How Data Changed Marketing – The Past 10 Years of Direct Marketing, ConclusionAugust 20, 2013 By Heather Fletcher
In order to integrate anything into the way they do business, humans need data. At this point, direct marketers need to understand "Big Data" or have tools that can do that for them. That's because customer intelligence is the differentiating factor that draws in a portion of the $300,000 consumers are spending each minute, says Devyani Sadh, CEO and head of client relations at Data Square.
Back when there was only a little data to integrate, humans could do it in a computer called "the brain." Now, though, IBM says: "Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data—so much that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone."
Tracking back a bit, it seems as though the need for data is what drove the creation of direct marketing in the first place. There was already too much going on in commerce alone for one brain to handle when, in 1939, Lester Wunderman suggested Economy Ribbon Mills create a "ribbon-of-the-month club" for ribbon buyers, so they would remember Economy's ribbons and be able to differentiate them from the competition.
In "Being Direct," Wunderman writes that a magazine ad allowed buyers to sign up to join the free club, which would entitle them to samples of that month's "hottest-selling" ribbons. Each sample described the ribbon's name, style, fabric, colors and how best to use and sell it. Wunderman says the campaign "was a success" because buyers no longer had trouble differentiating Economy's samples, which they had already been getting prior to entering the club, from all the other samples they received.
Wunderman's world of 1939 hadn't yet entered the frenetic pace of today's channel integration challenges, though.
Looking at a snapshot from just the past decade, it's easy to see marketers learning lessons by trial and error while they learned how to best use new channels—including email.