Top 5 Spending and Investment Insights from Marketers

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Top 5 Spending and Investment Insights from Marketers
Top 5 Spending and Investment Insights from Marketers

You've heard of Christmas in July, so why not end the month with a few New Year's resolutions? For some people, New Year's resolutions mean buying a gym membership or vowing to finally clean out the closet in the hallway—neither of which is likely to happen (at least for me). But for data-driven marketers, New Year's resolutions mean continuing to achieve great marketing results by using customer data responsibly and staying at the forefront of the latest trends in the industry.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) works with New York-based strategic consulting firm Winterberry Group to publish a Quarterly Business Review (QBR).  The review surveys marketers and compares current industry performance to previous quarters. According to the report, high confidence in the value of data-driven marketing and new goals for the year resulted in practitioners dedicating the first quarter of 2014 to diversifying media, increasing staff, and acquiring new customers.

The QBR report highlights trends in data-driven marketing (DDM), including changes in spending, media mix, and marketer confidence.  Here are a few insights based on the report that you can apply to your own marketing strategy.

1. Email and direct mail are still relevant. Contrary to popular belief marketers are still engaging with long-proven channels, such as email and direct mail. In fact, email is reemerging as a priority for new or expanded marketer spending, landing in the top three marketing channels along with social media and search. In addition, direct mail spending is decreasing at a significantly lower rate than in previous quarters. This trend suggests that marketers are beginning to realize its value in today's economy. To increase your chance of marketing success, diversify your media mix to include both traditional and inbound channels.

2. Spending increases imply a growing economy. Marketers are showing their confidence in DDM and the economy by opening their wallets. U.S. spending on DDM grew more substantially during the first quarter of 2014 than any calendar quarter since 2011 (and during any first quarter since at least 2009). Furthermore, DDM spending is expected to increase or stay the same for the second quarter of 2014,indicating that the trend of spending growth will continue.

3. Successful data-driven marketing requires qualified staff. For the first time in more than a year, investment in new staff has increased. Staff investment may have been used for recruiting new talent, training current employees, or participating in ongoing professional development. With the constant changes to the marketing industry, it's important to have fresh talent and ensure current staff stay on top of the latest trends, policies, and platforms.

4. Now is the time for customer acquisition. Customer acquisition accounted for a higher percentage of first-quarter DDM budgets than budgets from any other quarter in the past two years. As the economy recovers and consumers seek more products and services, marketers are likely to allocate more of their resources toward customer acquisition. In addition, many businesses are expanding or are planning to expand, which leads to increased focus on customer acquisition.

5. Confidence in DDM is sky-high. Data-driven marketers are optimistic about the future of DDM and expressed enthusiasm about its profitability, projecting increases or no changes in profitability for next quarter. The C suite is also showing increased appreciation for the value of customer data and is leading the way for many companies to begin implementing DDM strategies.

With such high confidence, data-driven marketers seem to be meeting their customer-centric resolutions so far. Will you make a resolution now to increase your marketing ROI for the rest of the year?  

  Stephanie Miller is VP of member relations and chief listening officer at the Direct Marketing Association. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences.  A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue.
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