Biggest challenges in DM

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Q: What's the biggest change you've seen in the direct marketing industry over the past few years?

A: Certainly leveraging online channel capability would be the biggest change. The capabilities - strong programming skills, strong technology and statistics backgrounds, and modeling of customer behavior - are there, but they have been in the hands of a select few people for a while. Those tools are now in the hands of marketers, the laypeople. No longer do people have to worry about having this second department with the technological capabilities.

Q: Where do you see the industry heading in the next few years?

A: There are always going to be multichannel marketers, but I think you'll see greater integration of all channels. Often we'll see e-marketing as a separate arm of a company but, in the future, we will see much more integration of e-mail, online, community sites, call centers and direct mail.

One of the things we see in terms of marketing and campaign management is more integration of not just the channel piece but also the analytics piece.

Q: What are CRM/database marketers doing very well right now?

A: The industry is very attentive to the need to integrate operating systems with back-end or analytic systems. We've gone from saying "personalized view of the customer" to "single view of the customer" because we realize that if we don't have a single view we can't have a personalized view. In order to have a single view you have to integrate analytical toolsets into operational systems, and those analytical tools have to be used by marketers.

Q: What do you think marketers should focus on doing better?

A: They should be providing their users with much more capability than they've had before - basically, moving the know-how from pure technical knowledge into business knowledge and giving that capability to business people. Certainly, with integration of marketing efforts in all channels, there's a lot more work that needs to be done there in terms of process changes, not just technology.

Q: What are some major differences you see between how America approaches the industry and what the rest of the world is doing?

A: First of all, direct marketing as an approach has in the US been much more advanced than anywhere else in the world. In the US, we as consumers receive direct mail pieces every single day. Only in the past few years have we had the right to opt out, so we sort of accept this whole thing as a channel and we accept it across multiple industries.

There are differences in the way channels are exploited, for example, we see less intrusive means. Telemarketing exists in the UK but, on the European continent, it is far less prevalent. There are marketers, analytics and an equivalent to the DMA in many countries, and some are really beginning to advance and become very active in specific issues.

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