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Mila D'Antonio | October 19, 2006

On the Minds of Direct Marketers

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During the DMA 2006 conference in San Francisco, John Greco, president and CEO, of the Direct Marketing Association, called for widespread use of something he’s coined the Three R’s: Results, Responsibility, and Relevance. He said they represent a delicate balance in the power of direct marketing. “Our goal is to build a bridge of trust with consumers,” he told the crowd.

But building that trust may be more challenging than we think. Some marketers at the DMA told me about the pressures and barriers that they and their clients face every day.

* Vernon Tirey, senior vice president of solutions, at ClickTactics, said that customers are taking more control over their buying and communications processes. “Your best customers are multichannel customers. Like anything else, if you’re a single channel company you can run the risk of being upstaged by multichannel.”

* Paul Soltoff, chairman and CEO of Sendtec, said marketers must be aware of click fraud. Click occurs in pay-per-click online advertising when a non-legitimate user of a Web browser clicks on an ad for the purpose of generating a charge per click. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud whether they like it or not. “We used to think it was a part of the game and used to build it into the bidding process. Now it’s out of control.” Stuart DePina, CEO of Who’s Calling, adds that click fraud can be mitigated if marketers get a better picture on convergent data.

* Laurene Cihosky, senior vice president, direct marketing, in the advertising and publishing business of Canada Post, said marketers face an explosion of media and need a new set ROI metrics to track results. Also, there’s a challenge in marketing to the Y Generation. “They’re very unique and they think differently. If you break their trust, they shut you down,” she said. She added that the days of the large press runs are coming to a close. Targeted and one-to-one mailings are spurring more frequent press runs, which call for highly trained printing personnel and greater resources.

* George Bilbrey, vice president and general manager of delivery assurance solutions for Return Path, says email deliverability is still a hot button for all email marketers. “On average, one in five messages doesn’t make it in the inbox,” he said. However, ISPs, he claimed, are getting better at sharing information. In the past, the marketers would simply get a bounce-back message. Today, ISPs are explaining exact reasons for the email return.

* Rick Erwin, senior vice president of marketing and product development for Experian Marketing Services, said many companies are troubled with multichannel response analysis. Experian recently launched a tool called Prospectvue that, Erwin explained, helps marketers conduct channel attribution. “It provides an understanding of which actions I took here, and delivered profit to this channel,” Erwin said.

Despite these challenges, the marketers at DMA 06 seemed driven to overcome them by creating and developing new tools and practices to help build that bridge of trust with customers and shape the exciting future of direct marketing.


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