These are the five key findings of the "Dialogue Marketing Report 2017".

After 2015, the SDV's dialog marketing study once again provides a direct insight into the industry. It provides insights into how the market has changed compared to 2015 and what challenges the industry is facing.

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In the midst of the process of digitization, planned stricter data protection amendments and the continuing strength of the Swiss franc, these have not diminished in two years. In this one, too, well over 200 clients and service providers were surveyed directly about their dialog marketing activities. Dialog marketing is understood as a form of communication that is interactive, personal and measurable. So, especially in this day and age, it is clear that dialog marketing is active in all channels.

From the comprehensive dialog marketing study 2017 conducted by ZHAW, the following stand out Five key results out:

1. digital transformation has arrived in dialog marketing spend.

For the first time, dialog marketing spending on the Internet has overtaken spending on physical mailings. According to the study, this process will continue.

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In the past two years, Internet spending has risen by an average of 18 percent annually and, at 28.1 percent of the total budget, has for the first time displaced physical shipments in second place (25.9 percent of the total budget). Spending on personal contact, such as customer visits, trade shows, telephone calls and personal promotions, has risen sharply to 22 percent of the total budget compared with 2015.

As expected, the importance of dialog marketing via physical mailings, print media, electronic media and out-of-home media is declining. According to the study authors, it is important to note here that only the part that is intended to initiate a dialog, e.g., through response elements, can be attributed to dialog marketing.

On the other hand, dialog marketing via mobile devices is also on the rise. Considering the dominant role that mobile marketing now plays in Facebook's international advertising revenues, significant growth can be expected here in Switzerland as well.

If the shares are extrapolated to the total market volume, the following overview results:

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2 "Purchasing tourism" for dialog marketing is still relatively uncommon among Swiss companies, and there are no discernible trends in this direction.

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As in the 2015 study, the vast majority (68 percent) do not source dialog marketing services from abroad, although this would be particularly attractive at the moment due to the continuing strength of the Swiss franc (chart above right). However, Swiss service providers also offer mixed-sourcing models in some cases in order to be able to offer more attractive conditions. Only 6 percent of those companies that already source dialog marketing services from abroad intend to expand this. In this respect, the 2015 forecast that foreign competition would increase has not yet been confirmed.

The chart in the top left-hand corner shows that the majority of companies are obviously still trying to handle the majority of dialog marketing work themselves (69 percent of dialog marketing work is done in-house). However, the further results of the study on expected data protection developments and dialog marketing trends call into question whether this can remain the case.

3. dialog marketing service providers are rated significantly more positively by clients.

The intention to recommend measured by the NPS has increased significantly compared to 2015. This time, the agencies are just ahead of the print shops in the customer value estimation.

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The results thus show that dialog marketing service providers have made significant gains in the esteem of their clients compared with 2015. The top three service provider sectors, agencies, print stores and lettershops, have NPS scores above 30, and only promotional products providers and address service providers have slightly negative scores (instead of strongly negative in 2015). Agencies in particular have made a leap, relegating print shops to second place by a narrow margin. In this respect, there is far less pressure to use service providers from abroad than in 2015, at least from a satisfaction point of view.

If we also include companies that have no direct contact with a service provider, which is most often the case with print shops and agencies, and look at the average values rather than the specific NPS calculation, the following table emerges. The picture does not change significantly and, above all, the greatly improved rating of the service providers by the clients is retained.

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4. in the 2017 dialog marketing study, clients are more trend-savvy than service providers.

They consistently attach greater importance to trends such as influencer marketing, trigger-based marketing and bots. Who will be right?

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It is immediately noticeable that for each individual statement, the agreement of the clients is higher on average than that of the service providers. So the clients are definitely more trend-savvy. Even if many supposed trends fizzle out again: This perception gap should give the service providers food for thought for their consulting and their offers, the study authors think.

For many companies, the crucial question for the future is: How do I (still) get into a dialog with my customers?

This question runs through the findings on privacy concerns, dialog marketing trends and benefits of physical mailings.

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In many cases, clients and service providers share the concern that tighter data protection rules will make it more difficult to address target groups in advertising (chart above). Nearly half (46% clients / 45% service providers) stated this in each case. One concern, for example, is that certain services can no longer be provided at all or that direct advertising will become more expensive due to requirements.

Overall, dialog marketing is proving to be a lively and significant field of work for both clients and service providers in marketing. The rapid pace of change offers plenty of challenges but also many new opportunities for service providers who can adapt to the change and support clients in their pressing issues, because still the far greater part of dialog marketing is done by the companies themselves. The challenge of staying in dialog with customers and arousing positive emotions in a digitized world is steadily increasing the importance of dialog marketing expertise. (hae)

The SDV study will be published on Thursday and can be downloaded from the SDV website as well as the ZHAW website.

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