The publishing industry’s direct marketing teams gathered at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel last Wednesday for the PPA Customer Direct 2016 conference and awards.

We’ve sponsored Customer Direct for a few years now. It’s always a great opportunity to catch up with clients, make some new friends and learn about the challenges facing the industry. Jake and Shane were certainly raring to go from early doors…


So what were the talking points from this year?

The Conference

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘The Customer Journey’, with speakers from the likes of Hearst Magazines UK, The Guardian, Econsultancy and Motorsport discussing its various elements at length. Here’s what we gleaned from the sessions we managed to catch…

Only 1 in 10 organisations feel they deliver a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints

Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Econsultancy and president of Centaur Marketing at Centaur Media, shared some interesting Econsultancy research on customer experience.

Though this wasn’t limited to the magazine world, Ashley suggested the findings are broadly reflective of sentiment across any sector.


His advice: learn from the 10% doing it right. Particularly in relation to team structure and the role of Chief Customer Officer.


Every publisher claims to be audience-driven. Few of you actually are

Stark words from Jim Bilton of Wessenden Marketing, when presenting the findings of Subscription Futures, his annual research piece on the state of the industry.


Barriers to resolving this include an increasingly longer acquisition journey, changes to team structure and role requirements, and inadequate content atomisation.


Niche title marketing is becoming more effective thanks to pockets of interest driven by social media

This statement almost got lost in an absorbing three-speaker session around lead generation. But in mentioning it, Justin Thomas of Tomorrow TTH hit on something we’re experiencing first-hand.

Publishers are regularly asking us what they can do to leverage their social media audiences, in order to drive engagement and ultimately subscription sales. The answer is: plenty.


Your audience might spend an hour a day consuming your content. The rest of their time is probably spent on Facebook. We need to understand this and react to it

From the same lead gen session, this point by Quantcast’s Femi Taiwo builds on the last quote.

Understanding the customer journey and influencing the end result means knowing precisely what your audience does online, when they do it, and when the best time is for your content to fit into life so it becomes habitual.

If it’s Facebook, you need to be there with something relevant and powerful.


We don’t believe the internet is living up to expectations

Then two self-confessed geeks, James and Cardavan of cloud.IQ, came along and blew everyone’s minds.


98% of visitors to e-commerce sites leave without purchasing. Why? Because websites aren’t optimised to deliver a personal experience. Nor are they able to learn what behaviour converts, and automatically tweak their content according to these learnings.

The secret to these capabilities lies in AI. Until now, it’s been too costly and has required too much computer power to implement. Now both these issues have been solved – and cloud.IQ are helping businesses capitalise.

What they presented has great potential for publishers, but also far beyond. Essentially they gave us a glimpse into the future of the internet. And it was fascinating.

The Awards

That evening we donned our tuxedos and headed back to the Carlton Tower to see which teams would take home the Customer Direct Awards’ coveted prizes.

It was a great night, hosted by the hilarious Tiff Stevenson who had us in stitches for the whole ceremony.

As sponsors of the Integrated Campaign of the Year category, our new business director Dave had the honour of presenting the award to the winners Dennis Publishing for their To Infinity And Beyond campaign.


In fact, Dennis swept the board this year, winning six awards including Marketing Team of the Year and Magazine of the Year.

Congratulations to them and all the other winners, including our clients at Immediate Media, Future and Bauer Media.