Interactive collateral management
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Interactive Collateral Management is a methodology for organizations to distribute and analyze the performance of the entire portfolio of collateral from marketing and communications. It involves usage of technology to distribute digital equivalents of various types of collateral and documents, which primarily are distributed online and managed through SaaS solutions.
The overall goal is to ensure increased readership while giving the sender of the communications more insight into reader details and usage of the collateral for continuous optimization.
Since the mid 2000s (decade), a rising number of consumer-oriented websites have trended towards more user-friendly experiences. A key feature has been to replace PDF versions of product catalogs, flyers, brochures or similar publications in order to reduce load time and ensure higher exposure of the offered products or services. In many cases, the PDF has been replaced with live flash versions of the soft copy that is created from the PDF version. The most recognizable feature preserved by all vendors is the page-turn effect that ensures magazine-like navigation, where readers flip through the digital issue. This way of navigating encourages higher usability, and ultimately, more pages are read.
Collateral Management was introduced by Zmags in 2009 and is a practice-based approach derived from the page flip technology. Other vendors such as BlueToad and PageSuite have supported the movement by offering ICM-like versions of their software.
ICM is especially gaining impact in marketing and communications departments among medium-sized companies and upwards, where the concept of providing a holistic view of the entire portfolio of collateral is more valuable, due to a higher need for targeted communications.
ICM differs from conventional page flip software by providing the producers of publications a way to get details about readership. The capabilities of analytics vary from vendor to vendor, but in most cases, ICM solutions can measure total readers per publication, readers per page, zoom clicks per page, position of zoom clicks (often represented graphically through heat-maps), time spent per reader, bounce rate and usage of various features offered within the digital platform such as number of PDF downloads or times the publication has been shared via email or social media methods. The analytical capabilities allow the producers of collateral to understand how their content is perceived among their target audience. The goal is to set up key performance indicators on selected collateral and provide quantitative analytical feedback that the producers can use to optimize content or locate the less valuable parts of their collateral portfolio.
The financial crisis starting in 2007 enforced the need for marketing departments to provide more accountability for their activities and spending. Particularly this phenomenon has been seen in large-sized organizations and enterprises, where ICM is among the analytical tools used to provide more accountability.
Interactive Collateral Management tools have encouraged organizations to attain these objectives:
- Expanding reader scope by digital distribution of collateral
- More transparency of the portfolio of collateral
- Higher exposure of products and services, due to reduced load times
- Improved brand alignment, as print and online versions look the same
- Reduced time-to-market, due to quick digital conversion and instant distribution
- Analytical insight into actual usage of the organization’s outbound publications
- Potential cost savings in cases where online editions have been superior to print
- Some end-users dislike the page flip editions distributed through ICM, as they still prefer reading PDF files.
- PDF versions of ready-to-print material can be unsuitable for online use. Particularly in cases where font sizes are small.