Direct Marketing In 2011 and Beyond
In our conversations with marketers, I see a fascinating dichotomy regarding direct marketing. On the one hand, the term is often perceived as outdated, relating to tactics like direct mail and telemarketing. On the other hand, the principles of direct marketing – evaluating the cost of acquiring a customer, focusing on relevance, propensities, and targeting, as well as testing and learning – have never been in more demand.
At Forrester, I sit on a team that focuses on what we call Customer Intelligence (CI) – how companies capture, integrate and manage, analyze, and apply knowledge about their customers. In many firms, the CI team has grown out of direct and/or database marketing, but in the leading firms we find the capture and application of knowledge has extended way beyond marketing, and not just direct marketing. Evaluating In our research, we find that only 12% of companies operate at a level of strategic intelligence – using customer data and insight as a strategic, and enterprise-wide, asset. There are many reasons why firms struggle to evolve to this level. Most often, we find data dispersed throughout the organization, businesses aligned around products or services and not around customers, and a culture that fails to put the customer at the core of the business. And it’s not getting any easier in the year, or years, ahead. The pace at which marketers must adapt and evolve continues to accelerate. What can you expect to face in 2011 and beyond? Let me break it down into those core areas of focus:
- Data capture will evolve far beyond traditional sources. This means direct and database marketers must become comfortable with unstructured data – from social media, voice-of-the-customer programs, or call center logs – and online data.
- Data integration will become increasingly complex. Given the explosion in types of data, it’s no surprise that data integration will become gnarlier. Customer data integration must go digital, and marketers have to prepare for data-as-a-service that allow users to access data when it is needed.
- Analytics must turn data into intelligence in real time. So many databases were built for a different era. We no longer live in a batch communications world. As testing velocity continues to accelerate, analytics resources will become increasingly valuable, and scarce. And, multi-channel fractional attribution can no longer be considered a “nice to have.”
- It’s not just about outbound direct communications any more. Customer Intelligence at the most advanced firms will be applied throughout the business, driving advanced advertising – online in the short term, and on TV in the not-too-distant future. CI will be used to enhance the customer experience – wherever the interaction with the customer is initiated.