Another thing that we’ve seen is the need to “test and learn” not only creative treatments, but data sets, modeling variables, alternative qualification criteria and more. Alongside testing and learning from different selection criteria, 2016 will see an increase in the effectiveness of communicating with people through “preferred” channels.

For instance, I have one major retail client who rolled out a major initiative to communicate through email instead of direct mail for cost benefits. However, the people that opted-in to receive emails and switched to email-only communication had a significant decline in purchase behavior over a 1-year period. They found that just because a person opts-in to email messages, they still respond better if communicated with periodically by direct mail. They also discovered that with email, they could send direct mail less frequently because it was supplemented with email, but they couldn’t discontinue direct mail communication entirely without significant impact on their business.

Similarly, response is greatly impacted when marketers can cross-pollinate all channels, from within the initial touch point. For instance, direct mail should drive prospects and customers to a web page, which should invite them to give their email address. Direct mail, email, and landing pages should invite them to text a keyword to opt-in to text promotions. Social media should incent followers to give email addresses, mailing addresses, etc. to continue building the database of marketable prospects. Emails, texts, direct mail, and display ads should all use the same key words and visual cues to communicate with a single audience. This allows a concise and singular message to be communicated during a campaign period.