EFI recently released a significant rewrite and enhancement to the Direct Smile platform and they have named it MarketDirect Cross Media. EFI rebuilt the authoring, publishing and management tools on top of the legacy Direct Smile composition tools. This gives users access to all the channels: print, email, landing pages, mobile, and social. This cross-media marketing software combines campaign design and campaign automation into one program.
Campaign design features include:
- Personalized images
- Mobile sites, QR codes and SMS
- Interactive customer surveys
Campaign management features include
- Campaign wizard to simplify creation
- Storyboard for a graphical view of the campaign
- Automated reminders and triggers for follow up activities
- Real-time analytics
According to Aaron Tavakoli of EFI, there are two core reasons for the rewrite of the Direct Smile platform:
- Provide a more integrated experience. What that means is the product has the same look and feel as two other major EFI platforms: DSF which is their W2P platform and PrintStream which is their fulfillment platform. There is a cohesive experience when EFI customers are using those three platforms. All three work together and can exchange data.The print workflow includes design integrated all the way to the Fiery and then to the MIS for cost accounting. Every aspect from initial design to the transaction is available on EFI’s W2P storefront and if you want to fulfill that campaign as an element to a set of retail locations that’s possible as well. It’s all integrated and it’s a 360° view of the service provider model, which means service providers can create, produce, track and invoice.
- Make it easy to use. EFI spent the last two years making this product easy to use. The built in campaign wizard makes it possible for everyday marketers to build campaigns. Users select from a dozen campaign templates that account for 90% of all campaigns. The system builds all the campaign infrastructure behind the scenes – for example the user simply answers questions like
- Do you want to use email with a landing page?
- Do you want an inbound landing page from a social site?
- Do you want an auto response on a registration page?
In the background, EFI builds out the entire infrastructure for the user, users don’t have to create a landing page and link it to the email. Once it’s all built users can customize and then apply a theme. The idea is that for one’s larger customers you would have a designer build all the branding elements including the look and feel, but you only do that once and then the next time you run a campaign you simply reuse the theme.
You don’t need to re-engage design for subsequent campaigns as the original digital assets are saved as Themes. Themes are simply a digital asset management system that are applied to campaigns enabling a user to run a new campaign in minutes.
MarketDirect is sold as self-hosted model or as a Software as a Service hosted by EFI. There are two package options:
- Essential – comes with ability to create campaigns in all channels with unlimited number of recipients. Includes three concurrent campaigns. If you have more than three concurrent campaigns you change to a higher priced subscription. Pricing starts at $13,800 per year. Users who commit to 3 or more years get a discount. If EFI hosts the solution there is an additional $3,000 annual charge.
- Pro Package – designed more for corporate enterprises that want to integrate with a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce.com and need the ability to manage campaigns through a portal. Pricing starts $22,800 per year. Users who commit to 3 or more years get a discount. If EFI hosts the solution there is an additional $3,000 annual charge.
There are many software packages on the market for managing campaigns; however, there are only a few that integrate print into the campaign. Most cross-media campaign solutions just deal with digital media and leave print as a separate channel to be managed independently.
MarketDirect integrates print as one of the main channels which gives it a big advantage for direct mailers/commercial printers who want to add cross media marketing services to their repertoire. On top of that MarketDirect combines the ability to create personalized campaigns (using DirectSmile technology) with the ability to easily manage the execution of those campaigns all in one package.
The big player in this space is XMPie which also has VDP design and campaign management capabilities. Now print service providers have another choice and choice is good.