Whoever knows their customers better wins Simon Sitek’s keynote for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference, &THEN day two kicked off the day by presenting a challenge to the marketing industry, encouraging members to focus on being the best versions of themselves, rather than focus on defeating competition. While Sitek covered a lot of well-trodden territory – millennials, mobile devices inhibiting inter-personal communication – he framed the issues as hurdles both in management and marketing that can be easily overcome. The primary solution he offered was having empathy, whether for members of your team or the audience you are hoping to reach, will ultimately lead to success. Session Highlights Marketing technologist Scott Brinker applied software mentality to marketing strategy: being agile, innovating, and understanding scalability. Balancing the tech mentality, which encourages failure in order to learn and improve, within marketing is difficult, as there is no real room for experimentation or failure in marketing. PebblePost introduced their “Programmatic Direct Mail” service, which they framed as the antithesis to online display ads because “nobody tapes a banner ad to the fridge.” Taking the digital mentality to offline channels, PebblePost’s Lewis Gerch put it succinctly that instead of treating it as a standard direct mail piece, “you are shooting for relevancy in the mailbox and if you can win that battle, [your disengaged customers] are coming back.” Coloplast highlighted the benefits of detailed customer research, aggregating search engine statistics to find out where gaps are in the information offered to customers, as well as what kind of questions the customers are asking. The primary takeaway was, what you may think is important for the consumer to know about your product, may not align with what they think. Thoryn Stephens, CDO at American Apparel, gave a roadmap to establishing customer centricity. Stephens demonstrated the importance of customers getting the right message, in the right channel, at the right time. A panel on email efficiency stressed the importance of consistency in email messaging in order to maintain a recognizable brand identity. The panel also noted the importance of segmentation, and recommended any reactivation campaign should include an incentive in order to drive interest from a dormant or inactive customer. What we think A consensus path toward a cohesive omni-channel strategy has emerged. A running theme in many sessions was reconciling first party data with that of both online channels and partners into an operational CRM in order to establish a foundation from which to build customer segmentation profiles, and target from there. Sessions from customer centricity, to Programmatic 101 and streamlining the offline and online customer experience, have all emphasized building a CRM is an essential first step. The customer experience is paramount. While this is not a new idea, emphasis was placed on the significant increase in available customer data, as well as the proliferation of channels and touchpoints through which customers can engage with brands. These advancements have given marketers a wealth of tools to enhance the customer experience, while simultaneously raising consumer expectations on how brands will do just that. Claude Lawrence is a Senior Research Analyst with Comperemedia. His areas of focus include Credit Cards, Unsecured Lending and Banking. Eric Fahey is a Research Manager at Mintel Comperemedia, where he specializes in email and digital marketing, consumer trends, and competitive intelligence. You might also be interested in: DMA &THEN Day 1: Connecting with consumers in a digital world Financial Services Marketing Trends 2016: How’d we do?