The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 3 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 receive communication from them? Directmail is a great way to heal that process and also reestablished trust with the end consumer, while still also making sure that they're aware of your brand and keeping your brand top of mine. You're listening to the customer experience podcast, a podcast dedicated to helping today's growing businesses restore a personal 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 of their customers humanity. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Hey, welcome back to the customer experience podcast. If you are looking for ways to connect with online customers in the offline world, you are in the right place. Today's guest has a background in finance and private equity and he's the founder and CEO of Inkott. It's a Sass solution that bridges the digital and analog worlds for better customer relationships and better customer experiences. Michael McCarthy, welcome to the customer experience podcast. Thanks for having me and really appreciate it. Glad to be on. Yeah, I think what you all are doing is really, really interesting. I'm looking for to having a conversation around it, but I'm going to start where we always start on this show, with the definite issue of customer 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 really the product of an interaction between an organization or a business and their customer over that 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 phases of that buyers journey and making sure that that individuals expectations are matched by that brand. Awesome. You hit a couple key ideas there. One is it involves every touch point into that customers expectations have a significant relationship with what their experience is. In generalize, say you know, if you lower your expectations, your boundary disappointed less often, but today's customers are obviously as demanding as ever. You founded inct a couple of years ago and so I'm going to give you the opportunity just kind of tea that up a little bit, but specifically try to get into what you're doing to close a gap in the customer experience, specifically around using direct mail. What problem are you trying to solve their yeah, so, from early high level, inket enables marketers to connect off line, Aka direct mail, with their crm, bringing that into the online world. So really all we're doing... we're providing, and this is actually really exciting, to providing another channel that can be integrated into your crm so that, based on a digital action or a digital event, you can go offline on a one to one level. One of the big reasons that we built this business was we wanted to humanize the ability for marketers to also reach 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 it was very much a bash and blast or a sprain pray approach where, you know, marketers would have to literally call up printers and it would take them weeks, sometimes months, to actually send out a piece of offline collateral, and that collateral was very spammy. It wasn't personalized, and so we really up the game he than where. Now you can actually take your hub spot account, your braves, your iterable, your favorite crm, and you can integrate this directly into it so that, based on an action, say a customer turns or, say a customer has signs up as part of a welcome sequence, you can start to actually automate these offline artifacts in real time, which is super, super cool. It is super cool. It reminds me a lot of, and even in our pre conversation as reminded a lot of the 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 I can set up a trigger like when this, this and this are true and this is false, send this direct mail piece the same way I'm triggering emails and email campaigns. I can trigger direct mail, yes, and the same way that you can trigger any email, you can also send a fully one to 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 this point might be you know, direct mail is dead, email is dead, right. These things we see in here all the time, and yet they remain Roy leaders in terms of marketing channels. And Handley, who's a big email writer and excellent writer on this podcast, said that emails disrespected because we made it that way. What was that state of affairs around direct mail that maybe had it disrespected, and how is this opportunity kind of open back up again such that you decided to build a company around it? Yeah, so the really direct mail had, you know, is more or less somewhat disrespected back in the early two thousands, right when the beginning of the docom boom was happening. So what I think back to my childhood days. AOL was one of the largest Internet providers at that time and ran what is arguably one of the most successful customer acquisition campaigns of...

...all time using their CD disc that they mailed out in the mail. And so back in the early two thousand sets when people were receiving many times tens to to hundreds of items in their mailbox on a day to day basis, and what we found was that you know, as the Internet started to come online, that people began to shift away from mail for cheaper alternatives. And when I say cheaper doesn't necessarily mean the best customer experience or, you know, CX outcomes. And now everything is falling back in line where there's been this oversaturation of digital that's occurred the last ten to fifteen years and direct mails getting hot, and it's getting hotter than ever again. So see a lot of things kind of come around and in circles. Back to larity totally. I think the you know, is you're talking about getting dozens or even hundreds of pieces of physical mail. I think it's easier than ever, or in my lifetime probably at least, to get at tension in the physical mail box. So this is really interesting. Let's go a little bit deeper into the you know, I understand what you and inket have done for your customers in terms of the experience of producing and distributing and triggering direct mail pieces, but talk a little bit about the role of direct mail in the experience of your customers customers. Yeah, so. So, ultimately, what good marketers are trying to optimize for is for this idea of experience that we touched on and every individual, so every one of our customers, customers, that very end consumer, each one of those end consumers reacts differently two different channels. So, you know, say you Ethan. Ethan may prefer SMS and he only wants his SMS at seven am in the 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 you start to optimize for the guests in the way that they want to perceive your brand. And so being able to layer in another channel is super, super successful from the standpoint of you're able just now start to optimize based on what individual 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's another touch point, it's another channel. Let's meet will where they prefer to be 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, opt in and out of different types of text...

...messages. Do you see people explicitly asking 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 a channel where, from all intents and purposes, there isn't much of an opt out our formal opt out process. There's not the same am laws that apply to email. However, what we do see is we see a lot of the people who use ink. It are using in a way where they have customers who are explicitly telling them, Hey, I don't want to receive any more of these emails, anymore of your SMS has and so really these brands are struggling because there and consumers are telling them that they don't want to receive any communication from them whatsoever. No more SMS, no more email. And so we're direct mail can play this pivotal role. Is when those guests feel really 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 mail is a great way to heal that process and also reestablished trust with the end consumer while still also making sure that they're aware of your brand and keeping your brand top of mine. So that's where we see a lot of a lot of impact. Nice. I like those ideas and I like that language a lot. Let's let's flip it back a little bit to ink it as opposed to 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 are you doing to align people and teams around a consistent and thoughtful customer experience or brand experience? Like, how do you think about that? How do you manage that? Like, what does that look like inside your organization today? Yes, so, from an organization side, ink it is grounded on the idea that we are always going to put our customers first and we optimize number one, and you know by far in a way, the number one most important thing, is making sure that our guest or our customer needs are being heard and responded to. So, from an organization side, we track customer success. As you know, our largest metric and that means that we are going to delay many times. Even for instance, we had an example just as past evening where we delayed building a new feature in order to help a customer resolve a problem. So there are a lot of things that we do from an organization Stide that optimize for this idea of customer success first and foremost over everything else. It's good with it's been a it's been a theme in some of my other conversations here on this show. Doing right by the customer can often look like the more difficult and expensive road, but in the end it's always the right thing. I've heard...

...that from at least three people and I feel like that's what I'm hearing for you. Is that how you all look at it? Yeah, our our easiest opportunity for personally optimizing for feature successes is our existing customers purchasing more from us more often. So we know that by retail. But we're optimizing for attention more so than we're trying to just optimize, you know, purely for growth. Growth is obviously very important, but many times companies leave leave a lot on the table by not optimizing for their existing existing guests. Absolutely they do for folks that are like so, okay, so this is interesting. I like this idea of another channel or another touch point. I'm actively thinking about it. Do you have some high level tips on direct mail? You know you offered a couple, I mean 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 someone starts to walk down this road mentally, what are some ideas that you can give them to make sure that if they do start exploring this opportunity, they they do well with the channel in the medium? Like what are some of the best practices in two thousand and nineteen for direct mail? Yeah, so the three key use cases that would be the biggest tips and tricks in our tool kit are, number one, layering and direct mails part of a welcome sequence. So we are in the process of rolling out a case study with a very, very well known BTB brand and they are adding a postcard touch point as part of their free thirty day trial. So imagine if you went to 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're seeing anywhere from a twenty five to a thirty percent lift in people who are converting 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 case and 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 a awesome, awesome use case we start thinking about retention and reengagement. So many times brands, whether it's in the food space is or the econmer space or even the healthcare or in financial space, their customers may use their services and they may not come back and they've already sent them through an email sequence and sms sequence and when day thirty, today, forty five, rules around and you still have not been able to get that customer to take action, then direct mail as a great touch point to...

...layer in to get that customer to come back for the second time to replace an order. So we see a ton of success when we start thinking about re engagement. And then the third use case that's also very, very important is churn prevention. So we work with numerous ECOMMERCE companies who have built proprietary algorithms that score the chances of a customer churning and when that churn level hits a certain threshold. Direct mail is a great way again to build the trust and build the loyalty and just provide that really, really warm touch point where it to the end consumer. It makes it feels if that brand really cares about them, and so it's a great mechanism as the third point for this churn prevention in getting these customers back to repurchase and rebuy from the brand. Thanks. This is three of the good use cases that we've seen. So you're obviously personalizing those by by name and obviously addressed because it needs to get to them. What other elements are people throwing in there, like kind of welcome? Is it just to thank you in a welcome and a warm and fuzzy or on a churn prevention is it, you know, are you reminding people of their activity levels, like what 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's actually 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're sending this warm and fuzzy welcome postcard and they're just looking at a holdout group to see, okay, if we sent this many postcards to Group A and we held out group be, what is the total? You know, Lifting Group A versus Group B and they don't. You don't need a promo code to measure that. A Promo Code is just a just an offer. So you see, you definitely don't need one in order to provide the attribution for the churn prevention and re engagement sequences. On those two use cases we typically do see a Promo Code. But again, the correct way to actually measure attribution and 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 what we found is there are many times just as many people who receive the postcard that end up or the or the mail or that end up buying but do not use the Promo code and meaning it's still a lift and in fact it's actually 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 measuring total lift, and we would say it's incorrect to or non accurate to actually just measure by by a Promo Code per se. Sure that makes sense to me. I mean, you know the any touch, whether it be a direct 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 use the Promo Code in the process. Yeah, that's really interesting. It's a good recommendation. Before we close with two of my favorite questions, I want to have you talk a little bit about it's really interesting. You have a background in finance and investment in private equity. How is that served you in the team well, in terms of the role in the functions you find yourself in today. So my my undergraduate degree was in computer science and Economics and that core foundation has, you know, number one as as an individual who is technical and is able to code. That really helps me go from having a 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 end user 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 an economic side is we've run our business very much like a bombomb where we've created super, super lean but very very fast and agile teams, where our business is able to quickly iter it and when we find an opportunity or a new area 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 know trend is verse very, very quickly because we have really built this team first agile model into our into our business from the ground up. So there are some of the ways that's been super helpful. That's great. I really like what you're doing, like the spirit that you're doing it in and I really like the customer first mentality. As you may know, because we've spoken with you several times before, relationships is our number one core value here at bombombb and on the customer experience podcast. So always like to get I always get interesting stories out of it too, which I enjoy. I like to give you the opportunity to think or mention a person who's had a positive impact on your life or your career and a company that you feel is doing customer experience really well. Yeah, so one of the one of the people that really stands 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 a year and annual recurring revenue. They're one of the largest backup businesses and the advice that Mitch is always given us that we've really taken to heart is when they were building code forty two and they bootstrap this business from zero to twenty million before taking a fifty million dollar seed round from excel is, they constantly obsessed about the idea of customer experience and customer satisfaction, meaning that when a customer called in and something wasn't working,...

...everything stopped and all the attention went to that custer and make sure that we were that they were optimizing for that customer success. And at the end of the day, that type of thinking and that type of mindset is so important when you start to think about growing your business and also expanding and making sure that that culture is ingrained from the from the top down and also the bottom up. And what's really great about that mindset is, at the end of the day, the only person who can fire you is your end customer, and so making sure that you're optimizing for their happiness and their success along all stages, from the second that they purchase all the way to, you know, on the on the back end, right when they continue using your tool or belong run. Making sure that you're constantly putting their needs first is super, super important, and that's been just really great coaching that we've had as a whole. It's clear just in our in our conversation today, that you've really taken it to heart and built that into the culture that you've got. Were you blending Mitch and Code Forty Two there, or is your another company you would shout out in terms of someone that's doing customer experience? Well, code is one of the best in the world when it comes to customer experience, especially when you think about if you have an issue, you can get a human on the phone within seconds to start working through an issue with you as well. There there's a few O. There's, you know, obviously other inket customers of ours who do a tremendous, fabulous job when it comes to these welcome sequences and on boarding processes, as well as churn prevention as well. But Code is definitely one of the ones from a Sass side or from a d Tob Angle, that really comes to mind, that that were hoping to emulate, at least here at inkt. Awesome. You're following. You're following good direction, you're following good examples. Michael, this has been a pleasure for me. I hope our listeners enjoy it too. How can someone, if they want to follow up with you or with ink it? What are some ways that folks can connect with you? Sure? Well, we, you know, obviously are very 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 drop us a message on inktcom. You can visit our website and submit a wick question there and myself or one of our team members will get back to you very shortly. Awesome. I love when the founder and CEO offers to follow up with folks that visit the website and fill out of contact form. You guys 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 to hear more like this, you can subscribe to the customer experience podcast in Itunes or 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. Thanks you 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 some of your most important and valuable messages to faceless digital communication. You can do better. Rehumanize the experience by getting facetoface through simple, personal videos. Learn more and get started free at bomb bombcom. You've been listening to the customer experience podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visit bombombcom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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