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In two recent studies on the annual state of the transactional and marketing communications markets, respectively, we surveyed a total of 8,000 consumers and 1,200 enterprise professionals across North America and Western Europe. Although each study covered its own respective domain, we find there is common ground between the two. The integration of transactional communications with personalized marketing messages shows potential, but it's currently underutilized and misdirected. In this post, we will focus on the results of our North American report to examine how promotional transactional communications correspond with consumer preferences and enterprise strategic priorities.

Promotional Transactional Communications Are Inherently Engaging

From a consumer perspective, we found that the presence of marketing messages in transactional communications is not viewed negatively. In our transactional communications survey, we captured this sentiment as it relates to paperless adoption. Instead of paying a fee to receive paper copies of their bills and statements, most consumers are open to having relevant marketing messages in their transactional communications.

This acceptance is most prominent in millennials and early technology adopters—about three-fourths of each segment favor marketing messages contained within their bills and statements as compared to paying a fee. In our marketing communications survey, we found even more promise for promotional transactional strategies. Here, over half of all consumers engage with marketing messages contained within a bill and statement, with early technology adopters being the most likely to engage.

For enterprises, a critical takeaway from this research comes from understanding why these consumers prefer to receive marketing messages contained within a bill or statement over all other channels. We found that the top two reasons for this preference are that they trust these sources, and it makes the marketing messages seem more relevant and important.

If we zoom our focus out to the top two factors that make consumers most likely to engage with both direct mail and email marketing communications, they align perfectly with the reasons given by those who prefer promotional transactional communications—relevance and coming from a familiar and trusted sender. That being said, these types of communications are inherently engaging and cater to key consumer preferences.

Are Enterprises Positioned for Promotional Transactional Success?

Through our research, we see that promotional transactional communications is a growing strategy across industries, with the majority of business respondents in our survey saying that they currently do, or plan to, integrate marketing messages into bills, statements, and other transactional communications. This is a significant year-over-year increase. In our 2016 study, only 41% of business respondents said they
redesigned, or planned to redesign, their printed critical communications to allow for promotional integration.

From a competitive standpoint, this is a fast-growing strategy that shouldn't be neglected. The small share of businesses who do not, and do not plan to, implement promotional transactional communication strategies say it is unnecessary and too expensive. These are beliefs that companies need to move away from, since it's an advantage that most competitors do, or will, have over you. It is also just another touchpoint among the ever-growing and idealized omni-channel presence that is so important to strive toward.

Our Opinion

Although it's not a new concept, there continues to be a lot of promise for promotional transactional communications strategies. Bills and statements offer relevance and trust, legitimizing and adding credibility to the marketing messages that you include there. However, there is a high degree of caution to consider when implementing such strategies. We all know it's best to send
customer communications that are personalized, relevant, and timely. Yet, these factors are even more important to abide by when including marketing messages in bills and statements. Since these critical communications come with relevance and trust as a rule, it would be especially offensive to include a marketing message that does not meet the high standards of the channel.

David Stabel is the Research Director of the Customer Communications Advisory Service at Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends. For more information, contact or follow him on Twitter @davidstabel.

Pat Nolan is a Research Analyst of Customer Communications at Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends. Follow Pat on Twitter @patwnolan_CC.