One of my colleagues asked me about the direct marketing trends for 2020. I think we need to start with the state of direct marketing – where we are today.
Direct marketing is experiencing a rebirth in terms of print. We saw tremendous emphasis on the on concept of omni-channel marketing in 2019. This provided a new way of thinking in terms of how campaigns need to be structured. Digital products, like USPS Informed Delivery became a major part of the story. The truth is that direct marketing continues to grow. And it gets bigger, more targeted and more sophisticated with each passing month.
Direct marketing is a very effective and powerful way to share information about a product or service. At its core, it’s about targeting the customer, providing information, offering a response mechanism and having a way to track whether it worked.
The premise is the same regardless of whether the marketer is using traditional or digital marketing channels. The best, as we all learned in 2019, combines different channels into a single campaign.
I’m sure there will be many pundits espousing new marketing trends for 2020. These are mine.
In 2020 we will see an increase in blended-channel marketing experiences. We called this an omni-channel experience in 2019. The key is to combine multiple marketing channels to increase your importance to your customer/prospect. In 2020, the blended channel experience will be more segmented. Marketers will offer different experiences targeted to different people.
In terms of marketing trends for 2020, some of the noteworthy channels will include digital self-service ordering, AI-powered chat, and “offline human-to-human interaction”. I love that expression – we used to call that customer service.
Successful companies will be the ones that are able to unify data across channels. The goal is to create seamless, people-focused customer experiences. That means the chat-bot and the human speak in the same tone. And the chat-bot knows when it’s time to send the customer to the human.
Marketers have always focused on telling a great story. We all know that good content is king. As marketers, we need to make sure that every piece of content has a purpose. It has to have value to the target audience.
We have better segmentation options that ever before. Nowadays we can market to a universe of one in multiple marketing channels, including digital and print. This makes targeting our storytelling efforts easier – therefore more responsive.
The challenge will be compressing the story into bite sized pieces of content that people can share with their friends. Just a reminder, sharing can be done digitally or in print. Never underestimate the power of a great postcard or brochure when shared amongst friends.
A different kind of social
I think social marketing will be more challenging in 2020 due to the upcoming election year. The major social channels already more ads than ever before. Some consumers may revolt and find other ways to be social.
At the same time, ad costs for social are going up. Advertisers will keep getting smarter about how to use social media and how much to spend. They will also become more sophisticated marrying the social with other marketing channels, including direct mail.
Marketers will continue to use social for their branding. Influencers will become more important. Using these influencers as a face of a company will move from solely being digital back to traditional media.
This will complete the circle of a well-constructed blended-channel campaign.
In 2020, we’ll see brands using interactive content experiences to engage with both customers and prospects. Some of these experiences include quizzes and polls. My personal favorite is a photo contest. I loved being able to upload a photo to National Geographic and get an email that they put it on their site. These vehicles not only build brand engagement, but marketers can learn about consumer and their preferences. This is a great way to acquire information directly from the source.
Getting this type of first-party feedback is priceless. You can’t get it from models or any other data source. But with great data comes great responsibility.
Privacy & data regulation
A major component of the marketing trends for 2020 will be privacy and data regulation. The new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) comes into effect in the New Year. The US is not alone in evaluating its approaches to regulations. The EU already has a law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This law has to do with data protection and privacy for all individual citizens of the European Union (EU).
At the same time, the industry itself is evolving to support privacy initiatives. The goal is to provide consumers with greater transparency and choice when it comes to their data.
As someone in the data field, this is really important to me. We want to do the right thing for our customers in accordance with the laws.