Live from DMA 2011: Going International and 3 More Direct Marketing Trends from Floor
The floor at a DMA convention has a greater collection of direct marketing experience and talent than just about anywhere else in the world. I didn't make it into as many sessions this year as I have in years past, but I spent a lot of time on the floor talking to exhibitors and marketers. Some trends certainly emerged form those conversations. I have no hard data to back these impressions up, but this is what I heard on the floor.
1. More Marketers Are Looking International
Again and again, I spoke with data firms who were getting more requests for international lists, and marketers who said they were looking to try their direct messaging in other nations or languages. Taking your one-nation marketing campaign worldwide is never as easy as buying some new data, but it's indicative of how outside the box marketers are willing to go to get new business. If the U.S. economy isn't biting, why not cast some lines in neighboring ponds?
2. Social Marketing Means Listening First
One of the most interesting things about comparing DMA 2011 to 2010 is the tone of the social media conversation. Last year, firms were ready and eager to roll into social marketing with a yippy-ki-ay and a yee-haw. This year lots of firms are still at that point, others are fed up with it, and some marketers are finding success and actually driving sales, finding prospects and/or nurturing leads. Those who've been successful have a strategy, and it's called listening.
Gary Vaynerchuk said in Monday's DMA 2011 keynote that Twitter was the greatest business listening tool in the world. But other speakers from companies with mature, successful social media marketing programs shared a similar message—social media success starts with listening, not sharing. In the session "Why You Need a Social Media Ringmaster," for example, Jeanette Gibson, Cisco's director of social media, Zena Weist, vice president of Edelman Digital and former social media director of H&R Block, and Michael Donnelly of Coca-Cola all said that the first thing you should do when you're starting a social media strategy is listen to what's being said about you on social media already. Once you've established that you understand the conversation, then you can jump in to join those conversations. Do not dictate new conversations.
3. Mobile Is Looming
It's not that companies aren't using mobile to market already, but what we've seen so far is just the fin of the shark coming closer and closer while the Jaws theme song plays. Vendors are creating solutions that more easily integrate mobile; marketers are finding new ways to leverage the channel; and smartphone adoption rates keep creeping up and up—not to mention tablet ownership.
Marketers are going to have more options on how to use mobile soon, and probably won't know which of those options actually work for a few years. In a conversation, Patrick Spenner, managing director of Corporate Executive Board's marketing leadership council, said mobile is where social was 12-18 months ago. That sounds odd to say about a channel that was long before social media, but the increasing adoption of smartphones and increasing integration of mobile with other marketing tools is going to turn the corner soon.
4. Sophisticated Marketers Are Appending Data in Real-Time for Profit
Kimmel in his keynote talked about how marketers have the tools to be able to know who each customer is, what they're doing and where they're doing it at any given time. OK, he said the same thing last year, that wasn't really impressive anymore.
What was impressive was hearing data providers talk about customers using real-time data to, for example, look at the cookies or IP addresses of Web visitors and serve different offers to each visitor based on their financial history and what that meant for their anticipated life-time value or the products they were most likely to be interested in.
I also heard about companies using this same type of append technology applied to caller ID to sort and order callers in a customer service queue. The likely up-sells could be handled immediately by top performing CSRs, while low-value callers could be prioritized differently depending on their expected outcome. The technology is there if you have the ability, resources and customer volume to use it effectively.