Hello and welcome to another Mailbox Monday!

While I sometimes feel redundant starting every mailbox Monday this way, it’s gotta be said… Today is the day where I answer YOUR questions. About marketing, copywriting, business, life, the works! Just drop me a line at [email protected]. Or as an email subscriber, you can just hit “reply.”

Now let’s get into it!

Today’s question comes from a one Ms. Anonymous…

Everyone is always saying that the ‘big thing’ that changed marketing completely was the birth of the Internet…but come on, that’s old news (22 years old in fact since most people became aware that it exists…mid-90s since everybody had email). In your own rise to success/fame/glory – last decade as you say, what has been the ONE, or 2 or 3 if you prefer, big things in marketing since 2004? Why? Moving forward, how will it play out in coming years 5…10, or as far as you care to forecast?


I’m going to start my answer indirectly, with a story…

Data: the biggest breakthrough in marketing in the last 10 years...  Here's why...

Data: the biggest breakthrough in marketing in the last 10 years… Here’s why…

A couple weeks back, I got a text from my brother-in-law…

“Hey man, I got a question. Is what you do any form of “Direct Marketing?”

I laughed a little bit. And then told him, “That’s exactly what I do.”

This guy is studying quantum physics, and quantum math. He’s huge into studying science and solving math problems. (He’s back in school after a stint working the fields with one of the world’s biggest oilfield services firms.)

And very recently, he’d decided he was very interested in the field of actuarial science.

Actuaries are most often employed by insurance companies. A really simple description of the job is to look at all the health and death and insurance and financial data, and crunch it together to come up with things like life expectancy for an individual applying for insurance. And to be able to create a reliable model that allows the insurer to keep prices competitive and make a small profit.

Good actuaries can literally create multi-million-dollar or better solutions for the companies they work for. So it’s a highly-paid, in-demand skill.

I think he’d be great at it.

Anyways, as he’s having discussions with all these folks about how to get a gig that puts him on the path to becoming an actuary (it’s not a short road), he runs into this guy from an area insurance company who wants his skills for another reason.

Turns out they do a HUGE volume of direct mail.

And they need folks with the same skills as the actuaries to analyze marketing data. Running financial information against list profiles, response data, and more.

Plus there’s all the online stuff. Identifying traffic sources and the unique customer characteristics of that particular website traffic source.

When you get into high-volume and particularly high-price-point direct marketing, these become an even bigger focus.

Not creative. Not copywriting. Numbers. Data modeling.

You may have heard the buzzword “Big Data” recently?

I’m not a huge fan of the term, but this is exactly what it is.

In the last 10 years, a combination of interconnectivity, computing power, storage capacity, and supporting technologies have led to one big trend.

Every little thing we do online can be and is being tracked.

Now there are folks who want to use this for nefarious reasons. It’s frightening that Facebook, in conjunction with US government intelligence divisions, studied how the stories they showed you impacted the mood of your posts.

There are also people who want to use this for good. For example, when we were promoting The Titans of Direct Response, we used remarketing (only possible with this data) to keep the event in front of folks who’d visited the sales page. Our intention was to get you to register if the event was a fit for you, knowing that it had the potential to pay off for you many times over by being there.

The worst scenarios that could come from big data might be nightmares.

However, if you are ethical, and sell a product that benefits your customers, it has the potential to help you improve their life.

By digging through the data to spend your marketing dollars most efficiently, you’re able to reach the best possible audiences with the best possible economics, which allows you to pour the money back into creating even more value for yourself and your customers, as well as growing your business and adding jobs to the community.

All of this is made possible with the collection and analysis of data…

It’s not even just your web browsing, either. As the technologies grow more synergistic, all sorts of new opportunities will arise.

The smartest marketers have been all over this for years.

My friend Brian Kurtz was doing this when it was really hard to do at Boardroom, decades ago. Some of the stuff they used to do with regression modeling to identify ideal potential customers is now being done on-the-fly by Google AdWords on the display network.

In the long term, this should lead to more relevant marketing for us as consumers, and less irrelevant marketing to have to filter out. It won’t ever be perfect, but that will be the general trend line.

Just think for yourself. How many times have you been on a website and seen an ad that seemed far more relevant to YOU than to the website you were browsing? Where the ad seemed completely out of place on the website. It happens to me all the time. And frankly, I like it better than a bunch of irrelevant ads. I also know how to opt-out of this tracking, or avoid it, if necessary. But from a marketing perspective, I choose to let it follow me most of the time.

So what’s YOUR role in this?

Well, if you’re a copywriter or advertising creative, expect to write more ads, that are each more tailored to a smaller target audience. This is a best practice anyway, although few people do it.

Also, identifying this opportunity for clients can create opportunity for you. Taking on a strategic role as a consultant, you can help them identify opportunities in remarketing and hypertargeting of ideal audiences, which will only improve the profitability of your campaigns.

And if you’re into data and running the numbers, be confident that this is a much-needed skill set. And for the time being, it’s only going to grow in demand.

The funniest thing about all of this…

Is that direct marketing has now — as a result of the growth of tracking and data — become more relevant than ever.

Now not only CAN things get tracked, they WILL get tracked. Especially online. Marketers can either ignore what the numbers say at their peril, or they can get hip to what direct marketers who’ve been tracking their ads all these years have been doing to increase response.

This makes all the direct response skills we talk about here even more relevant. And even more needed.

And that’s the core reason of why I think the data explosion is the biggest breakthrough in marketing in the last 10 years.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets

P.S. — My brother-in-law’s gig is still pending. They loved him but the job doesn’t officially exist yet. So we’ll see there.

P.P.S. — I officially closed registrations on my 12-month Unlimited Access Copywriting Coaching service today. I’m full for now. If you’d like to be the first to know when I’m taking new coaching students again, you can sign up for the waitlist here.