In the interview process for Target Marketing magazine's January cover story, "The Big Qs of 2012," we asked our expert panelists what they foresee being the biggest headaches for direct marketers this year. Several of them declined to answer, but those who did answer offered these warnings:
What's going to cause direct marketers the most headaches in 2012?
Lawrence M. Kimmel, CEO, Direct Marketing Association (DMA):
"Data has always fueled our ability to target audiences and evaluate effectiveness. Yet, in today's deluged data environment, the "data-divide" is widening. As unprecedented levels of data become more available to marketers, our ability to target more effectively has increased exponentially. However, as marketing channels proliferate and data demand skyrockets, (close to 30 billion gigabytes—per month), our ability to measure has become more difficult. Therefore, we need to recalibrate our core metric tools to better align with the new set of KPIs dictated by the age of social marketing. We need to re-engineer analytic approaches to reflect new models like dynamic algorithm optimization, and statistical methods for social networks. They require learning new techniques. We need to identify new best practices. We need to observe and learn from industries that have become more quick and nimble in how they react to market shifts. Adopting new ways to optimize data can result in significant market advantage for those companies who learn to close the digital divide earlier—sooner rather than later."
Russell Perkins, founder and managing director, InfoCommerce Group:
"It may not happen in 2012, but it's bound to happen fairly soon: the cumulative impact of so many violations of online privacy are going to result in tough new restrictions on online marketers."
Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing:
"Three recent events indicate the headaches to come in 2012: 1) Facebook’s recent settlement where they agreed to respect consumer’s privacy, 2) Capitol Hill’s attack on Verizon, "While we understand the benefits of tailoring advertising to customers, we strongly believe that customers should be in control of the sharing and disclosure of their personal information through an Opt-In process,” and 3) the Canadian law (which will go into effect this spring), that electronic commercial messages—including email, texts, and messages via social media—going to, through, or from Canada without prior consent could bring severe consequence."This continues the inexorable path toward opt-in, consent-based marketing. I think this is a good thing. It has been proven to improve the quality of marketing in countries such as Denmark and Germany who have long had these practices."
Ken Lane, senior marketing consultant, J. Schmid & Assoc.:
"Uncertainty—economy, post office, elections, geo-political unrest, USPS."
Lois Brayfield, president and chief creative officer, J. Schmid & Assoc.:
"I agree 100 percent with Ken. Specifically, the government will continue to create roadblocks for marketers with fears of postal increases, privacy issues, taxation and other geo-political unrest"