Tim Skelly, Director of Product Innovation and Business Development at Canada Post, shares insights about Canada Post’s innovative solution for SMEs, Precision Targeter, a direct marketing web portal with advanced targeting options in an interview with IPC.
What is Precision Targeter?

Precision Targeter is an online application that allows a marketer to accurately select and identify a target audience for their direct marketing campaign as well as paying for the delivery and preparing the mail for induction through an easy step by step process.

Why did Canada Post decide to establish the Precision Targeter?

Like many large companies, we recognized that we needed to do more to support the growing number of small and medium sized businesses in Canada.  In order to be successful, we had to simplify the process of developing a marketing campaign, providing more robust tools to help them select their audience, and placing everything online so that they could access us when and where they needed to.

Who is the main target audience for this service?

Almost any type and size of company, including service providers and agencies, are using Precision Targeter today; however it was designed with small and medium sized businesses in mind.  We wanted to provide all sizes of companies with the data and tools that typically were reserved for large enterprise companies.  In doing so, we believe all marketing campaigns will be more successful and result in additional long term customer use.

How many people were involved in delivering this project?

This was a large, multi-functional project that drew in our best data resources, software developers, IT architects, and many more people.  In total, we probably had more than 100 people working on Precision Targeter over its 24 month development.

What was the time span between the project’s inception and completion?

The project started in February 2010 and was launched into the market on March 2012. Since that time, the team has updated and upgraded the system several times. 

Did Canada Post use in-house programmers to set up the platform?

We used a combination of internal and external resources based on the particular skills we needed throughout the development process. Canada Post has an excellent and highly skilled team of IT experts that are utilized on many day to day initiatives as well as development projects; however, there are skills which are required less often internally and these we would source from our IT partners as required.

What was the greatest surprise in the course of developing this project?

It was probably the passion and level of enthusiasm from our own team as we developed the project. We have known for a long time that we needed to simplify the process and provide more self-serve customer options; once we were well in to the planning and development process, and the project gained momentum, we knew we had a solution that the market was going to be very excited about.

What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was managing the scope of the project; there were so many great ideas, features and capabilities that the team wanted to provide to the market that we had to be selective on which ones would make it in the first edition of the application.  We probably added more capabilities than we originally planned but there were still many more we had to move in the next planning cycle.

By what criterion can an advertiser define its target audience in Precision Targeter?

At the first step you would select the type of delivery point you would like to target (House, Apartment, Farm, or Business). You would then select up to three out of nine demographic characteristics of your target audience including (e.g. age, education, household size, age of home, income, employment status, home type, labour type, and building occupancy). Then you would select your geographic target area using one of several filters including a radius, drive distance, drive time, or a buffer (include part of radius but not all).  Other options include the selection of a municipality, a postal code, or a hand drawn boundary on the map to create a custom target area.


On average, how long does it take to place an order on Precision Targeter?

Of course this really depends on the size and complexity of the campaign being developed; however most campaigns can take as little as 15 to 20 minutes to complete for a simple solution.  The step by step process and user interface tools that we developed make it quick and easy to identify an audience and place an order.

Can you share some prominent success stories?

After being in market for less than a year we have already exceed our expected usage by more than 400%. The take up of Precision Targeter has exceeded our expectations due primarily to its simplicity and ease of use.  We have seen Telecom franchises, which have never done DM before, submit repeat and increasing volume of orders using Precision Targeter.

How does Canada Post plan to promote and generate new customers for Precision Targeter?

Precision Targeter is a cornerstone of our small business strategy for the year so it has been highlighted and promoted in many DM campaigns throughout the year. It is also prominently displayed on our web page and is being used by many partners in support of businesses in Canada.

This article was originally published in IPC Direct Marketing Flash, issue 4