As marketing accountability continues to be a hot topic among the C-suite, and the importance of direct marketing, because it can tested, tracked and measured, continues to grow, one truism must be kept top-of-mind in all marketing channels: “It’s all about the data.” It’s important to note that the role of traditional direct marketing is shifting. As marketers search for ways to cut through the clutter and try to differentiate themselves with relevant messaging and get the best bang for their marketing spends, here are some trends that are both worth watching and testing, starting with your understanding of the data:

  • Data/Data Analytics – What story is your data telling you? Invest in understanding your customer, prospect and lapsed customers, by each channel you use. It’s the surest way for you to market smarter and pick-up on trends within your own customer files. It also leads to more intelligent prospecting. With the onslaught of data, prospecting lists are more refined and targetable than ever.  This should be priority spend number one. Data is king. Ask Amazon, Google and/or Dell.
  • Direct Mail/Catalogs – Mail continues to be the best way for marketers to identify and reach out to prospects. As mail volume is down, the chances of being noticed are even better. Mail will be used by smart marketers to build their customer base; it will also be used after a contact by a prospect was made. It works wonders in taking the engagement started by social media to a marriage by closing the sale, and the amount of personalization capable based on the data at hand is remarkable. It’s also more cost effective to uber-personalize than ever before, which makes mail a wise spend.

Don’t forget to test mail on the back-end, especially for two-step programs where a prospect has requested additional information. You should also test a letter and other direct mail components in an initial order that has shipped. Test different messaging and offers here, as that’s a trend you will see more and more in the coming months. Think Amazon, Overstock or any catalog/web merchant who ships items to the buyer.  You’ll be surprised at some of the findings and some of the results you’ll garner with this type of testing. Who doesn’t want more repeat buyers? This is an inexpensive way to get big lifts in sales and repeat buyers.

  • Telemarketing – Do you remember when people used to actually talk to you on the phone? For B2B campaigns especially, a good old fashioned phone call can help solidify your relationship, so don’t forget to add this to your list of trends to test. For B2B, invest in calling. It will pay off when tested correctly.

The biggest trend will be the testing of the best media mix to optimize ROMI with multi-channel, integrated campaigns with the wisest spend. Your data will help you determine that faster and more economically than anything else. Solo marketing efforts like a catalog or direct mail campaign, email campaign or media buy will become less common because they will prove to be less effective, but your data could tell you otherwise.  Thoroughly understanding your data and acting upon smart tests will make your campaigns more profitable.