Retention Tips, Storytelling and Technology Made This SIPAward Winner Shine

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"Having a feel for technology and enjoying good storytelling are not mutually exclusive, and one thing we've come to learn about our readers is that they love a good story. This is especially true of stories concerning SAP technology that can bring a common business challenge to life without bogging the reader down with technical jargon."
—Lauren Bonneau, managing editor, insiderPROFILES, Wellesley Information Services, a UCG company, in her description of the article, "Merci! Montreal Transit Company Thanks Riders With Mobile App" - an award-winning entry in last year's SIPAwards

This 2015 SIPAward-winning story by Ken Murphy spilled over with positive examples of strong B2B writing. So much so that as we head into the last couple weeks of entries—the deadline is April 1—I thought it would be beneficial to take one more look.

Submitting SIPAward entries not only gives you the opportunity to have your work shine, but it also benefits the entire SIPA community. Your colleagues should know about the good work you're doing and the success stories you're making happen. We have 25 categories and a possible 75 winners. Check out those categories here.

Here are seven lessons from this excellent WIS story:

1. It focused on retention, and almost everyone cares about that. Murphy gets a great quote right off from Pierre Bourbonniere (pictured here), CMO of Société de transport de Montréal (STM): "We know who is leaving us and why they are leaving, and the aim is to put strategies in place to cause these people to delay or put off that decision. To do this, one key thing is to start developing relationships with them. We have a lot of transactions with a large number of people each day, and historically we haven't known who they are."

2. The article neatly identified the problems. Prior to working with SAP, the STM had privacy concerns with the information they were acquiring and couldn't balance the books. "STM's standing as a long-time SAP customer would change this." Boom. If my business is SAP, I'm paying attention.

3. It focused on an app as a solution. "Months of co-innovation roundtable discussions and strategy sessions led to the May 2013 launch of the STM Merci App."

4. The article showed the incredible breadth of what SAP can do. This app helped to unite the entire Montreal community of commuters. "...passengers who enter their Opus card number [with their Merci App] will receive more targeted and relevant offers based on the information they provide. University students majoring in fine art...might receive offers for discounted museum admission." Plus a requirement of STM's partners is that a portion of their rewards must include free offers. Those will go first to the commuters who most use the system.

5. It balanced the technology/storytelling mentioned in the top quote. As Bonneau described, "While the article touches on the underlying technology behind the groundbreaking mobile app that STM developed in a partnership with SAP, the story takes the reader behind the scenes to learn how the app helped to solve vexing business and marketing challenges."

6. Interesting side facts are pointed out. Riders get their award points in "trees," because STM wants customers to think they are reducing their carbon footprint. Information deemed critical is stored in one database under a passenger's first name, and non-critical information is stored in another with the passenger's last name. (Though I do wonder what they do with all the Jeans and Henris.)

7. There's a strong use of data and analytics. "The app was downloaded 5,000 times on its launch date, and STM quickly reached its pilot threshold of 20,000 downloads." "...customers received approximately 2.5 million commercial or STM offers, with a 4% click rate and 3% redemption rate."

Finally, I've been quoting the "cover letter" from the entry form which definitely contributed to the overall effectiveness of the entry. Bonneau ended hers almost poetically, talking about the insiderPROFILES audience—"Servers, stacks, spindles, and SDKs are, for many, the business language of necessity. But just because it's the language of necessity doesn't make it the language of choice."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…