Database stays healthy in downturn

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Database stays healthy in downturn
Database stays healthy in downturn

InfoGroup's Fairfield talks about trends in the data, research and marketing services industry


Q:
What's the significance of InfoGroup uniting under a single brand?

A: It's easier to do business with the same company under one roof. A lot of clients want to be aligned with fewer service provider, and put more money into one company so they can get the efficiencies that come with that.

Q: How has the recession impacted the direct marketing industry?

A: A recent study from the CMO 500 said that due to the poor economy, marketing spending was down an average of 25% overall — with spending on research down 34%. The only steady sector is integrated online marketing. The industry is also facing the overall secular change of the move away from traditional direct mail to digital. This shift was going to happen regardless, but I think the recession sped up the process. That doesn't mean that traditional direct marketing goes away completely. It just will get less budget and become more targeted.

Q: How is the shift from traditional to digital affecting the approach marketers should take to databases and lists?

A: It's been predicted that in the next five years the amount of data will double and much of it will essentially be called “free.” While data may become more or less free, what is still important is how accessible it is and how it's organized, if it's in an appropriate context and whether or not marketers have the ability to use it.

Q: What's your advice for marketers looking to acquire new customers?

A: I don't like to break the world into just retention and acquisition. I view acquisition as including the movement of expanding the services you are providing to existing customers or deepening your relationship with them. But when you are going out to get new customers, you should make sure that you've done your homework and have a targeted campaign. Know who your prospects are and be ready with the ability to follow up with them in a timely way.

Q: What are your predictions for the health of the market?

A: It's fair to say that before the economic crisis there was some waste in the system. During boom times you can get wasteful with your spend. We've seen an end to that and, as difficult as it is, there have been some good things to come out of bad economic headwinds. That being said, people have in some cases pulled back too far. I do think the level of spending has hit bottom. Now that marketers are seeing where their low is, people are regaining a little bit of confidence. Traditional media is going to be under pressure, although I think we will see some relief this holiday season.

Q: What trends should marketers keep their eye on for 2010?

There is a whole host of social media companies out there, and what is not clear yet is which elements are going to succeed and really monetize. A lot of conversation and some action is taking place in social media — it's very exciting.

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