In 2010, digital marketing recorded a disproportionately high growth. However, in the maze of possibilities, it is essential not to loose sight of important targets. Many companies are infected by the general euphoria surrounding social media, without having done their overall homework. For the year end, we have summed up a preview of what will be really important in online dialogue marketing in 2011.

Trend 1: Marketing Process Management – Service Orientation Instead of Broadcasting

Marketing and customer service go hand in hand and will grow into a core digital requirement for companies. In a study by management consultant detecon, 85% of the participants forecast that automation and self-services will become a substantial trend in future customer service. User friendliness and experiential orientation are forefront. In view of the increasing competitive pressure, it is important to integrate the most suitable online dialogue marketing in all business processes. Thanks to decreasing success rates, the classic deluge of broadcast direct marketing will sooner or later reach the end of its usefulness. Customers are already requesting individual care and a relevant benefit from marketing dialogue. In order to avoid that this task becomes a cost trap, many companies have a technological and organisational re-engineering of marketing and service processes on their agenda for 2011. Dialogue marketing, CRM and ERP systems and last but not least the business culture required for these new tasks are being scrutinised. However, it is worth it – this is the conclusion of a study by Forrester. 62% of all questioned IT and business decision makers already state, that the investments in modern CRM concepts have led to greater customer satisfaction. 54% saw the decrease as having a positive impact and 38% even registered an increase in their turnover.

Trend 2: Centralising Data and Privacy Handling

With the consistent customer orientation of the marketing processes, a well-known topic reappears on the agenda: the centralisation and clearing of customer data. The majority of businesses still operate with heterogeneous data silos. In four out of five companies, customer data and the knowledge associated with it, are stored in separate, not linked systems and are partly redundant and often outdated. Last but not least, growing demands on legal implications are turning into a real issue. The concepts and systems in use are often dated, grown over time and unsuitable for modern dialogue marketing and the management of terms and conditions for data usage required for it. According to a study on industrial enterprises, in nearly half of all companies, there is no clear information or no proof of consent regarding data usage for marketing purposes. Apart from the centralisation of systems, the improvement of the proof and the expansion of the consent for data usage will ultimately become an urgent task.

Trend 3: Individualisation in Real-time Instead of One-off Segmentation

With the clearance and centralisation of existing data, the first step is taken. However, the capacity to dynamically process marketing data will be demanding as well as decisive for future competitiveness of companies. Many companies still restrict themselves to the collection and storage of data from customer relations, which are then in the best case scenario evaluated in diagrams and presentations. Annual analyses for the segmentation of target groups and planning of improvement measures in view of the continuously increasing speed of customer trends are no more up to date. Instead, infrastructures are required, which can cope with the granularisation of customer segments and support a processing of information, that allows marketing decisions in real-time. This is the basis for the required automation of the marketing processes.

Trend 4: Social CRM

The trend to communication via social media is unstoppable. Private life as well as professional world are increasingly penetrated by digital social nets. The first wave of euphoria will be followed by real matter in 2011. 70% of participants in a study by detecon believe that social media is an important service channel of the future. In the future, companies will conduct vital processes of their customer service via public dialogues and establish customer loyalty on a new, much more personal level. Social media will therefore increasingly become a challenge in the context of customer management. The control of this task will shift from web marketing to the CRM department, where central service processes must come together. A new core task in this context will be the exploitation of social media for the generation of leads.

Trend 5: User Engagement Throughout All Channels

Cross media has been preached for a long time already and in fact, the task to reach customers and retain them in comprehensive communication is becoming more and more challenging. Even in online dialogue marketing, the complexity of channels is growing. In addition to classic email marketing, there are now mobile target groups, messaging services establish themselves further within social media and premium mail services, such as Trusted Dialog and Goodmail, expand emails by further features and requirements. For marketers, this means, in 2011, they need to further press ahead the network of channels in the dialogue concept and the technology behind it. Lead generation and dialogue marketing are now not only taking place via a handful of touch points, but via all channels. It is essential to consistently monitor the performance of the measures and channels used and handle the channel-specific communication through the adequate technology as efficiently as possible.


After the consolidation in marketing in 2001, many companies are still in a transitional phase. The benefits of efficient, partially automated digital marketing are identified. However, adequate infrastructures, processes and often also a real internalisation of the customer orientation are still lacking. 2011 will set the course for a more individual, service and user oriented marketing communication. Markets, customers and the self-image of companies undergo a radical change. The knowledge and the tools are there – the right strategy and brave actions decide the competition.