1. The Year of SMS, Sort of Could it be? As email marketers, we have heard for years how critical SMS communications would be to brands and consumers. In fact, I recently heard an analyst joke that we just finished the Decade of SMS Marketing. It felt like each year would be the year for marketers to invest heavily in mobile programs, but that investment never seemed to become a reality.
While mobile has become critical for alert and time-sensitive communications, applications for direct marketing have not materialized. While some brands have leveraged mobile in a meaningful way (to capture off-line options to campaigns, for example), few have committed heavily. I think 2010 will be the year of mobile - but not from a traditional direct marketing standpoint. As applications proliferate on mobile devices and further integrate location services, we will see marketers trying to leverage true location marketing.
I think 2010 is the year for early adopters in location-based marketing. If you are not the early adopter type, be sure you are using mobile for critical alerts or offline opt-ins while you wait for location-based case studies to hit the street. Then make sure you have a mobile (iPhone/Android) application ready to go for 2011.
2. Video (Rich Media) and Email. Many of you remember the early days of rich media, plagued with painfully slow connection speeds, uncertain delivery guidelines, email clients that did not render HTML, etc. Rich media was expensive to create and difficult to deliver. With the recent push from GoodMail and others, I think rich media will find its place as a staple in the marketer's arsenal.
3. Socialization of Direct Marketing. Socializing traditional direct marketing programs will remain a growing trend this year. Consumers are more networked than ever before, and their access to information about a brand's products and services has never been more transparent. It is critical that brands embrace word-of-mouth marketing and gain a clear understanding of who influences product purchase decisions and how to engage these "influencers" in a proactive and meaningful way. We will see a number of new campaign management solutions hit the market to address this need.
4. Automation. Even though it seems we are taking the initial steps to economic recovery, (please knock on wood now), businesses are still looking to do more with less. Forrester Research's recently released fourth-quarter 2009 Email Wave report, cited that 20% of marketers surveyed have lost staff in the last year. Call me crazy, but I think many marketers will look to make up for this loss in personnel by outsourcing or automating processes that deploy email communications.
I think 2010 will be a busy year for marketers looking to automate personalized communications. These messages can be triggered by e-commerce systems, CRM applications, Web analytics packages and more. I predict that the most sophisticated email marketers in the U.S. will implement more and more automation throughout this year and into 2011.
5. Lifetime Customer Value. Nope, not this year either. It continues to amaze me that so few organizations can create a meaningful metric around lifetime customer value. While a number of formulas exist to calculate this most elusive of metrics, I am not confident that the industry at large will figure this one out anytime soon. Especially since the rise of social media has introduced the concept of "referral value," which complicates the calculation of lifetime customer value even more.
There you have it: my predictions for 2010. Please use the comments section to agree, disagree or voice your own predictions, and we'll see who's right in a year.