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In The News
The Present and Future of Direct Digital Marketing
Direct digital marketing grew in 2009, and market conditions forecast another big year in 2010.

December 18, 2009

Published by 1to1 Media
Written by Josh Gordon

The growth and impact of direct digital marketing had a significant impact across many different industries in 2009. Because good direct digital marketing—relevant marketing communications addressed to individuals through the primary digital channels of email, Web, and mobile—is founded in the smart data management and segmentation afforded by a universal profile management system, industries from cable and broadband to retail to hospitality to restaurants are reaping the benefits of a targeted, personalized approach to digital marketing communications.

What began as the philosophical fusion of direct marketing's addressability and digital marketing's accountability has become a measureable, impactful, and vital marketing strategy.

In 2009 consumers became more mobile than ever before. They're able to access their email, the Web, and text messages all on one device—whether that device is a phone, a smartphone, a netbook, or any type of device that promotes mobility. While smartphones do not yet dominate the marketplace, the rapid development of competition within the consumer technology industry, combined with the increased adoption of the devices by consumers, signals a fundamental shift in how marketers can effectively communicate with consumers. Direct digital marketing was a boon for leading marketers in 2009 and the continued application of its principles in 2010 will be what separates adaptive marketers from laggards.

This year also saw the implementation of successful multichannel direct digital marketing projects that made use of all three of the primary channels in a single campaign. For example, one Fortune 500 company uses a webpage as a customer communications preference center where customers can sign up for a variety of alerts and notifications about product availability. The customers are also given the option of receiving alerts and notifications via text message, email, or both. The more consumers are offered choices, the more they will demand choices. Direct digital marketing facilitates the increased demand of choice while delivering on the promise of relevance.

The foundational marketing objectives of engagement, addressability, and accountability will be largely unchanged from 2009 to 2010. Whether a campaign includes bidirectional text messages between consumer and company, email coupons, or dynamic and relevant content on a webpage—or elements of all three—success hinges on how well marketers can satisfy these foundational marketing objectives.

Several trends will emerge in 2010 as a result of the fragmented way digital marketing has evolved. As each new channel became open for communication with consumers, new software platforms were developed, and existing platforms were "enhanced," to take advantage of the new touchpoint. This natural evolution failed to guard against the inherent inefficiencies of a niche software provider landscape. Marketers are already starting to demand greater efficiency and capability convergence from software providers. For example, many now look for software providers that are able to deliver content through multiple digital channels.

Marketers will have a strong desire to refocus on relevance as the core element to communications in 2010. Study after study shows that consumers take action on relevant communications. Success with targeted and relevant messaging comes from the smart data management and good segmentation strategies that are possible with direct digital marketing.

Onsite targeting technologies will see increased use in 2010 thanks to the resurgence of rules-based content targeting on websites. Algorithm-based content targeting and predictive modeling definitely have a place in the market, but a simpler rules-based approach for onsite targeting is again becoming essential for capturing low-hanging fruit without a deep level of complexity. Marketers will gravitate toward solutions that are easy to implement and have immediate impact. Rules-based onsite targeting fits the bill.

Growth in multichannel campaigns will become even more rapid in 2010 as marketers learn how best to use each direct digital marketing channel to its maximum effectiveness. As the way consumers receive marketing communications becomes more personal—on mobile devices that fit neatly in the palm of their collective hands—the content must also become more relevant and personalized. The whole of 2010 will be a big year for direct digital marketing as it delivers the relevance consumers respond to and supports the marketer's desire for software provider convergence.

About the author: Josh Gordon is editor-in-chief of the direct digital marketing blog The Lunch Pail, and director of marketing at Knotice. Contact him at

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