It seems to me that the e-mail and catalog marketing industry reached an inflection point at the end of 2007.
Many multichannel brands experienced productivity decreases in both e-mail and catalog marketing. This is surprising, because we've been told for the past seven years that these two crafts must be integrated, and are essential to the success of a multichannel marketer. The trend is independent of the economic downturn that began in Q4-2007.
Multichannel marketing, in the form pundits thought it would take, died in 2007.
It actually began to die long before 2007.
Since 2003, 145 million beleaguered phone owners said "no" to telemarketing.
Since 2004, Can-Spam gave consumers some say in the deluge of e-mail marketing they receive. Coupled with spam filters, consumers are at least able to combat the ridiculous flow of garbage they receive each day (for me, 55 spam messages and 5 valid e-mails in the past sixteen hours).
We're using DVRs to avoid television advertising (and in many ways, we're simply avoiding television), mitigating the impact of that channel.
We're abandoning newspaper subscriptions, another time-honored channel.
In 2007, services were created to help consumers gain control over their physical mailbox. In 2008, this trend may approach crisis mode for some catalogers. We'll only have our own online customer mailing strategies and customer acquisition strategies to blame.
Over the next few years, consumers will awaken to the fact that Google and brands are tightly integrated, maybe too tightly integrated. Consumers will demand to have ownership of online privacy. Don't expect Google give up any ground without a fight.
What a dichotomy. We believe we have to execute brilliant multichannel efforts. Consumers are telling us they are tired of multichannel efforts. Where does this leave us, as marketers?
In 2008, I will spend a lot of time talking about how we use information to better understand customer behavior. More specifically, I will talk about the inflection points where customers no longer have interest in one form of advertising, or one channel. These inflection points are where you, the catalog and e-mail marketer, will become more profitable, and will anger fewer customers.
This is the essence of Multichannel Forensics.