Alterian: DMers Upbeat for '06, Data Issues Are Challenges

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Optimism in the direct marketing industry remains high for a second year, though major operational challenges must be tackled, according to a trans-Atlantic annual survey from Alterian, a database marketing and customer insight solutions provider.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they expect their DM spending -- or their clients' -- to increase in the next year, with only 5 percent saying it will decrease. This mirrors last year's survey forecast of 60 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Confidence in the United States was higher than in the United Kingdom this year: 70 percent versus 53 percent.

Almost 700 marketers and marketing services providers in North America and the UK took part in the survey, conducted at the end of 2005.

The survey also examined budget allocation for direct marketing, with 47 percent spending $1 million or more. Expenditure for 27 percent of respondents fell into the highest budget category of $5 million and more.

Among the challenges creating a "DM-related headache," 52 percent cited customer insight and analysis. Second was data hygiene with 46 percent.

Though respondents were asked about legislative issues, only 34 percent said they have "a full understanding of current and anticipated data legislation and best practices."

"This presents a rather worrying picture with legislation set to become more complex this year and challenges such as identity theft looming large," Alterian CEO David Eldridge said in a statement.

Technical awareness and maximizing return on IT investment also were high on marketers' agenda. Forty-seven percent said that despite access to a variety of technologies within the marketing department, the technologies are not used to best advantage. This could result from a lack of appropriate tools for marketers or a shortage of skills in the marketing department.

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