Today, customer knowledge is pivotal for any company. Buyers have access to more information and choices than ever. Customers have truly experienced a revolution, and they are now in control. That being said, how can businesses differentiate themselves among the masses? Large companies like Amazon.com and Apple have epitomized customer service. They have taken customer service to new heights by creating and maintaining great relationships. Businesses like these have created a standard and customers expect the same satisfaction from other businesses. Superior customer relationships contribute to higher revenues and greater loyalty.  For example, a study recently said 83% of customers will spend more on a product or service if they feel personally connected to a business.

In 2014, you do not have to be a multi-billion company known worldwide to build these connections with your customers. Whether it’s through social media, your website, or email marketing, you can find the best way. The following ideas will help you change your strategy and implement the best approach for enhanced customer service. Real-time communication generates numerous opportunities, and these trends will greatly benefit you.

Trend 1: Cart Abandonment Remarketing Becomes More Prevalent

Last year, cart abandonment remarketing was a trend online retailers and e-commerce companies began using. These campaigns produce “off-the-charts” conversion rates, because the customers are close to purchasing.  Most companies have many people who browse their site every day, who are already on their mailing list. Oftentimes, companies do not capitalize on these customers who have already established a kinship with their brand.

This year, the most successful marketers will be using browse abandonment to generate revenue. Technically speaking, a Web tracking code is inserted on your website pages connected to your email and e-commerce pages. The code matches cookied browsers with email addresses and sends a message when a known visitor’s behavior matches your criteria. Basically, you will be reaching a lot more browser abandoners than cart abandoners. The key is to focus these codes on to a few key pages of your website. Also, try to incorporate buying guides, how-to videos, and calculators to aid browsers in the decision-making process.

Trend 2: From Digital Acquisitions to the Physical World 

Most marketers are focused on database building and online acquisitions through social media and search engine optimization. In 2014, marketing professionals will focus more on physical location opt-ins. The customer may not buy anything, but you can connect with them through your digital channels. Your digital relationship will drive them back to your store or office. Integration between point of sale and mobile channels are becoming easier to implement.

To increase in-store opt-ins:

  • Use QR codes that send customers to opt-in pages.
  • Have cashiers ask customers to subscribe and get special offer or receipt by email.
  • Give employees incentives based on deliverable email addresses.
  • Use SMS alerts for store promotions and sales.

Trend 3: Actionable Data Makes All the Difference

In today’s world, mobile, social, and web buyers enjoy a personalized experience. Truthfully, your marketing is only as strong as the data at your fingertips.  Instead of using quick marketing platforms, many companies have started using data warehouse initiatives. These “warehouses” can spot key markets and trends you normally would not see. However, there are some downfalls. These are slow and expensive to use, and the information becomes aggregated. To do this, determine 5-10 data elements you need to personalize your marketing.

To build an actionable database:

  • Setup system integration and web tracking.
  • Use progressive forms, popover and surveys to acquire explicit data.
  • Try reaching out to a third-party data service provider.

Trend 4: Not Amazon or Netflix? No problem!

Both Netflix and Amazon receive millions of visitors. They have set a standard for customer experience.  Browsers see customized content based on viewing history, prior purchases and product ratings. You may not have billions to spend leisurely, but you no longer have to give every visitor the same content. When you provide a personal experience, visitors purchase more products and download more offers. The key is creating a bond between your marketing strategy and content management system (CMS). Once complete, you have to decide what data you will use to personalize customer experience.

To personalize your website:

  • There are several integration programs, choose one.
  • Start small and customize areas slowly.
  • Choose a starting place that will make an immediate impact.

Trend 5: The Importance of Location Marketing: iBeacon 

These days, you need to know where your customers are in order to deliver the best message at the right time.  Today’s marketers are communicating to customers through Facebook and Foursquare check-ins. Apple recently released iBeacon (used on iphone model 4s or later), which takes location-based marketing and geofencing to a new level.  It’s low-power Bluetooth technology can locate a customer within a store and send them push notifications based on their location. Besides location, you can tailor information sent based on other demographics. The iBeacon technology can also be used for customized coupons, personalized product information, and driving email opt-ins.

To employ location marketing:

  • Implement a plan that will enhance your in-store experience.
  • Work with employees to utilize the technology correctly.
  • Supplement a customer’s recent purchase with email communication.

Trend 6: Small Budget? Driving Data-Intelligence 

Should you worry about declining customer interactions? Yes. Can you be successful without an unlimited marketing budget? Yes. The idea is to utilize data-driven intelligence to its greatest potential. This can happen by changing the way you collect information.  Programs such as Windsor Circle and AgilOne can give you insights about customer value. This data models behaviors, and in turn, helps you deliver right messages at the right time.

Here are some key ideas for using buyer intelligence:

  • Look at aggregated data for new ideas.
  • Evaluate your purchase data history.
  • Consider the relationship between sales and your marketing tactics.

Trend 7: Creating the Perfect Customer Experience 

Previously, marketers had trouble determining what offer to market to what customer and the proper channel to communicate the message. Businesses must deliver personalized messages and promotions in order to achieve results.

To create the perfect customer experience:

  • Make real time important.
  • Choose a channel you have individualized and personalize it.
  • Utilize customer behaviors to boost cross-channel interaction.

In conclusion, there a variety of ways you can improve your marketing strategy in 2014. Companies can either continue to deliver generic messages and get lost in the fray OR they can deliver tailored content that will drive results. More than ever, the buyer is in control. They want to receive personalized, relevant and timely messages. Utilizing the above tactics will build better customer relationships and experience and ultimately increase revenue.

Adapted from: http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/promo/SP7Key2014/