CHICAGO—The acronym DMA doesn't stand for Data-Driven Marketing Association just yet, but the focus at this year's annual convention for the Direct Marketing Association is about data—and more data. This new input has created changes in the industry, but many organizations and individuals are reluctant to do the reorganizing and silo-wrecking required in order to fully embrace integrated strategies. The programming this year has focused on identifying these internal and external roadblocks and showcasing companies that have found a way around them.
During his keynote speech here today, Travelocity founder and Kayak board member Terry Jones said the best ideas come from the bottom up, but often get stuck in middle management, where people are incentivized to keep the status quo. Before founding Travelocity, he worked for American Airlines when Sabre technology was revolutionizing the industry. He recalled a time he spent $1 million on a failed initiative, but his boss didn't fire him. Instead, he asked him what he learned. Jones encouraged conference attendees to fail fast and learn from their mistakes quickly. Direct marketers did A/B testing far before it was a standard in e-commerce, he explained, so testing concepts before rolling them out fully should be something they continue to embrace.
Many companies have solutions that encourage more interactivity, but implementing those may bring departments together that hadn't planned on working together. During a talk titled "Bridging the Gap Between Digital and Relationship Marketing," Selligent Vice President of Product Marketing Jan Teerlinck polled the audience, asking how many had separate online and CRM departments. Over half did. Teerlinck discussed Selligent's solution, which can turn things like Web analytics into something more CRM-focused: visitor analytics. By turning site visitors into identified users, it's easier to track engagement and measure campaign efficacy. Since the tool brings together different groups, it can pose problems for different silos that haven't worked together in the past. Customers don't see silos, he explained, and neither should organizations.
The construction industry isn't known for being particularly tech-savvy, but the panel "How Top Brands Are Going Social for Lead Generation" featured representatives from two construction companies and one water delivery company with an aging client base. They all turned to social to find new customers and increase the number of touch points they had on the path to purchase. The three panelists also frankly revealed the internal challenges they faced, and continue to overcome, working in businesses that may not see the value of turning to social. "Our industry is very laggard. Senior leadership thought that social was for their teen. I still continue to hear it, and spend twice the time educating everyone," explained Firestone Building Products' Director of Marketing Communications Paula Scheller.
For James Hardie Building Products, the company's embrace of new media was about finding new customers after the recession wiped out the market among developers. Instead, it went after consumers, creating a social media presence with information that inspired and informed people interested in renovating their homes. The company's social channels helped spark and sustain conversations with people met on offline channels, through an interactive display sent to local fairs and big hardware stores. The new initiatives were also tracked through its existing technology solutions, Salesforce and Marketo.
Firestone Building Products spent a lot of money on industry trade shows and parties, but hadn't focused on following up on leads after the show and guiding those people on the path to purchase. In contrast to what Scheller termed its "selfish" marketing in the past, mainly focused on pushing information, the company's social presence was designed to create a dialogue and help its audience. It aimed to engage customers, primarily contractors and architects, before and after they met them on the trade show floor. In addition to its Facebook page and Twitter account, the company was particularly excited about its LinkedIn presence, which allows it to create a community where users can ask questions and give recommendations centered on Firestone's product.
LinkedIn also drew the attention of the DMA this year, which honored the company with its Marketer of the Year award for its success with its sponsored content section. At the conference, which closes Wednesday, marketers continue to seek inspiration to advocate for innovation and "make the rest of the organization uncomfortable," in the words of another keynote speaker, Teradata Apps CMO Lisa Arthur.