November 20, 2012 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today released its Quarterly Business Review (QBR) for the third quarter of 2012. DMA partnered with management consulting firm Winterberry Group on the report.

Despite ongoing uncertainty about the fate of the economy and its potential impact on broader business opportunities, a vast majority of respondents to the third quarter 2012 Quarterly Business Review survey said they are confident about the practice of direct and digital marketing (DDM) and its prospects for future growth.                    

“Increasingly, marketers are expressing confidence in the prospects of direct and digital marketing, with a majority of respondents expecting their revenue to increase during the fourth quarter,” said Linda A. Woolley, DMA’s acting president and CEO. “Notably this quarter, more marketers are reporting that the availability of data and the general demand for DDM media are having a positive impact on their organizations’ DDM activity.”

A full three-quarters of surveyed US marketers and marketing service providers said they were bullish about the growth prospects for DDM — with a plurality (47.1 percent) saying they “strongly agree” that the practice of direct and digital driven marketing is well positioned to grow in the future. This represents a slight increase from last quarter, when 72 percent of respondents voiced similar confidence.

On an index basis, respondents echoed a similarly modest improvement in confidence from the second quarter. The DMA/Winterberry Group panel of marketers and service providers reported a composite confidence index of 3.91 in the third quarter (on a 1-to-5 scale), up from 3.85 in the preceding period.
 
In describing the opportunities they see emerging to define the practice of DDM, respondents were near-universal in their commentary on the importance of data and technology-driven insights in enabling more impactful customer interactions. Some said, for example: 
  • “The multimedia approach is giving us the data on how our prospects, leads and clients prefer to communicate… [guiding us in] how to present our information moving forward”
 
  • “The ability to use better data for online targeting” has been a boon; and

  • “Customers are now more aware of DDM and realize they need to consider how best to use new technology” to deliver on their business goals.”

 

Other key third-quarter findings include:
  • For the second straight quarter, the only DDM channels that saw increased investment were those in the digital space — further reinforcing the secular shift in economic influence toward both emerging and established online media

  • The percent of DDM budgets allocated to customer acquisition efforts in Q3 was 58.8 percent, very near to the 60 percent benchmark that generally indicates periods of robust economic expansion (and in line with budgetary allocations that have been reported each quarter since Q3 of 2011); and

 

  • Changes to DDM-related staffing levels have been less volatile — holding steady at a very modest growth rate, which survey respondents predict is likely to continue through Q4.
     


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