By Dale Filhaber

The year 2017 will be an exciting year for marketers, particularly in terms of enhanced digital skills. As new trends, technology and customer behaviors emerge, the key to success will be in continually learning and staying up-to-date. Dealers need to experiment with new tools, tactics and marketing campaign ideas and continue to monitor each project so they can discover where their greatest return on investment can be made.

Diversifying the marketing mix
2017 will be a year of blended media. This is where the old adage “different strokes for different folks” really holds true. Different people respond differently to different marketing channels. Even though we are all focused on digital, it’s important to realize that over 22 percent of computer users now use ad blockers. That means that marketers need to rethink their ad spending on non-digital forms of advertising, like direct mail, if they really want to get a bang for their buck.

Rapid retail
We are seeing a tremendous effect of rapid retail and the ‘want-it-now’ mentality. As ecommerce companies, including Amazon, start delivering at ever faster rates (Amazon Prime Now service providing city dwellers with what they want within the hour, seven days a week), this will only increase expectations from consumers. Dealers with an ecommerce site need to be prepared.

The time spent on mobile now consists of over two-thirds of digital media time, compared to just one third for desktop. Website speed is a critical area that marketers need to get right, particularly as it is all too easy to bloat a site with unoptimized images, code and excessive JavaScript tags. Google has said it will penalize marketers who are directing traffic to a slow-moving mobile site, so dealers really need to pay attention to the loading speed of their websites.

We are seeing a resurgence of print options for direct mail. Marketers can stand out from the crowd with unique shapes, sizes and virtual QR codes that take readers to a new reality. Millennials continue to be a surprisingly strong mail-market segment with seniors relying heavily on the channel for information and offers. Bottom line with print: if it’s great, people will read it and save it.

Direct mail
According to 2017 Media Usage Survey results, direct mail is not only holding steady, but it’s growing. Nearly one third (31 percent) of marketers responding to the survey are increasing their use of direct mail this year and 33 percent are keeping it the same. Only nine percent are decreasing their use of direct mail. Dealers definitely need to keep direct mail on their horizon and commit to doing it right.

Social influencers
In the world of social media, some humans matter more than others—we call them influencers. When it comes to social media, marketers are increasingly accepting the new world where they have to pay to play and find recognizable talent to appear in their newsfeeds, blog posts and ads (sure, I’d like Brad Pitt to appear in my posts, too!) but because this is becoming a high cost, marketers are looking for new solutions. Experiment with a company spokesperson, anime or animal who can become your influencer.

Facebook/Instagram marketing
This is way different than social media. This is about paying for ads and sponsored posts that show up directly on people’s newsfeeds. Since 2017 is all about blended media, the key here is to match direct mail to Facebook ads with customized match programs that let dealers market to fine-tuned audiences. The more times a consumer sees an ad and the more channels they see it through, the better the branding and the higher the response.

While we all want to showcase our companies across every marketing channel, from a cost perspective, it’s just not feasible. Dealers need to test their message in the different marketing channels to find the special formula that’s right for them.

About the author
Dale ‘Data Dale’ Filhaber, Listologist Supreme, Author and Direct Marketing Commentator, is President of Dataman Group, a direct marketing company based in Boca Raton, FL. Data Dale has been working with water quality dealers for over 30 years and is a featured speaker for the WQA on marketing and lead generation. Her latest book, Lead Generation for Water Quality Dealers, was launched at this year’s WQA Conference & Exhibition.

About the company
Dataman Group was founded in 1981 and has provided thousands of clients across the country with accurate, high-quality, direct-mail and telemarketing lists. Dataman Group specializes in lists of new homeowners, parents of new babies, homeowners, modeled credit-score lists, families with children, mortgage data, as well as lifestyle, donor and compiled lists.


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