Ricoh SA has extended the sophistication of its South African marketing effort by including digital channels that feed an analytics system for lead generation, key performance indicator (KPI) tracking, and return on investment (ROI) analyses.
The full system includes digital content marketing that includes blogs, social media channels including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, automated e-mail newsletters, as well as an engagement tracking and escalation system linked to its customer relationship management (CRM) tool, with ties to the sales and marketing teams.
Esti Kilian, GM of Marketing Operations at Ricoh SA said, ‘The digital age is upon us and we need to meet our customers where and how they want to engage with brands today. Market research divulged that our customers vary, in accordance with our 18th Mid Term Plan, which is essentially our business plan for the period April 2014 to March 2017, which stresses services-led transformation as opposed to product lines and solution sets. The shift acknowledges the changing market dynamics, globally, that sees the world of work being reimagined in terms of mobility, agility, productivity, and technology employed for profitability.’
Ricoh SA services range from those revolving around our commercial and graphic arts production print shops to general office productivity related to managed print and managed document services, also business process services, and communication services.
The services consequently engage numerous roles, across industries and sectors focused on legal, healthcare, higher education, and financial services, as well as various geographies and their peculiarities in sub-Sahara Africa.
Kilian, formerly head of marketing services at Ricoh SA, has been promoted to her current position in recognition of her strategic deployment of the new marketing approach that incorporates digital channels in support of business goals and objectives.
‘Our first task was to implement the systems and processes that support the digital marketing effort,’ she said. ‘That included deploying Eloqua, the business-to-business (B2B) cross-channel marketing solution from Oracle, the enterprise platform our business uses broadly, and training marketing and sales personnel to use it effectively.’
Ricoh SA simultaneously engaged multidisciplinary digital agency Karbonblack for social media channel content creation and management, added content marketing blog posts to its PR partner Scarlet Letter’s portfolio of services, and conducted detailed market research into which customers, by role, would be receptive to which digital channels.
‘We knew that digital could be highly effective because it offers detailed metrics supporting sophisticated analyses for improving interaction, engagement, market growth and penetration, and demonstrable returns for all our activities,’ said Kilian. ‘Yet it was a field in which we had no experience. We had to rapidly build expertise and the teams required to create and execute effectively according to our business goals.’
She said that support from Ricoh SA’s parent operation in the UK, Ricoh Europe, proved invaluable, as well as advice and the expertise of the two creative agencies, Karbonblack and Scarlet Letter.
The first phase of execution saw Ricoh SA and its teams create its digital presence. The scope of work included creating and posting content to the three social media channels for Ricoh SA and its business partners in every region of South Africa.
‘We originally created content for all platforms and reposted that to channels setup for each of our business partners,’ said Kilian. ‘It established our presence, in the style of a branding exercise, and it established baseline metrics to build the campaign to phase two. Initial metrics were typical follower and engagement counts focused on quantity more than quality. Phase two saw us differentiate our partner businesses more as well as target the content messaging for our different customer segments more accurately against the personas we had initially developed. We have also included direct mails and blog content that speak to the specific issues and other content pulls that research showed us our target markets appreciate.’
The results include better engagement from readers and viewers, as well as numerous business leads, all of which are tracked in detail by the sophisticated, integrated marketing and business analysis tools based on Oracle, as well as the services of media monitoring and tracking provider Cision.
‘We are currently formulating our strategy to enhance the digital campaign,’ said Kilian. ‘We’re constantly striving toward lower volume, higher value business communication engagements with our customers, to help them deal with the real-world issues they face.’
‘A few thousand Facebook likes are nice for brands, particularly consumer-facing brands, but for predominantly B2B brands like ours we want to achieve meaningful engagements that cannot be effectively conducted via traditional social channels although those channels can enhance them.’
As with all the preceding steps, Kilian said she and her team are eager to grapple with and learn the many lessons that the rapidly evolving digital age of communications has thrust upon them, reflected in her new role and responsibilities, as well as those of her team. Her team included Dierdre Fernandes, head of marketing communications at Ricoh SA, and Chris de Beer, head of product marketing at Ricoh SA, as well as their subordinates.
The total team, including service providers, consists of 12 people, each focused on specific components from long form content to short form content, graphic and visual media, administration, product and technical expertise, strategic marketing direction, social media and PR management.