The latest essential truth is that consumers demand – and respond to – marketing message relevance. The disconnect between consumer demand for relevance and the ability of the marketer to supply it has resulted in missed opportunities and lost revenue for countless businesses. Historically, marketers have struggled to quantify the real return on investment a relevance-centered approach offers, which is precisely why the emerging philosophy of Direct Digital Marketing is so important.
The Definition of Direct Digital Marketing
Direct Digital Marketing is comprised of three basic message delivery channels: email, the Web, and the mobile phone. Addressability is the common link that ties these channels together. Like direct marketing uses the postal address, every online consumer has an email address (obviously, the email channel), a browser cookie (the Web channel), and/or a mobile phone number (obviously, the mobile channel). Addressability is the elemental concept that fuels and measures Direct Digital Marketing success.
Direct Digital Marketing success is defined differently by its two primary audiences, the consumer and the marketer. If the consumer shares their three digital addresses with the marketer, it is reasonable for the consumer to expect any communication through these channels to be relevant to them. The savvier the consumer is online, the higher the expectation for relevance – and the higher the frustration with a message that is not relevant. For the direct digital marketer, message relevance is more than just securing the opt-in and assuming the consumer wants to hear what they have to say. It is a dedication to understanding the consumer and applying that ever-changing knowledge to enhance the personal experience with the brand – and ultimately to convince them to buy.
The effectiveness of a relevant approach to marketing communications through addressable digital channels is statistically proven. Therefore, it seems practical to assume that Direct Digital Marketing has been adopted en masse; however, some basic barriers to adoption persist. The biggest challenge direct digital marketers must overcome is the digital marketing ecosystem. The email, Web, and mobile channels have the addresses necessary to deliver direct, truly relevant, digital marketing communications. However, message delivery historically comes from disparate systems that draw on disparate marketing databases.
The modern digital marketer likely has a database to contain customer information gathered off-line, a different database to contain CRM data or purchase history data, and yet another database to capture and store the website behavioral data of their customers and prospects – and that example only covers the database ecosystem. The digital marketing channel ecosystem is a mirror image of its database counterpart, with one software platform needed to execute email marketing, another to host and create compelling offers on landing pages and the website, and yet another to conduct any mobile campaigns (for those adventurous enough to dip their toes in this promising water).
The Tools to Execute Direct Digital Marketing
It may sound challenging, but being good at Direct Digital Marketing is possible. The first requirement is having a single database that is capable of storing all of the data necessary to execute a Direct Digital Marketing campaign. For example, bringing email data, website data, mobile data, and purchase history data together into one repository unlocks useful, previously unattainable segments. Additionally, new opportunities for better personalization and relevance become easy.
The second requirement for is the ability to easily leverage that motley collection of data by sending a marketing communication with a targeted call-to-action. The centralized database is only a benefit if it can be easily used to send relevant information and offers to a customer or prospect through any of the primary Direct Digital Marketing channels.
The third requirement for good Direct Digital Marketing is having all communications tested and optimized. Good testing and optimization tools help reinforce the relevance of the message. Gathering important preference information from a previous online purchase, like an effective email subject line or a “buy now” button color, helps bring the relevance down to a very personal level.
The concept of Direct Digital Marketing is just starting to gain momentum.
The vendor landscape will eventually become crowded with companies that each have different perspectives and methods of execution. Understanding this fundamental approach – and how it impacts online marketing communications – is essential for marketers to remain relevant with the ever-changing personality of the modern consumer.