Commentary & Analysis
Trends to Watch in 2015: Data Analytics and Micro-Targeting
To thrive in today’s environment, service providers must connect strategy, capabilities, technology, and specific initiatives. Print and marketing service providers who are willing to embrace change can drive profitable business growth. This article is the first in a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
By Barb Pellow
Published: January 22, 2015
In the near future, success in the printing industry will depend on the ability to adapt and embrace change. Customer demands will escalate, and the speed of disruption and innovation will accelerate. To thrive in this environment, service providers of all sizes will need to respond quickly to threats and opportunities with innovations of their own. This requires an understanding of how to connect strategy, capabilities, technology, and specific initiatives, guided by the insights provided by marketing trends and data. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be exploring the trends worth watching in this industry. Print and marketing service providers who are willing to embrace change can leverage their knowledge of these trends to help drive profitable business growth.
During 2015, success for service providers will be linked to helping marketers with their cross-channel targeted marketing initiatives.
Follow the Money: Marketing Budgets on the Move
Marketing investments will continue to accelerate in 2015. Although marketers received a healthy portion of their companies' budgets in 2014, many will likely receive an even heartier serving in 2015. According to the Gartner report entitled CMO Spend 2015: Eye on the Buyer, companies spent an average of 10.2% of their annual revenue on marketing activities in 2014. Half of the companies surveyed expect to increase this spend in 2015, reporting an average budget boost of 10.4%. In fact, market leaders that are currently outpacing their competitors plan to increase their 2015 marketing spend by 13.6%.
During 2015, success for service providers will be linked to helping marketers with their cross-channel targeted marketing initiatives. Service providers will need to address a number of key trends in marketing spend. A major focus area will be the increased demand for improved data analytics and micro-targeting.
Organizations have more data than ever before, but they need help analyzing, segmenting, and crafting their messages to ensure that relevant content can reach the right target at the right time.
Relevance Reigns through Analytics and Micro-Targeting
Data capture and analytics are no longer optional marketing tactics. Marketers are seeking business partners that can convert information into action through effective and personalized communications. Marketing executives are looking for ways to gain insight into the buyer’s journey. Organizations have more data than ever before, but they need help analyzing, segmenting, and crafting their messages to ensure that relevant content can reach the right target at the right time. Businesses that use a scientific approach in communicating with customers will make fewer mistakes and achieve greater profitability. According to an InfoGraphic published by Formstack (www.formstack.com/infographics/personalized-marketing) in January 2015, organizations that effectively use personalized marketing typically see a 19% bump in sales. For print service providers, investing in data skills or finding the right partners is critical to ensuring that data-related services become an integral part of the offering.
When marketers think about micro-targeting, they want to draw from data and analytics to better understand their target audience—and respond with targeted messaging and content that is personalized to their specific needs at that time. Ultimately, it’s about improving the client journey through more targeted and relevant 1-to-1 interactions.
Today’s marketers want a much more individualized approach to content and building relationships. 2015 will see a push for more comprehensive and meaningful communications, resulting in more micro-targeted marketing activities with an eye on increased relevancy and effectiveness.
Print Can Cut Through the Clutter
While traditional tactics haven’t been completely ignored over the last decade, they haven’t necessarily been the focus of conversation. Marketers were instead focusing on newer, trendier digital tactics and channels. In 2015, traditional media types (e.g., print) will make something of a comeback, particularly in the B2B space. In today’s era of shrinking attention spans, e-mail deliverability challenges, and digital overload, marketers are finding that leveraging print in the right way can actually help engage audiences and differentiate a business.
In an article entitled B2B Marketing Trends: 2015, Tim Asimos (Director of Digital Innovation at circle S studio) stated, “With everyone using digital channels and significantly fewer using print, print can actually serve as a way to stand out. The key will be finding unique and different ways to leverage print—it can’t just be the same old tri-fold brochures and sell sheets from the past. While many think about content marketing from a digital perspective, print can actually provide a fantastic medium for longer-form content such as magazines and guides, plus it gives your audience something tangible to hold on to.”
In today’s era of shrinking attention spans, e-mail deliverability challenges, and digital overload, marketers are finding that leveraging print in the right way can actually help engage audiences and differentiate a business.
Market Leaders are Making the Move
Several firms have recently embarked on expanding their data skills by adding new staff members, forming partnerships, or partaking in mergers/acquisitions. At the beginning of 2014, SG360º (Chicago, IL) launched a data and analysis service called EmpiricalInsights. This service is supported through a partnership with iNovum, a company that was founded by Harvard-educated author and research scientist Dr. Howard Moskowitz. EmpiricalInsights enables clients to identify the unique individual preferences (i.e., likes and dislikes) of their customers by applying a model developed by Moskowitz that combines psychology, marketing, and mathematics. With this service, SG360º customers can achieve significant improvements in sales, profitability, and client loyalty.
To address marketers’ needs, GLS Companies (Minneapolis, MN) acquired Next Communications (Minnetonka, MN) in early 2013 to strengthen its integrated multi-channel marketing capabilities. Founded in 1991, Next Communications is a marketing communications firm that serves local, national, and international clients. According to Jayme Wisely, GLS President and COO, “The acquisition of Next Communications means that GLS can now offer significantly enhanced strategic marketing services to customers, including digital and Web solutions. The additional capabilities of Next Communications help us to deliver our strategic evolution toward multi-channel engagement, one-to-one messaging, and mass customization—including on demand, digital, and database-driven solutions for our customers.”
Next Communications was rebranded as Next in 2014, and the company has incorporated a “powered by GLS” tagline. Next has a broad portfolio of services that delivers on the promise of full-service marketing, ranging from strategy to public relations to data analytics and predictive modeling. Customers’ print, mailing, and fulfillment components can be handled by GLS. This integrated offering is called “Precision Marketing.”
For service providers seeking double-digit growth, the ability to understand and deliver data-driven marketing solutions has never been more important.
What’s Your Plan?
With 2015 budgets on the rise, marketers are more focused on consumer engagement than ever before. Effective engagement can keep products and services top-of-mind, build relationships, and capture and retain customers. The key is developing communications that are highly personalized for each recipient. Consumers' individual needs and preferences must be addressed to spark connections and influence behaviors. In the coming year, service providers will need to partner, acquire, or organically grow to deliver the personalized communications that marketers want. For service providers seeking double-digit growth, the ability to understand and deliver data-driven marketing solutions has never been more important.