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Data-driven Marketing Outlook: Spending Up, Innovation Expected

direct-marketing-outlookOne great thing about January is that many businesses reboot to zero, creating new momentum toward innovation and new, strategic initiatives.  Marketing plans and dreams are no different.

Good news!   Another analyst gives a strong outlook for 2015, with growth in marketing spending slightly up (but off a slow start last year), according to Bruce Biegel, Managing Partner of Winterberry Group, the marketing research and strategic consulting firm.  Digital marketing is still leading data-driven marketing spending, particularly in search and programmatic display, but direct mail had a pretty good year in 2014, being integrated into more multi-channel campaigns, Winterberrry reports.

This year could be named the Year of Marketing Integration, although the promise of integration has been around for a long time, so you would not be wrong in expressing skepticism, Biegel said during his annual Outloook presentation at the Direct Marketing Club of NY in January.

The Winterberry assessment is consistent with TopRight perspective based on client and partner work and plans for 2015.   We see leading marketers investing in cross-channel customer insights (which has integration, technology and data implications), automation, digital analytics, programmatic digital reach and content marketing.  Along with that comes new thinking around brand values and social influence.

Driving integration today is the growing amount of data that is used for programmatic, search and social, Biegel said in his presentation.  “Programmatic was big last year.  The programmatic parts of display use a lot more data, not just third party data, but also on exchanges.”  At the same time, social data is more and more integrated with CRM, where we tie data and behavior to a real person.  The big social networks have that data, he said.  “Accuracy in targeting gets performance,” Biegel said, so it’s clear the networks have an interest in getting the match right.

The other big force for integration is the rise of the data service platform (DSP) which has become an extension of the marketing database.  These platforms are being tapped for everything from display advertising and retargeting to social CRM to Internet of Things (IoT) data.  “IoT data is being collected, but it is hard to know what is important, hard to model off things that are actionable from your car or electric meter or refrigerator” Biegel said.  “Those analytic models will come this year and be more sophisticated.”

Data without technology are not helpful, however.  Winterberry also predicts some activity in a trend started in 2014, which is the shift to the marketing cloud – the omnichannel data warehouse that can be accessed by a number of point solutions.  “Marketing campaign management vendors now get that a customer journey map is not linear.  Biegel expects that Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) vendors will focus on building a useful dashboard for marketers to access, track, report and analyze all the various data sets, and make these insights actionable for campaign execution.

In spending trends, Winterberry predicts that traditional media will not grow, but that investment will go to data driven channels like display for social, native advertising and re- targeting display.  They expect growth in social, display and search, with social ID and beacons starting to matter.  “Beacons are about collecting data and acting on that data to re-target or build loyalty profiles.  Money for these may come from other promotional budgets, like reducing the number of advertising signs in-store in favor of more mobile based advertising,” he said.   Biegel was less enthusiastic about social commerce, noting that the effectiveness is still not sorted out.

Clearly there is lots of opportunity for growth in many areas of marketing success, particularly as we align our investments in areas where vendors have incentives to innovate.  Scouring your budget for “past success” might be a good place to start:  Given the advances in technology, will what worked in 2010 or even in 2014 work now in 2015?

The TopRight series on 2015 Trends also offers some perspective on Digital Marketing and IMM.   So could our new tools to help you plan ahead for 2015 – the Digital Assessment and the IMM Report Card. Either takes about 10 minutes to complete.

 Constant innovation in our own marketing approaches is the only thing that lets us Stay #TopRight.

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