Governance (such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and best practices (such as opt-in marketing) are two other factors influencing direct marketers' desire for channel/data integration and data quality. Schmitt predicts this activity will lead to a centralization of both customer information and different lines of business within organizations.
Technology developments, logically, are being focused on data hygiene tools and solutions that help companies identify customers across channels.
Tools aside, direct marketers have their work cut out for them in developing a centralized customer view. Schmitt sees the biggest short-term opportunity as the integration of a firm's Web site with its primary customer database.
If companies can log online behavior and combine it with knowledge captured from other channels, while the customer still is online, they have the ability to tailor site interaction to motivate a purchase or further dialogue. And that's a more efficient and profitable marketing process for both companies and customers, says Schmitt.
Smart Creative Invites People In
When it comes to creative trends, advertising and marketing is about to enter a new era. To get attention and generate response, successful creative has practically clobbered people over the head, resulting in a consumer who feels beaten up and who is starting to fight back by finding ways to avoid marketing messages.
To get invited back into people's lives, tomorrow's creative approaches need to be more personal and respectful, says Sid Liebenson, executive vice president and director of marketing at Draft, a full-service direct response agency with headquarters in Chicago.
The ability to craft more personal communications is dependent on collecting data that can be translated into attitudes that spark greater consumption and loyalty, he explains. To achieve this, direct marketers are finding ways to link databases and sales promotion tools to identify customers—especially via the Web.