Direct marketing; it’s the future

dm disciplinesA new report confirms what many in the direct marketing industry have been saying for years: the rise of data, insight, and accountability means one day soon DM will rule all.
The report has been compiled by Martin Hayward – ex-Henley Centre, Ogilvy, and former director of strategy and futures at DunnHumby UK – with input from Patrick Barwise, Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing at the London Business School, and leading industry commentators.
Backed by Royal Mail, the study states that relevance, response, and restraint will become the key drivers behind future marketing and media outreach.
Hayward said: “Direct marketing has always been seen as the rather unglamorous tactical cousin of the real business of marketing, but the reality today is that all marketers will now need to embrace the targeting, measurement and rapid response skills pioneered in this discipline.”
He predicts that within the next ten years, the industry will see the death of ‘the line’ as distinctions between traditional media and marketing functions continue to blur.
The white paper outlines the following new rules which will shape marketing communications towards 2020:
– Data will be plentiful, but needs to be gained from the consumer upfront and employed in a responsible manner. Understanding and earning consumer permission regarding marketing will be paramount
– Analogue communication will provide standout in a digital world – in the next five years marketing directors expect the proportion of advertising spend on direct mail to increase along with online, mobile, and social media
– Relevant targeting will become easier as a result
– Measurement will improve as media channels become much more accountable
– Costs of marketing communications will fall due to less wastage and marketing budgets may shrink as a result
– The reliance on creative execution to create standout will be reduced as more campaigns are delivered with the right message, to the right person, in the right way.
A further key driver for future marketing success includes fostering restraint to avoid over-intrusion, which may threaten to undo improved relevance and efficiency if not undertaken – also sees a development for media planning away from a channel-driven approach towards audience mapping.
In the white paper, Hayward notes that many of the barriers which have prevented the marketing world from becoming more effective have now been removed by the increasing digitisation of everyday life and improved insights from continuous and unobtrusive direct contact with consumers.
He outlines that accountability of marketing channels will dramatically improve, as marketing spend migrates ever more rapidly into direct and accountable channels. As distinctions between media channels blur and converge based on technology and consumer interaction, traditional definitions of marketing will become irrelevant.
The report includes research, conducted among the UK’s media and marketing directors, which highlights a move within the next five years to utilising a broader range of media to reach consumers most effectively. This research further finds that many in the marketing world believe it will be ever easier to reach specific target audiences with marketing communications. However, many feel that marketing budgets will remain the same or even decrease over the next five years as efficiency in targeting consumers increases.
This will lead to a greater accountability on spend, and importantly, pressure to deliver campaigns with consumers which engage and deliver long term value.
While few consumers are willing to see an increase in the number of marketing messages they receive, the report includes consumer research stating that, when a company knows more about an individual and their needs, they believe that marketing communications can become more relevant. However, many consumers wish to exercise levels of control over the amount of personal detail which is shared by companies and utilised for marketing purposes.
Mark Thomson, Media Director at Royal Mail, said: “This report tackles some of the major issues faced by marketers today and lays down some of the rules the marketing industry should play by if they are to enjoy success in the future. It is clear that marketing has to evolve to become more effective – it simply has to engage more directly with consumers to succeed. The consumer, their likes, needs and preferences have to become the centre of the marketers’ world.”
He added: “This is an issue broader than campaign success or failure. Channels which are used to bombard consumers with irrelevant messages and brands that refuse to learn these lessons will fall by the wayside.”
The full report, Marketing Communications Towards 2020: Looking for meaning in a land of plenty, is available at

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