Saturday, 5 March 2011

Marketers can't go far wrong if they abide by the three 'r's - relevance, response and restraint / Royal Mail / Mark Thomson

A blog from Mark Thomson, Media Director at Royal Mail, based on their Future of Marketing white paper

Each and every marketer would like to look into the future to see how the media and communications marketplace is set to evolve. While that gift is out of reach for all but Mystic Meg, we can provide access to the next best thing. Over the latter half of 2010 Royal Mail worked closely with marketing communications expert Martin Hayward, the London Business School and other marketing experts on a white paper outlining how the marketing industry is set to evolve over the next decade (Future of marketing white paper).

The report predicts that the biggest changes for the industry are set to be driven by data – its access, its management, and its responsible use. Martin predicts that marketers will be increasingly inundated with ever greater quantities of consumer data. These will be amassed via a range of touch points including loyalty cards, CRM systems and digital channels as a result of data capture technologies improving rapidly since the late 1990s.

The good news is that this influx of data, if used effectively, will significantly help marketers to improve their targeting, ensuring the delivery of very tailored and relevant messages to their intended audience. This in turn will also lead marketers to increasingly use highly responsive, measurable and accountable direct marketing routes, both off and online. In fact, the use of highly targeted direct marketing channels will improve the relevance and cost effectiveness of marketing campaigns. And this could lead to marketing budgets shrinking over time as wastage decreases.
One direct marketing route set to receive an increase in investment is direct mail. Research undertaken amongst marketing directors during the course of the study found that many expect to increase the budget they allocate to 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.
The report also highlights there is likely be far less reliance on creative execution to generate this stand-out, as more campaigns are delivered with the right message, to the right person in the right way.
Communicating with consumers

However, when it comes to communicating with consumers, marketers need to exercise restraint. They should not be tempted to employ the increasing amount of consumer data available to over-communicate with prospects and customers. Those marketers that do are likely to experience a consumer backlash against their brands, and also help undo the efforts made by the industry to deliver more targeted communications campaigns.

Already many consumers are realising that their personal data is both powerful and valuable, and are becoming 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 their data. You never know, we might see the advent of new businesses that manage data – and vital direct access to consumers - 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. And it is worth remembering that if consumers feel they can trust companies to use their data sensibly, they will begin to share even more which will further improve targeting and drive revenue.

It’s clear that the marketing industry, like others, has to evolve with the times. Responsible use of the increasing amount of consumer data available, while it seeks to engage more directly with consumers, will be paramount in future strategies. The likes of consumers, their needs and preferences have to become the centre of the marketer’s world.

Those that take the opportunity to misuse the plethora of consumer data that will increasingly become available to bombard consumers with irrelevant messages will fall by the wayside.

As the industry hurtles headlong into the new decade, marketers can’t go far wrong if they abide by the three ‘r’s – relevance, response and restraint.
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