Future’s bright, the future’s DM

I think we all wish we had access to a crystal ball that reveals how the marketing marketplace is set to evolve.
Well, we can provide access to the next best thing. For the last six months we have been working with marketing communications expert Martin Hayward, the London Business School and other marketing experts on a white paper on the future of marketing.
The report, which looks at how the industry is set to evolve over the next ten years, contains very insightful information – particularly on data.
The white paper predicts that marketers will be increasingly inundated with consumer data, via loyalty cards and CRM systems, for example. This is as a result of capture technologies improving rapidly since the late Nineties. The online route, in particular, is already delivering and is set to provide an increasing amount of data capture opportunities.
The good news is that this influx of data, if used effectively, will significantly help marketers improve their targeting, ensuring the delivery of very tailored and relevant messages to their target audience. This in turn will also lead marketers to increasingly use highly responsive, measurable and accountable direct marketing routes, both off and online.
According to the white paper, marketing directors are expecting to increase their spend on direct mail over the next five years. This is not surprising because not only can direct mail be highly targeted and measurable; but critically it can drive analogue stand out, and therefore response, in an increasingly digital world.
But marketers need to take care. They should not be tempted to use the increasing amount of data available on consumers to over-communicate with them. Such an approach could lead to a consumer backlash. Restraint is required.
Many consumers are already realising that their personal data is both powerful and valuable. Some are increasingly concerned about data privacy and how much information marketers hold on them.
Therefore, it’s likely that in an era of plentiful data, consumers will take increased control of the information about themselves. You never know, we might even see the advent of new businesses that manage data on their behalf.
Moving forward marketers will need to elicit information in an upfront and open manner; ensure permission is carefully sought, preferences easily volunteered and changed.
As the industry rapidly evolves marketers can’t go far wrong if they abide by the three ‘r’s – relevance, response and restraint.
The full report, Marketing Communications Towards 2020: Looking for meaning in a land of plenty, is available at www.mmc.co.uk

Mark Thomson is media director at Royal Mail

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