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Marketing trends get personal in 2012

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Allison Schiff, web editor, Direct Marketing News
Allison Schiff, web editor, Direct Marketing News

Targeting and personalization techniques are going to be hot stuff in 2012 and marketers will have to stay up-to-date or possibly be left in the dust. So says Shawn Myers, senior manager of product marketing at marketing software company Responsys, which released its list of its top five marketing trends to watch for in 2012 this week.

With multichannel campaigns in particular, keeping ahead of the curve couldn't be more vital, Myers told me on the phone today.

“There are a lot of moving parts – everything from deliverability to new channel integrations,” he said. “These are exciting times for us because it's making marketers have to work that much harder and be that much smarter, and work with partners who are that much more capable.”

So, what's in store for 2012?

(drum roll please)

The top five marketing trends for 2012 according to Responsys:

1. Integration of social data will drive the personalization of marketing campaigns.

2. Display advertising will be integrated as part of relationship marketing strategies.

3. Mobile marketing will become even more targeted.

4. Geo-location data will be used across channels.

5. Deliverability engagement levels will drop as ISPs begin to clean out their inboxes.

It's not as if any of these trends, especially regarding the prevalence of social, are earth-shattering – and if they are, get out from under that rock – but, said Myers, they are continuing trends that will doubtlessly ramp up in the coming year.

“What's changing, what's different here, is that there are new types of information and new types of channels out there that are really taking off, especially in the social space where we've seen explosive growth,” he said. “From a marketing standpoint, it's about using those channels, not just as a means to communicate, but also as a means of understanding consumers.”

As a corollary to these trends, here are a few points that came out of my conversation with Myers.

1. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

People's tolerance to and preference for marketing personalization is changing over time.

“There are things that make sense to a digital native, for example, that certainly wouldn't make sense to the previous generation,” said Myers.

While a direct mail piece addressed to “dear resident” might have been enough 30 years ago, people have come to expect personalized communications that speak to them on a variety of levels.

“And they're more willing to accept what comes with that – that there's going to have to be some data gathering at the back end,” he said.

2. Avoid the “creepiness factor.”

But even digital natives have their limits when it comes to personalization and targeting as they relate to personal privacy. Consumers react positively to personalized interactions that benefit them, but there is a tipping point when it just gets downright creepy.

“One of the biggest hazards of marketing today is the ever changing landscape,” Myers pointed out. “It's an exciting time, but it's also a time when marketers really have to have good tools at hand so they can efficiently scale data and stay ahead of the curve regarding best practices.”

3. Innovation is great, but don't go overboard.

Myers said trying new things is great, but marketers need to keep their audiences firmly in mind. Engagement, not alienation, is really what's driving the heart of personalization.

“Consumer tolerance can change over time, and as a marketer,” Myers warned, “you have to be really rational and thoughtful by trying new things in a cautious way sometimes.”

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