NCDM: Database marketers need to innovate, explore multichannel options

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Orlando, Fla.—Database marketers face mixed prospects moving into 2009, with some of the industry somewhat “recession-proof” (with key exceptions), but at the same time lagging in exploring emerging opportunities in a variety of media.

Those conclusions were delivered Monday by a keynote panel of service providers and agencies at the National Center for Database Marketing (NCDM) conference here.

“Yes, database marketers within the retail and financial services industries have taken a big hit; but we have some other clients who have seen dramatic increases in budgets,” said David Williams, president-CEO of database marketing agency Merkle. “They feel fundamentally that now is the time to increase share. Two of our clients have had record Octobers.”

Nevertheless, database marketing budgets that focus on innovation have been cut, Williams conceded.

“The challenge we face is that database marketing isn’t really about direct marketing,” Williams said. He added that it can, and should, inform other forms of customer outreach that go beyond direct mail and e-mail.

Tim Suther, senior VP at marketing services company Acxiom, agreed, stressing the need for database marketers to extend their skills into digital marketing.

“Of all media, 42% is now consumed online,” Suther said, “but only 11% of database marketers’ budgets is online. Partly that’s due to how inexpensive online marketing is but also because we need to catch up.”

Suther stressed that database marketers must apply direct mail principles to the online world.

“For example, database marketing works great for e-mail and opt-in mobile, and it has the potential to impact campaigns on interactive TV and high-definition radio,” Suther said. “The principle is that the underlying disciplines and skills that make database marketing work can be applied to all forms of media, gravitating to direct response across a wide variety of channels.”

Other panelists included Dave Frankland, senior database analyst with Forrester Research, who served as panel moderator, and Michael Iaccarino, president-CEO of Epsilon.

—Christopher Hosford

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