Get With the Trends in 2003

Although no one can predict where we’ll be a year from now, trends are taking shape in the world of e-marketing, and you’ll do a lot better if you’re prepared to take advantage of them. Here’s a glimpse at the movements I see gaining strength and my suggestions on how you should respond to them.

If any of these are hot button issues for you, stay tuned. I’ll talk more about each throughout the year.

Time to Get Down and Dirty

Times have changed, and it’s become clear the economy may not bounce back in the immediate future. This is forcing marketers to employ more efficient campaigns and try new ways to improve efficiency. The readers we’re trying to reach are getting savvier, and it’s time we all did, too.

Get familiar with emerging technologies such as personalization software, dynamic content, and rich media
— all will give new life to your newsletter strategy. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. The importance of acquiring new customers and retaining current ones will never be greater, so the tactics — getting the job done — will be what count this year. If you’re not afraid to get dirt under your fingernails, you’ll come out ahead.

Don’t Forget to Say, “May I?”

As mass-marketing response rates continue to plummet and new privacy laws are passed, marketers will be forced to uphold strict opt-in guidelines. The trend toward ensuring marketing programs are permission based will continue as spam thrives.

Show your audience respect by protecting your customer data — a must if you’re to build the trust of your customers and prospects. If you stay true to your customers, you’ll be the winner, as readers will choose a reliable, trustworthy company with which to build a long-lasting business relationship.

Assault on Customers’ Senses to Reach an
All-Time High

The average American sees as many as 3,000 advertising messages each day. Consumers go to great lengths, employing such devices as TiVo and email filters, to sift through all of the “junk” and save time and room for messages they want. In doing so, they are telling us:

  • They don’t want so many messages.

  • They can’t handle them.
  • If the sheer volume of messages continues to grow, increasingly more of them will be ignored, thrown in the trash, and deleted.

At the same time, however, we shouldn’t misunderstand. Consumers do want their information, but they are only going to let in the information they find relevant.

Informative Marketing Is What It’s All About

Use the data you have collected to do dynamic content generation and truly deliver one-to-one, personal marketing messages — messages that break through the clutter and really speak to your customers and prospects. Provide information that educates, informs, and entertains them, and your readers will continue opening your messages.

Accountability, Finally

The concept of accountability has long been absent in the marketing world, but no more will it pass us by. Marketers are becoming more accountable for the success of their programs, and that success is increasingly being measured in terms of return on investment (ROI).

You must develop, if you haven’t already, a unified approach that not only includes strategy and execution but also measurement and evaluation. A key part of this is testing. So don’t forget to test, retest, and test some more. That’s where you’ll find the real answers.

Another trend in accountability involves measurement and evaluation metrics. In this environment of intense competition, the measurability of marketing is top of mind for all corporate execs and should be for you as well. Show them which methods are working, where dollars should be spent, and how well their marketing investment is paying off.

If you’re not analyzing your program results down to the smallest detail, start doing so now. You’ll probably notice your payback is higher if you maintain an integrated campaign with consistent messaging across all of your communication channels — direct mail, telemarketing, email, and the Web.

“Customer Centric” Still Dominates; Be Relevant

Your readers — those savvy customers we talked about before — will continue to avoid “marketing relationships” and seek “service relationships” with companies that meet their unique needs. As a result, smart businesses are continuing to redefine their offerings based on specific customers’ needs. Join the trend and use profiling and personalization to not only discover your customers’ likes and dislikes but also to cater to them.

Other Trends: New Channels Are Sneaking Up On Us

  • Text messaging. This medium is booming around the world; as it’s starting to take off in North America, marketers here are beginning to use it for advertising and promotion.

  • Weblogs. Blogs are quickly becoming a phenomenon in community building that should not be ignored.
  • E-mail. Once a pioneering new medium, email has become quite established. Can you believe it has now taken over paper communication by a ratio of 10 to 1 and is the number one communications vehicle in the world? It’s now a must-use medium to communicate with customers and prospects.

OK, smart marketers, what do you see happening in your world? E-mail your insights to me at kgoodwin@imakenews.com.

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