Ahead of the Curve
By Lisa Yorgey Lester
Technology has been the biggest catalyst of change to the direct marketing industry. The introduction of the personal computer has enabled marketers to process large quantities of data and thereby maximize the advantages of direct marketing. Data analytics, marketing automation and optimization technologies not only give marketers unprecedented access to data, but allow them to manage and manipulate it. They've been able to market more efficiently and smarter as a result.
Marketers can better leverage their customer information and campaign histories to make more relevant offers to customers and prospects. Here's a look at some of the technologies that can help marketers achieve this goal.
The growth of multichannel marketing is driving the use of marketing automation technology. These tools improve and automate workflow within marketing, and include marketing resource management, digital asset management and campaign-management applications.
At Ambrosi, a Georgia-based direct marketing agency, Vice President of Strategic Planning Paul Marobella says he's seeing a growing demand for process workflow and content-management applications, particularly as more marketers use multiple channels. Managing digital assets is critical to managing brand consistency across channels, says Marobella, adding that as more channels are added to the marketing mix, more departments touch each campaign. "This is where technology, such as online approval of creative, can streamline workflow," he adds, particularly if all people involved in the approval process are not in the same physical location.
A streamlined or automated workflow allows marketers to spend more of their time contemplating marketing strategy, observes Richard Muller, executive vice president of consulting and analytics for KnowledgeBase Marketing, a Texas-based integrated marketing- and CRM-solutions provider.
"Using content that is based on what you know about [a customer] as an individual, not a segment … that is the Holy Grail," says Greg Gianforte, founder and CEO of RightNow Technologies, a customer service and support solutions company based in Montana.