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Why you need direct marketing

More than a century after its conception, direct marketing is finally coming of age. The emergence of technologies such as targeting engines, email and laser printing, which can create personalised and targeted content, have created an explosion of growth in direct marketing.

It’s not surprising when you realise that while 2 percent would be considered a good response rate for a typical untargeted piece of communications, truly personalised communications can achieve more than 60 percent. I’m not talking about a handful of different versions of an email to some different customer segments. I’m talking about a piece of communications in which every aspect – the message, the creative, the offer, the products and the channel – are all targeted to the recipient.

Imagine a world where all marketing communications are 30 times more effective than they are today, because that’s the world in which we’ll live within the next decade. Therefore, the reason that you should be upskilling on direct marketing is because soon all marketing will be direct and indirect marketing will disappear altogether.

This process is already well underway. Digital and on-demand video and radio services are significantly growing in market share at the expense of traditional broadcast services. This is important, because once these traditional broadcast services transition to digital and on-demand, it’s possible to identify an individual, track them over time and target specific ads to them. Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, recently trialled a service called Clubcard TV which allowed users to access TV and movie content if they signed up with their Tesco Clubcard, which is Tesco’s loyalty scheme. The content was ad supported and the ads were targeted using data on what users actually bought in their supermarket shopping. For example, a user who purchases a lot of healthy options during the usual weekly shop could be targeted for an ad about a new heath food product.

This trend isn’t just affecting broadcast media: print, indoor and even outdoor media are all digitising. Thanks to facial recognition and other biometric technologies, Minority Report style targeted outdoor advertising is already in the works by big names such as Microsoft and Panasonic. These technologies use cameras and machine learning algorithms to match faces with more than 99 percent accuracy. That means a person could be tracked anywhere over time and advertising can be targeted specifically to them.

We are on an unstoppable march towards more data driven and personalised advertising across all advertising channels. This is being pushed forward by huge increases in performance that targeting and personalisation deliver. The skills required to execute a marketing plan like this are very different from those that exist in the average marketing team today. All businesses should be looking at the capabilities that they are developing in this space to ensure that they are well positioned for this future.

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