Cover Story: The Big Qs of 2011
"The underlying theme for marketers has always been about successfully engaging customers," says Johnston. "Today, that means effectively utilizing both online and offline channels and having them work smarter together, while also understanding a customer's threshold for receiving information across those channels."
"It's imperative that marketers build an air-tight, tested program for turning an inquirer or first time buyer into a second time buyer," says Lois Brayfield, president of the Mission, Kan.-based direct marketing consultancy J. Schmid & Assoc. "Just putting them into a mailstream is not enough." She rates triggered marketing programs–—which launch targeted marketing communications when certain triggers are met, such as sending an automated, yet personalized, email a number of weeks after a purchase—as a top priority.
How Do You Manage Multichannel?
"The most challenging development in direct marketing is the back edge of the new media sword," says Eric Schmitt, executive vice president and senior principle of Allant Professional Services Group in Naperville, Ill. "Channels like online video advertising and mobile apps bring new opportunities for direct marketing ... but at the very steep price of fragmentation. This complicates budgeting and measurement. Best-in-class marketing organizations are operationally competent across a range of channels, and have invested in data integration and multichannel analytics on the back end. This mix is crucial to efficiency, effectiveness and agility."
However, the proliferation of channels also offers marketers better tracking opportunities of some media than they have had before. As Goodman of Modern Postcard notes, "technologies such as barcoding, multiple phone line provisioning, email metrics, PURLs and more are putting advanced tracking technologies in the hands of virtually any business."
The question isn't whether or not you're using multiple channels in your direct marketing, the question is how many are you using? For more and more marketers, the answer is a lot, and the challenge is how to make sense of the analytics feedback they provide. Direct Marketing Association CEO Lawrence M. Kimmel identifies "effectively leveraging data across the entire enterprise; allowing the customer experience to be seamless regardless of touchpoint" as the key factor separating industry leaders from laggards.