Every year, we spend a lot of time analyzing DMA statistics and other industry data. The biggest trend I see that has been picking up momentum for quite some time now, is more integrated communication across all channels. By that, I mean that all channels are communicating the same message (visually and same offer to the same person). The timing of the communication is critical as well, and should be tested in conjunction with all other channels.

For instance, if someone receives a mail piece, followed up by an email 2 days after receipt of mail, does it get a better response rate than someone who receives an email 2 days before the mail arrives? If a person opts in to text messaging, would mobile display ads and social media advertisement deployed immediately thereafter increase response? This can be tested ad nauseam but there are now ways to systematically test multiple combinations and arrive at the best combination for your particular set of customers.

Direct marketing must be personalized and permission-driven. Here’s a good quote from Forbes –“There is a difference between data-driven marketing and intrusive marketing.” Content-driven marketing is pull-driven in its essence, and is key for engaging new customers, rather than re-skinning traditional push marketing using new channels. Personalization through direct marketing efforts (even personalized video content!) will continue to be a trend in 2016, and will gain in sophistication, as marketers can utilize user-submitted info to better inform creative decisions, communications cadence and offers. Additionally, advances in predictive modeling algorithms and visualization will allow marketers to define customer personas at a level not before achievable, and when paired with variable print and data-driven digital marketing, will allow true 1-to-1 personalization at all touchpoints.

In the retail industry, in particular, we are seeing great success with direct response tactics paired with digital communications: postcards with emails, landing pages with re-targeting, etc. What will evolve in 2016 is the reporting and sophistication of attribution across these channels. Campaigns that have numerous trigger sources can be looked at using percentage lift by channel, and attribution for numerous channels for a single conversion. This technology exists today, but is severely underutilized, and will be more accessible and implemented in 2016.