Four years ago I was asked to write an article for Leap Year, predicting the four most important trends for direct mail over the following four years. I’m proud to say I was 100% accurate when I predicted multi-channel integration, the increased importance of data, the evolution of digital printing and the need for sophisticated postal strategies as some of the most important trends in our industry.
The challenge of having a perfect score is it’s tough to improve. Just ask Nate Silver, who was 100% accurate in his predictions for how all 50 states would vote in the 2012 election. Last August, Silver predicted that he and his FiveThirtyEight team were “going to make plenty of bad predictions over the course of the 2016 campaign.”
While it’s true that the rapid changes taking place in direct marketing make this year’s Leap Year predictions more challenging and increase the potential for bad predictions, we are confident of the staying power of direct mail. My colleague, Debora Haskel, still gets a laugh when she refers to direct mail as the “Betty White of marketing, constantly evolving in new roles and remaining a star.”
IWCO Direct continues to evolve by capitalizing on the trends we identified in 2012. While direct mail remains the foundation of our business, its impact on other channels has influenced our continued investment in game-changing technology, equipment and people. While IWCO Direct cannot take credit for developing the continuous digital inkjet devices that now fill our facilities, we were instrumental in guiding how equipment manufacturers adapted these devices from their original role in transactional and transpromo printing to become an unstoppable force in direct mail marketing.
It’s déjà vu all over again on the front-end of the digital print platform. We are actively engaged in the development of a dynamic content platform that allows marketers to optimize the capabilities of the continuous digital platform. That optimization is guided by our expansion into providing data and strategy expertise that is driving an increase in ROMI for our clients. ROMI is not the only thing increasing. Many of our clients are increasing the use of direct mail as part of their integrated marketing campaigns after testing showed a reduction in the use of mail suppresses response across other channels. It’s like removing Betty White from the cast of a sitcom and watching viewer ratings diminish.
Another trend we’re seeing is a focus on making paper-based marketing as environmentally-friendly as possible. We’re excited about the advances we’ve made in producing promotional plastic cards that have enhanced biodegradability. Like direct mail and Betty White, the use of promotional cards continues to evolve with more sophisticated personalization that drives an increase in response. Savvy marketers are using promotional cards as a key element of their testing strategy. The results of those tests are pretty remarkable.
Super Tuesday is the day after Leap Day this year. Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight team will be closely watched to see how their predictions fare. When he was the keynote speaker at DMA in 2013, Silver talked about the need for humans to interpret big data in order to use it most effectively. That’s another trend we see continuing – automation will drive efficiency in marketing campaigns but its effectiveness will continue to be guided by expertise that comes from knowledgeable people. That’s why we continue to expand our Marketing Services team to enhance the use of our Proprietary Intelligence platform in our clients’ campaigns.
Do you have any predictions to share? Leave a comment here – and don’t forget to vote next week if you live in a Super Tuesday state. Nate will be watching you.
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