2018 Direct Response Marketing Trends: The Best of the Best

This isn’t just another “trends to watch” list. We’ve scoured the direct response marketing headlines and assessed the “2018 trends” lists. Combining the trend lists and what we are observing in our daily efforts, we’re going to share what we believe are the trends to watch: the top 5 response-generating practices that we believe are going to make the most impact on in the year ahead.

1. Optimizing Integrated Marketing Strategies
The “integrated marketing” message is already out there. It’s safe to say that most marketers understand why it’s important to communicate with consistency across traditional and digital channels. And they’re out there doing it—that is, sharing an offer over email, direct mail, social media, and/or mobile, maximizing the chance that a customer will take action at the right time and the right place.

What’s going to happen in the year ahead is that more sophisticated campaign analytics and testing are going enable the optimization of the channels and process. High-performing marketing departments who are leveraging the various marketing channels to reach and connect with customers are going to
make even better use of their data.

They’re going to experiment with channel-specific messaging of offers, and zero in on how consumers like to engage with their brand while they’re online reading emails, at home perusing postal mail, and scrolling through social media feeds. Their insights will result in integrated campaigns that take into account the customer’s stage in the buyer journey, that drive customers toward the most effective response mechanism, and that “meet customers where they’re at” with more precision than ever before.

For more on applying testing and analytics to direct response marketing, don’t miss:

2. Expanding Participation in the Social Media Evolution
In 2018, companies are going to do more than post relevant content to their social media pages. We can assume that most companies have a page or profile and are making (at least) rudimentary efforts to promote “follows” and “likes,” if not actual engagement. Now, it’s time to take things a step further.

What we’re collectively learning is that our customers, followers, and fans have very specific ways they want to interact with brands—and often, it’s other customers they actually want to interact with. We discussed this at length in 6 Guidelines for Running a Social Media Group for Your Business. It’s often not “enough” to simply post a status or share something newsworthy; marketers want to encourage conversation and meaningful, personal connections.

At the same time, we’re learning that customers who follow you on social media aren’t always looking out for “buy now” offers—they’re not necessarily in that mindset while scrolling their crowded social feeds. That means direct marketers will aim to expand their menu of offers to engage customers in different stages in the sales funnel. That might mean offering content that helps a customer use their product or service better or that compares their solution to the alternatives.

Read more into using social media to support your direct response marketing efforts:

3. Falling in Love (Again) with Direct Mail
Digital media gets so much attention these days. It’s easy to think that direct mail no longer the “darling” of direct response marketing. But for many marketers, it’s still tops. The thing is, direct mail is remarkably effective—it tends to deliver response and conversion rates that marketers can brag about.

But direct mail has more opportunity than ever to shine. That’s because there’s less mail in people’s mailboxes fighting for customers’ attention.

The United States Postal Service handled over just over 150 billion pieces in 2016—down from 212 billion pieces in 2007. If your company sends something through the mail, doesn’t that mean your company’s offer has a better chance of getting noticed?

And to address the popularity of digital media, we’ll suggest there’s, even more, value-added opportunity for direct mail in the year ahead. The traditional and digital channels can be used side-by-side to significantly boost campaign response. We explored this in Direct Mail and Email: Direct Response Marketing’s Power Couple, and we believe more companies will begin using direct mail again—or for the first time—to get in front of customers with highly deliverable and response-friendly campaigns.

Reignite your love for direct mail and read 6 Most Effective and Time-Honored Direct Mail Creative Techniques.

4. Personalizing the Customer Experience
Both personalization and the customer experience are worthy of their own “Best of” lists—these are hot topics across the marketing spectrum. Technology is enabling marketers to do incredible things with data; at the same time, customers’ preferences are changing and their expectations more demanding. And it’s all swirling together in the delivery of highly personalized consumer experiences that drive engagement and sales like never before.

We’ve referenced to the customer journey and sales funnel already—and both concepts get to the heart of the changes we’re seeing in direct response marketing. We get into this in detail in Who, Me? 3 Best Practices for Direct Marketing Personalization.

5. Working with Experts
In many ways, the marketing universe is getting more complicated. It’s ironic—because our aim is to make the customer’s experience easier and more streamlined. But to meet our customers’ expectations and drive action—action that leads to conversions—we have to make sense of more data and apply best practices intelligently across a system encompassing traditional and digital media.

And there’s nothing particularly easy about that. But working with a team of professionals to help you assess your needs, identify opportunities, and make the most of your resources (marketing data, budgets, etc.) is a surefire way to see better results in 2018 and beyond.

Contact us to learn more about reaching your goals in the new year.