As another year closes out, we take a little time to reflect on what has transpired in our industry and what we can learn from it in order to improve in the new year. The infographic below shows a snapshot of Strategic America’s 2017 direct marketing and analytics efforts.

Direct Marketing and Analytics Infographic

U.S. companies spent $10 billion in 2017 on third-party audience data for marketing efforts and slightly more on solutions to support its activation. Here at Strategic America we have experienced this growth as well, targeting and tracking consumers and marketing efforts online and offline.

In 2017, we grew the breadth and depth of our work. Some of the tests that we executed and learned from include:

  1. Analyzing the effects of financing offers on both middle class and affluent consumers. We discovered that wealthier consumers are just as likely, and often more likely, to take advantage of financing offers. Financing helped increase the size of the purchase in both cases; benefiting those who could pay out-of-pocket and keep their money in the bank.
  2. Format testing letters and postcards across age groups. Last year saw a big shift away from postcard formats towards letters. While the letter has always been king of direct mail, postcards have had their place with younger demographics. In 2017, format tests brought letters to parity and sometimes led depending on geography.

Geographical variances hold strong and are a key consideration in how we go to market. Each geography has its unique culture, demographics, psychographics and other nuances that need to be analyzed and put into play on each marketing plan. The 87 customer databases that we profiled last year helped us to determine the right channels and messaging to motivate that consumer group along with demographics, interest and more.

Email marketing tests that wowed were those with video or educational content over those with short expiration dates. The short-sale success of the past—“Act now or lose out”—did not motivate consumers to action as successfully in 2017 as it has worked in past years.

2017 was the year we started to dive into Watson Artificial Intelligence and discovered that some insights come easy, and others take additional work and organization for AI learning.

Recognizing the stages of a customer journey and understanding how each channel and message effects results is a key component of successful planning.  Direct marketing is a small part of the integrated marketing plan that makes for success. So a special thank you to my colleagues in digital, social, traditional media and public relations. The result of our omnichannel efforts thrive as we move the response and sales needle for our clients.

Looking forward to applying new insights to 2018!