A Recap of DMA Annual 2013
The focus of this year's Direct Marketing Association Annual Conference & Exhibitionwas reflected in its title, The Global Event for Data-Driven Marketers. That focus on data-driven marketing was evident throughout the show. The seminars were packed and a majority of the talks had a focus on and link to how direct marketers manage and use vast streams of multichannel data. Keynote speaker Nate Silver, who rose to fame with his incredibly precise predictions of the 2012 presidential election, reflected on the reliance that marketers have on data and the value of knowing how to use and interpret data correctly.
What were some practical takeaways from all these discussions on data-driven marketing? Stephen Yu of Infogroup made the following points in his session, Data Refinement: The Missing Link Between Data Collection and Decisions:
- Don't just "rinse and repeat" your annual marketing and circulation plans to repeat what you did last year. Look to your data to find ways to change your plans and improve results.
- You need to have an understanding of what data is and isn't important in order to be able to specify and build your database cost effectively. Knowing what data you don't need is extremely important.
- Know what data can change your business and what data is critical to running your business.
- "Find something interesting," meaning you need to search for those key elements of data that can give fresh insights into your business and your customers. Data should drive you to ways to change your business, not just manage around the edges.
Session after session stressed the value of having a robust relational database as the tool to manage your data.
What was the chatter heard around the show? Here are some points to consider:
- Quad/Graphic's Andy Bear was demonstrating how the printer imbeds videos into catalog pages so that readers can download videos by scanning individual products with their phones.
- Jim Calhoun of Web Decisions and Jamie Strom of Paradysz both talked convincingly about using merge/purge as a more robust tool to drive improved results. Both companies are combining the power of relational databases into their merges to make merges and databases into powerful tools.
- Abacus/Epsilon, Datalogix, I-Behavior and Wiland Direct, the traditional cooperative databases, all have new initiatives for 2014, ranging from proven prospecting digital ad programs from Datalogix and Abacus/Epsilon to I-Behavior's profitable prospecting emails to Wiland's continued growth providing big new list universes.
- Mailers, catalogers, printers and the folks in the aisles at the show were generally bullish on the upcoming holiday season. The dark cloud of the government shutdown and a potential default faded as the show wrapped up.
- There was concern expressed about the short Christmas selling season, with so few selling days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Marketers believe the demand will be there, but that the short season will tax their operational capacity to fulfill the holiday demand.
- Mailers acknowledged that American consumers have come to expect promotional offers, and that the days of selling at full retail price to today's savvy consumers were over.
The sessions were packed and attendees flocked to any that focused on data-driven marketing. My hat is off to the DMA for such a rewarding conference.