This is part seven of a ten-part series of Direct Marketing trends for 2013. To read the original article with all ten trends, click here.

Over the past ten years, we have seen an influx of technologies that have created entirely new channels for customers and businesses to interact on. As standalone mediums, many of these channels are quite effective in getting the right message to a consumer at the right time. However, as the channels begin to overlap, the messaging must converge between each channel to convey a consistent theme, and be appropriate for each channel at the same time.

Think of a Venn diagram, where a cell phone can now serve as a computer and web browser, a mobile device serves as a video-recorder and email server, and direct mail pieces contain digital components (whether accessed by a computing device, or whether embedded directly on the piece). The overlap in channels is becoming a defining element of the channels themselves, and how to adjust marketing to fit this merge in devices is the major challenge we face heading into 2013.

Moving forward, successful marketers will craft campaigns that are not only multichannel, but that are inter and intra-channel. Stickier relationships are formed in marketing campaigns that seamlessly integrate email with social media, direct mail with web, and so on.  Where marketers do business with customers is now up to the customers. Marketers that refuse to or cannot reach customers on their preferred channels will not succeed. Additionally, once a conversation is started on a channel of choice, the framework must be in place to continue the conversation as it moves with the customer.

Mobile and SMS campaigns will continue to grow in importance, and the data gathered from text interactions provides the data to craft messaging on other channels. Marketing automation becomes a must in the transitions between channels and within devices. Identifying, planning and allowing touchpoints to trigger responses based on activity will allow messaging to flow from channel to channel and make marketing messaging convenient to the consumer, as well as consistent.

It all starts with developing the messaging for the touchpoints and using a marketing platform that continues the conversation as a number of variables are triggered. As devices become more and more sophisticated, and video and QR applications become more native to devices, the conversation started with direct marketing can continue on a variety of platforms within a singular device: one that, often, is with the customer at all times. We are entering an era where the discussion moves with the customer, and any break in the communications chain can lead to the end of the discussion.

Trend 8: Digital Couponing Sways Consumer Decisions