Direct marketers and brand marketers are starting to explore and execute their unique strengths and perspectives to embrace those disciplines that at one time would have been considered outside their practice. The shift is happening in actual practice, driven by the benefits that interactive marketing brings to all marketers.
Direct marketers will talk the talk but walk a bit differently
The first thing to expect in 2007 is that the "talk" will continue to be couched under the umbrella of direct marketing despite actual shifts in practice. Direct marketers are moving more dollars online with a renewed focus on the consumer, integration, and re-directed definitions of accountability. Parallel to this discussion there will be increasing overlap in trends, focus and initiatives in both the brand and direct marketing camps.
Integrated marketing will make advancements
While direct marketers have flocked to email marketing as a natural extension of their historical focus on direct mail, advancements in email and other interactive disciplines are driving testing and implementation across different channels.
Marketers are becoming more flexible with how they view different platforms, vehicles and their roles in the marketing mix. Direct marketers are expanding their use of the catalog, the website and other marketing channels. What may have once been primarily viewed as an ordering mechanism or direct sales channel is now being cultivated for multiple purposes while still retaining a focus on measurement and ROI.
In response to this, content is also playing a more major role as a contributor to driving ROI.
Shift in business models and measurement
Digital marketing has clearly made it to the C-level suite, but many companies are still struggling with how to respond to the change in dynamics in their business planning. Many marketers -- but particularly direct marketers -- are working with a fixed budget that was developed in the C-level suite rather than in response to testing and opportunity, which demands a more rolling type of budgeting and forecasting. The fixed budget approach is being challenged as marketers deliver proven tests, but it challenges many organizations at the highest level, creating necessary dialogue and intersections between operations, finance and marketing. The approach to metrics, budget setting and management -- and even how to measure the success of a business -- are being re-evaluated. The mass adoption of the internet and digital networks requires organizations to adapt different processes and approaches to how we share and manage information across the enterprise. One of the most significant impacts is the evolution of metrics.
The application of data will become more sophisticated
Expect direct marketers to flex their inherent strength in database marketing, direct mail and segmentation more fully as it applies to interactive marketing. In order to enable this there will be more investment in technology gathering better data to make informed data driven decisions.
The critical importance of data continues for direct marketers with a focus on integration, targeting and renewed perspective on what is relevant. The industry is still evolving and imperfect with data integrity and consistency across capabilities, but marketers are responding with developing integrated dashboards and demanding more from their technology providers.