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The Next Wave of Cross-Media Communications: A Perfect Storm

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The recent recession, technological advances and the rapid cultural shift to real-time communications have created the perfect situation for change in marketing strategies, priorities and services. Smartphones are enabling “always-on” consumers and knowledge workers to consume more electronic media and to proactively participate in social media with photos, videos and real-time messaging. The wholesale shift in how consumers and knowledge workers communicate and respond to various offers has prompted marketers and advertisers to react by delivering more integrated campaigns across a variety of different media—including Web, mobile, social and print channels.

Figure: U.S. Mobile Phone Penetration, 1981-2009

InfoTrends chart
How will this shift affect the way that consumers and knowledge workers expect to be communicated with, and how will it affect marketers, publishers and service providers? The dominoes have been set in motion, and marketers are hustling to respond to the changing needs of customers with personalized offers that address where, when and how they want to be reached. For example, marketers at Ralf Lauren are using mobile bar codes, or quick response codes (QR codes), on printed materials to automatically link consumers to a personalized Web landing page after they take a picture of the QR code with their mobile phones.

Marketing and advertising professionals are under heavy scrutiny as a result of the economic downturn, and they must find a way to meet these shifting communications needs while also measuring the results of these new integrated cross-media campaigns. Solutions from companies like EasyPurl and MindFire provide the capability to develop personalized URLs/Web landing pages and e-mail blasts, as well as reports on response activities. These next-generation cross-media solutions provide a marketing analytics dashboard that enables marketers to track and analyze direct marketing campaigns to an individual across multiple data points. Marketers now have the ability to deploy a cross-media campaign and discover campaign results in real-time and in an easy-to-use dashboard experience.

A few savvy service providers have anticipated this shift in communications preferences and are pursuing technology solutions that can serve an expanded marketing value chain. DemandForce provides a Web-based marketing service for small businesses (doctors, dentists, real estate agents, etc.) to deliver e-mail, print and Web campaigns to clients and prospects to retain, acquire and grow customers. Tukaiz is a next-generation marketing service provider that combines print and Internet solutions to build and deliver integrated marketing campaigns.

Service providers are adding specific capabilities surrounding data analytics and more flexible composition systems that can be used to deploy an integrated campaign to a variety of cross-media channels.

A recent InfoTrends study of 217 marketers revealed that communications combining targeted print, e-mail and Web landing page channels can deliver a 35% higher response rate than print-only campaigns. Our research also shows that these integrated media campaigns (print and electronic) also have higher response rates than e-mail-only campaigns.

More than ever, marketing executives need to reach the right person with the right message through the right channels. InfoTrends believes that the recent recession, technological advances, and changes in consumer and knowledge worker behavior are driving demand for targeted and interactive cross-media communications. We also expect this shift to accelerate as marketers more effectively measure and analyze their campaign results related to targeting, messaging and channels. Marketers and service providers must redesign their workflows to deliver communications across all key channels with minimal friction, while investing more in data analytics to optimize their interactive marketing programs.

InteractFor more information on cross-media communications, InfoTrends recommends joining others interested in cross-media direct marketing communications at the InterACT! Event in Chicago (August 10-11, 2010).

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