Expert Interview Series: Vivian Swertinski From Informz
Vivian Swertinski is a digital marketing professional at Informz, who helps organizations expand their reach by making meaningful connections with their audience.
Informz is a leader in providing digital marketing solutions for Associations, Non-Profits, Travel, and Publishing Clients. What are some things that are particular for marketing non-profits?
Having worked closely with marketing leaders of non-profit and for-profit organizations, I actually found the similarities to be greater than the differences. The fundamental marketing paradigm is exactly the same - attract, engage, convert, and retain. Both non-profit and for-profit organizations are using Informz's email and marketing automation platform to cultivate and nurture relationships throughout the audience lifecycle.
So what is most different?
The value proposition is a key differentiator. Audiences that support non-profits are voluntarily making an investment with expectations of a future benefit. That investment may be in the form of paying membership dues, volunteering time or making a financial donation. Sooner or later the constituent will assess the return on their investment, which will determine their engagement level and the tenure of the relationship.
What is a common challenge associations face and how does Informz help solve this challenge?
Associations are known for having an abundance of rich data in their membership management software, but too often this data is not integrated and therefore underutilized. Informz offers a turnkey integration with a large number of AMS software providers which allows associations to have data-driven email strategies. With the Informz integration, the AMS software remains the database of record, and data is shared only when needed. That means that associations can send automated email messages, such as new member onboarding campaigns and membership renewal campaigns, triggered by the latest and greatest information in their AMS software.
Storytelling is essential for successful marketing these days. Can you talk a bit about why it's important to tell a story during a marketing campaign?
Marketers have a tough job! Did you know that marketing is a lot like a baseball game?
Right at the bat the primary objective is to hit a home run, but that is not the norm in baseball or in marketing. Marketers are tasked with moving audiences through the bases to ultimately cross the home plate and score. So how do you move people through the bases? Audiences make decisions based on what they know and what they feel, and nothing stirs up emotion like a great story!
The best advice for effective storytelling is to know your audience. Marketers need to obtain a deep understanding of their target audience. I've led organizations through persona development so they can have an empathetic understanding of the frustrations, needs, values, and motivations of their audience. This is so important for crafting subject lines, the call-to-action, and in selecting imagery that connects with the audience. Peer-to-peer stories, such as testimonials and case studies are powerful ways to communicate an organization's benefit, value and impact. Be purposeful in choosing the voice and tone of the email messaging because your audience will know whether you are talking to them, with them or at them.
You're the digital marketing strategist for Informz. For people who're just getting started with digital marketing, can you give us an example of what a digital marketing strategy might look like? How can having a digital marketing strategy help a marketing team reach their goals?
Every strategy begins with defining a goal. For someone just getting started in digital marketing, I'd recommend creating goals around the four fundamental aspects of marketing which are to attract, engage, convert, and retain audiences. With the Informz marketing automation platform, organizations can leverage all their data assets, such as websites, email programs, account management databases, and online communities, to serve their audience with relevant communications.
In my role as a digital marketing strategist, I work with clients that come to me with very specific goals. For instance, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) needed help retaining members so we put together an email campaign targeted to lapsed members. The campaign included purposeful follow through based on how the audience interacted with the message. AARC was able to win back 800 members within 45 days, resulting in over $64,000 coming back into the organization.
Informz is located in Saratoga Springs, NY. There's a lot of marketing agencies, ad firms, and content creators on the East Coast. What are some things that you've done to help Informz stand out in your particular region? How much energy should a business put into ranking in their own geographic area?
Associations are making a purposeful shift to integrate and maximize their digital marketing reach utilizing all their data assets. Websites, email marketing programs, account management databases, and online communities are no longer perceived as separate functional entities. Taking a holistic approach means moving away from a single communication strategy to a tailored, one-to-one communication approach. Associations using marketing automation technology are leveraging cross- channel business intelligence to deliver tailored customized communications to their audience.
Before you worked at Informz, you worked with Experian as a cross-channel marketer and Senior Manager of Database Marketing from 1997 - 2014. What was being a digital marketer like in the late '90s, when you started?
Back in the 90's direct mail was king! Print production and postage were the big ticket items in every marketing budget. Direct mail and telemarketing were the primary vehicles for processing transactions. I worked closely with clients to define their segmentation strategies and execute the list processing. Organizations rented lists for prospecting, and in turn would make their lists available for rent which provided an incremental revenue stream. Most of my clients had stores throughout the country in addition to have a direct mail channel. With so many fragmented channels, it was difficult to get a holistic view of the marketing efforts and tie that back to ROI.
What have been some of the most significant changes you've seen since you started as a digital marketer?
Technology has changed everything. Information is so readily available. Gone are the days when the messages people get about you are initiated and orchestrated by you. Organizations used to be the ones to pursue audiences, but now audiences are seeking out organizations that meet their needs. It's never been more important than it is now for marketers to have the tools they need to respond to website activity. Every website should have content to attract new audiences and marketers need to take action to nurture those leads to conversion. Informz marketing automation suite gives the modern marketer the tool set they need to observe and serve their audience.
What did you learn from your experience as a cross-channel marketer? Can you explain a bit of what that means, and what your responsibilities were in that position? Is cross-channel marketing as prevalent as it used to be, or even more so?
Audiences think of organizations as a single entity regardless of what channel they are on. Being an effective cross channel marketer is to make sure that brand continuity exists across all channels. Brands have their own personality and audiences should have the same brand experience no matter where they find you. Audiences expect organizations to connect the dots and look at them in a holistic manner as well. Questions I often ask prospective clients are, "If a prospect repeatedly checks out your membership benefit page, would you want to follow up with them? If a member starts to fill out the renewal form but doesn't finish it, would you want to reach out to them? Without an integrated email marketing platform, it's very likely that a marketer could send a "we miss you" email to members that are highly active within the online community. Cross channel marketing is really about taking a holistic view of your marketing and also of your audience.
What were some things that were unique about marketing databases? How has what you learned impacted your other marketing roles?
Marketing databases are the lifeline for commercial organizations. All relevant audience information is stored in the marketing database for segmentation and analysis purposes. Member management sofware would be the equivalent for member based organizations. In addition to demographic data, marketing databases keep track of transactional history, preferences, promotion history and response. Marketing databases often keep track of transactional records that don't have an associated name and address record at the time of input. Update processing will then try to match the unknown records to known customers using credit card number, phone number, variations of names, etc. I have learned that savvy marketers use every bit of information they can to better understand the audience they serve.
Informz helps organizations expand their reach by making meaningful connections with their audiences. How can digital marketing create a meaningful dialog using strategies, like social media, inbound, and email marketing?
One of the core benefits of marketing automation is the ability to intelligently segment audiences enabling marketers to respond more appropriately to subscribers and send a more relevant message. Utilizing the data collected on your audience, in your member management software, website, or email metrics, marketers can create custom journeys for each subscriber, resulting in a more relevant, personalized experience and longer lasting memberships.
As an example, Texas Medical Association replaced a standard monthly promotional email with a multi-part automated campaign and incremental sales increased by 313%. The Florida Association of Insurance Agents moved away from a one off welcome email to an automated welcome campaign and open rates jumped from 18% to 63%.
Many thanks to Vivian Swertinski for her time and insight.
About Jennifer Barrell
As the Director of Content, Branding & Buzz at Aptify, Jen oversees the strategy and execution of brand management and content production across the organization’s global offices. She thrives on bringing compelling content and useful information to associations to help them grow and engage their membership. She's also an avid fan of mid-century modern design and all things science fiction.