5. Database marketing: Say hello to the new rock stars: There was a lot of chatter during the course of 2010 about the science, discipline and results of database marketing emerging from the shadows, taking a seat at the head of the boardroom table. The new era of connectedness means that actionable data about consumers and brand interactions can be found everywhere. This data will inform a smarter, leaner, more effective practice of addressable, highly optimized marketing communications. The database marketers owned the traditional “direct” channels, including direct mail and email. Now their data-driven approach can be applied to increasingly connected media, including television and video, website content, social media, and online display advertising. The emergence of connected media and the multi-channel marketing database is going to put database marketers in high demand, and at the helm of the overall brand marketing initiative.
6. The rebirth and resurgence of email: On December 29, 2010, according to an InformationWeek.com story citing a ForeSee Results study, promotional emails were the primary driver of traffic to web sites of the top 40 online retailers, exceeding SEM and social. The only thing more cliché than proclaiming “email is dead” is rebuttal “email is not dead.”
So for the record: email is not and never was dead. In fact, it’s not even at death’s door. Not even the sniffles. Email continues to be an incredibly effective channel for migrating massive audiences to online destinations. Marketers and consumers know it, trust it, and bank on it. But consider also that an email address is perhaps the second most important form of personal identification to generations of Americans behind only their Social Security number. As long as the email address is the standard for unique identification within the connected world, email marketing will thrive. The shape and form and consumer use cases for what we know as the “inbox” will undoubtedly morph in 2011 and beyond, as social media goliaths like Facebook and Twitter influence how individuals communicate, and as mobile phones change how and when we view emails. The concepts of permission and addressability take on even more importance as consumers create, grow, prune, and manage an increasingly complex ecosystem of online and social networks. Email marketing sees a rebirth as not just a one-dimensional tool for driving e-commerce or website traffic, but as the best option for managing the flow of impressions and engagement across a brands various online assets – from web, to social, to mobile, and more.
7. The socialization of digital database marketing: The socialization of online media, communications and consumer behavior is quickly taking root. One of the key reasons Facebook poses such a threat to Google is the wealth of data Facebook can compile from user- and peer-generated comments and opinions. The socialization of the Web means the opinions and past experiences of a consumer’s trusted network will trump branded content or traditional marketing communications in very meaningful ways, like brand perception and purchase decisions. With brands achieving competency in leveraging social media for customer service objectives in 2010, now database marketing will achieve competency using social data and content to drive marketing lift and intelligence. The interactions of consumers and the opinions they share across social networks – beyond “likes” – can inform an existing database profile. This leads to creating even better targeting opportunities across complementary channels like email, display advertising, even direct mail and video. Database marketers will also enjoy continued experimentation, demonstrating how social content can increase a lift in response and better conversions across digital and non-digital channels.
8. Display advertising, privacy and the dirty word “behavior”: In response to consumer discomfort with online behavioral tracking, the FCC is taking a close look at how display advertisers identify, track, and compile activity data around Web users. Consumer opinions are tough to change, particularly when it comes to privacy. As long as people are wary of the compilation and use of online behavioral data, the government will be involved. The onus is not on consumers to adapt, or Congress to set aside skepticism. The onus is on marketers to explore new and better methods for facilitating more relevant display advertising (onsite targeting) while respecting permission, preference and privacy. These are already the marketer-accepted tenets of effective permission-based direct digital marketing. With the emerging tracking and targeting capabilities of display advertising, marketers must assume a similar ethical framework. What marketers will also find is that – in the age of the social Web – respecting consumer permission, preference and privacy is an effective marketing strategy, and not simply an honorable ethos.
Stay tuned for the final three direct digital marketing trends to round out the 11 trends for the new year!