The Explosion of Marketing Channels: The Past 10 Years of Direct Marketing Part 3
[Editor's Note: This is the third article in an eight-part, weekly series.]
Do you remember when fax marketing was a growing discipline? Neither do I. But there it is in red and blue in the graphic on Page 50 of Target Marketing magazine. That wasn't that long ago—March 2007—and chances are you haven't even looked at a fax machine during the past 24 hours. Or maybe even the past week, or month.
So it goes to show you just how much direct marketing channels have changed during the past 10 years. This article will drill down into what's new in the channels and look at many of the new forms of marketing emerging from them.
First, let's look back a bit:
Picking up the hefty 204-page October 2003 issue of Target Marketing magazine alone illustrates how valuable print was just 10 years ago—especially measured against the 60-page issue in October 2012. Looking inside the veritable time machine of the 2003 print issue, a couple things are clear:
1. Channels themselves haven't really changed, but how marketers are using them sure has; and
2. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Consumers use a lot of channels now, and sometimes use them interchangeably during just one transaction. So, yes, print marketing shrank since 2003 and Internet marketing exploded. But take a closer look.
- Print marketing is broken down in the "DMA 2013 Statistical Fact Book" into several categories—direct mail, catalog; direct mail, non-catalog; insert media; direct response, magazine; and direct response, newspaper.
- But so is Internet marketing—display, "other," search and social. A lot of marketers break search and social out as their own categories. I would argue that email and some aspects of mobile belong under the "Internet" umbrella, but then I'd end up sounding like the new marketers who want to lump all of mobile in, call the whole thing "digital marketing" and insist it's nothing like direct marketing. Before you write letters: Yes, I know better.
So my point here is, direct marketing still uses basic channels, it's just the investment in them and the options available within them that's changing.
For instance, just within social media, forums went out of favor and branded networks came into vogue. Here are some of the networks that are household names: Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Vine. A few former household names are now has-beens, such as Friendster and Myspace.
The number of apps and marketing automation options for this space alone are … awfully high. Then add in analytics, ad exchanges and even list brokers, and you're beginning to get the idea.
The DMA Fact Book shows how much money Web now brings in in U.S. sales: 2012 saw $651.9 billion, while 2006 brought in $338.6 billion. In 2012, expenditures of $32.5 billion for Web marketing surpassed 2006's $15.9 billion.
However, print's portion of sales eclipse that, at $820.2 billion in 2012, but down from $975.8 billion in 2006. That's with $67.2 billion budgeted in 2012, below the 2006 figure of $79.5 billion, according to the DMA Fact Book.
Yes, times and channels are changing.
As for that fax marketing category—that falls into "telecommunications," which now houses mobile devices, including the smartphones that have all of those social networking applications. (Fax marketing appeared in our inaugural "Media Usage Forecast" reader survey in March 2007 as a category with 6 percent of marketers planning to increase spend vs. 2006, 4 percent decreasing budget and 19 percent keeping it the same. By the 2009 survey, 6 percent of marketers planned to increase spend, 7 percent to lessen and 17 percent to keep it the same. In the 2010 forecast, the category disappeared.)
Even among the direct marketers who agree the basic channels are mail, radio, direct response television (DRTV), email, insert media, mobile, print, search, social, telemarketing, Web and video, they all see blurred lines.
For instance, a marketer can take out a display ad on Skype. The ad is classified as Web marketing, but it will probably click through to a landing page, which is e-commerce. If there's also a trackable phone number that leads to the call center, that's telemarketing. If it opens a chat window, that's still Web marketing. Skype is video calling, so is that video marketing or telemarketing? Or Web marketing? Or mobile? Or social? Or what some marketing vendors want to classify as "voice"?
Maybe it doesn't matter how it's categorized. Maybe all that's important is that it brings in results.
After all, direct marketing sales still remain relatively level, despite the past decade's channel changes. (See the chart, at right.)
As much as modern marketers like to think they invented direct and all its current terms, plenty were around before they got on the scene.
"Big Data" is new, you say? Check out the 2.5-page feature, starting on Page 87 in the October 2003 issue of our magazine. That's right, it's "Can You Predict the Future? When to use regression and neural networks in models."
OK, OK. But today's marketers invented touchpoints and attribution, right? Not so, according to our 2003 Direct Marketer of the Year, Richard Thalheimer, then of The Sharper Image. While now, direct radio may drive insurance consumers to their mobile devices to convert, or social networks may bring accounting client prospects to a branded website then to CliftonLarsonAllen offices, Thalheimer told us in 2003 that catalogs drove mail-order sales and boosted in-store purchases. Therefore, The Sharper Image devoted the largest percentage of its budget to catalogs and less so to television, solo mailers, print and radio.
So I have a question for you, marketers: What's another good example of new technology that's using old direct marketing concepts to its best advantage?