A look back at the year that was... and our thoughts for the future

As the year draws to a close we look back at the key trends and stories that defined 2015.

January: Loyalty came under the microscope as a report revealed that points took too long to accrue and customers were no longer engaged. The older generation were found to be the most impatient. This led to many retailers reassessing their schemes

February: Royal Mail launches its acclaimed Mailmen campaign, which later in the year is hailed as one of the key reasons for DM growth

March: The Daily Mail starts its campaign against the direct mail sector claiming that since privatisation Royal Mail delivers 50,000 more items of ‘junk mail’ and leaflets every day

April: The ICO announces that it is going on a mystery shopping exercise to crack down on unscrupulous online data practices. Little did it know that later in the year the ICO’s office would be under fire to sort out telemarketing and fundraising

May: Wilmington Research conducted amongst the data industry revealed the tech industry to be the worst at keeping their databases up to date. The retail industry was discovered to be the most hygienic when it came to customer data

June: We launched the Mortascreen Salesforce app – this was a big deal for the industry as it was the first time anyone had ever offered data cleansing solutions via Salesforce. The Salesforce Economy is predicted to drive more than £5.6 billion of incremental revenue to the UK’s economy and create 50,000 new jobs by 2018. The app enables businesses that hold their customer database on Salesforce, such as charities and SMEs, to clean their data whilst hosted on the software

July: The tragic death of Olive Cooke, Britain’s oldest poppy seller sparked the controversy that would lead to governmental review of fundraising and data practices. The Daily Mail jumped on the bandwagon with many popular media programmes such as Watchdog and Rip Off Britain following suit

August: Despite the best efforts of the media to vilify the medium, new figures from The Advertising Association and WARC revealed that direct mail was in rude health with spend expected to reach £2 billion in 2016

September: A report by Public Health England found that life expectancy in England had risen by five years since 1990. This news has repercussions for marketers as they need to figure out how to target this growing wealth of ‘survivors’

October: TalkTalk hit the headlines with yet another high profile data leak. This time rather than a gang of cyber criminals it turned out to be a posse of teenagers with malicious intent. But it highlighted the importance of safeguarding customer data

November: The ICO announces yet another initiative to sniff out bad data practice. It says it will send out 1,000 letters to 1,000 firms demanding to know how they source their data and how they comply with current regulations

December: We issued new research having surveyed ex-offenders which worryingly revealed that criminals view ID fraud as one of the easiest crimes to commit. The most popular forms of ID fraud were deceased and mail fraud – significant findings for direct mailers

So that’s our whistlestop tour of 2015, but what of 2016? We predict that next year will be the year of micromarketing. Over the last few years provenance in the food industry has been a real issue, with many chefs making their name by only serving in season, local produce. This trend will leach across to the data and marketing industry. Brands will want (and if the ICO has its way, have) to know where its prospecting comes from. Consequently, there will be a shift to micromarketing which focuses very much on provenance. It will mean smaller, more tightly targeted campaigns, for example targeted by postcode area, age or hobbies etc. This doesn't necessarily mean reducing overall DM volumes, but simply dividing up campaigns into bite sized chunks. Ultimately through such an approach marketers will have greater control over their data. It is much easier to screen anomalies and inaccuracies such as deceaseds, goneaways and suspected vulnerable individuals out of smaller batches than large files of data. Furthermore, ROI on more closely targeted campaigns tends to be higher than more homogenised ones.

 Happy New Year! Have a good one and roll on 2016!