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Is Direct Marketing moving into a new age?


With all the hype around digital and social marketing in the past couple of years, poor old Direct has been a bit overlooked. But there’s actually been a bit of a quiet revolution going on in Direct Marketing, thanks to a bunch of technologies that are opening up exciting new possibilities.

These tools are sweeping away the old problems. Before, campaigns were difficult to target, difficult to personalise and difficult to track. They also cost a lot of money, often for questionable return. Lists were unreliable, print costs meant mailings had to be mass-produced, emails got lost in overcrowded inboxes, and as for trying to track anything other than the most basic responses (opens, clickthroughs, registrations – and we all know what rates were like for those), well, forget it.

But now, a combination of tech trends and tools is making Direct a really exciting and innovative space to be in again. Here are six technologies that are changing the game for direct marketers:

Marketing Automation: The new generation of web-based marketing automation tools make it very easy to create and run campaigns, generate and score leads, and deliver them directly to Sales or develop them through ongoing nurturing. Monitoring and analytics complete the picture, giving you more control over and insight into your campaigns than ever before.

Personalisation: Thanks to advances in digital printing, personalised URLs and integration with data from CRM systems, online and offline campaigns can now be highly personalised. No more undifferentiated mass mailings: now you can truly address each target as an individual. And falling print costs mean you can afford to target smaller groups and experiment with different approaches.

Mobile: The biggest revolution in marketing communications since social media. The spectacular rise of the smartphone means your audience is now connected all the time, even on the move. Combined with analytics, that means you can target the right customer with the right content at the right time of day – and instantly measure, monitor and act on the results. Leads can be generated, scored, nurtured and/or delivered to Sales in real time – how’s that for marketing effectiveness?

CRM: For too long there’s been a disconnect between the CRM systems used by Sale and the tools and processes used by Marketing. Now it’s easy to integrate marketing automation systems with CRM systems so leads can flow directly to sales, and marketing can use customer profile data from CRM to segment, target and personalise campaigns like never before.

Analytics: The old days of creating a campaign, rolling it out, waiting weeks for the results and then analysing them are over. Now we can create a campaign, test it on a small segment, watch the results, tweak it and try it again, all in the blink of an eye. We’ve never had so much instant information about what works and what doesn’t. It’s not so much “closed loop” as “virtuous circle”: constant real-time feedback means we can make campaigns better and better all the time – until every marketing penny spent is earning multiples in revenue.

For me personally, all this means it’s a really exciting time to be in Direct Marketing. How about you? Are you finding new ways to apply our old Direct skills, or do you think the rise of social and digital means Direct has had its day?