you may know, because we've spoken withyou several times before, relationships is our number one core value here at bombombband on the customer experience podcast. So always like to get I always getinteresting stories out of it too, which I enjoy. I like to giveyou the opportunity to think or mention a person who's had a positive impact onyour life or your career and a company that you feel is doing customer experiencereally well. Yeah, so one of the one of the people that reallystands out to mind is a advisor of ours by the name of Mitch Kupid. Mitch Cupid has successfully found it a business us called the code forty two, and code forty two is now on track to eclipse two hundred million ayear and annual recurring revenue. They're one of the largest backup businesses and theadvice that Mitch is always given us that we've really taken to heart is whenthey were building code forty two and they bootstrap this business from zero to twentymillion before taking a fifty million dollar seed round from excel is, they constantlyobsessed about the idea of customer experience and customer satisfaction, meaning that when acustomer called in and something wasn't working,...

...everything stopped and all the attention wentto that custer and make sure that we were that they were optimizing for thatcustomer success. And at the end of the day, that type of thinkingand that type of mindset is so important when you start to think about growingyour business and also expanding and making sure that that culture is ingrained from thefrom the top down and also the bottom up. And what's really great aboutthat mindset is, at the end of the day, the only person whocan fire you is your end customer, and so making sure that you're optimizingfor their happiness and their success along all stages, from the second that theypurchase all the way to, you know, on the on the back end,right when they continue using your tool or belong run. Making sure thatyou're constantly putting their needs first is super, super important, and that's been justreally great coaching that we've had as a whole. It's clear just inour in our conversation today, that you've really taken it to heart and builtthat into the culture that you've got. Were you blending Mitch and Code FortyTwo there, or is your another company you would shout out in terms ofsomeone that's doing customer experience? Well, code is one of the best inthe world when it comes to customer experience, especially when you think about if youhave an issue, you can get a human on the phone within secondsto start working through an issue with you as well. There there's a fewO. There's, you know, obviously other inket customers of ours who doa tremendous, fabulous job when it comes to these welcome sequences and on boardingprocesses, as well as churn prevention as well. But Code is definitely oneof the ones from a Sass side or from a d Tob Angle, thatreally comes to mind, that that were hoping to emulate, at least hereat inkt. Awesome. You're following. You're following good direction, you're followinggood examples. Michael, this has been a pleasure for me. I hopeour listeners enjoy it too. How can someone, if they want to followup with you or with ink it? What are some ways that folks canconnect with you? Sure? Well, we, you know, obviously arevery big on this idea of humanization and how to humanize the customer experience.So the best way I would be to either find me on Linkedin or dropus a message on inktcom. You can visit our website and submit a wickquestion there and myself or one of our team members will get back to youvery shortly. Awesome. I love when the founder and CEO offers to followup with folks that visit the website and fill out of contact form. Youguys are doing some really interesting stuff. You're doing it the right way.I'm rooting for you and hope folks enjoyed the conversation. If you want tohear more like this, you can subscribe to the customer experience podcast in Itunesor apple podcast. It's also available on spotify and at Bombombcom. Slash podcast. Michael, thank you so much and thanks to everyone who's listening. Thanksyou anything. Appreciate you having me.

You're listening to the customer experience podcast. No matter your role in delivering value and serving customers, you're entrusting someof your most important and valuable messages to faceless digital communication. You can dobetter. Rehumanize the experience by getting facetoface through simple, personal videos. Learnmore and get started free at bomb bombcom. You've been listening to the customer experiencepodcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to theshow in your favorite podcast player or visit bombombcom. Thank you so much forlistening. Until next time,.

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