New digital marketing trends for 2015 emerge with full force

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Companies are enlisting a variety of data, such as consumer location and demographics to join digital marketing with in-store, physical experiences.

Marketing used to be simpler.

At one time, companies sent direct mail or emailed customers. But today, companies are enlisting geolocation data, customer demographics and other business intelligence to create more personalized messaging to consumers and prospects.

New digital marketing trends are gathering steam in the market. Companies are now trying to market more effectively to customers through personalized messages that account for consumers' location, demographics and preferences. But they are also trying to drive customers back into physical locations with offers or by creating exclusive experiences in stores. Some retailers are using technologies like iBeacons to create these personal experiences once consumers are on-site, such as using a large touch-screen TV to enable customers to create custom orders with a few clicks and mix and match products.

Brent Leary, a principal at CRM Essentials, sat down with SearchCRM to discuss some of the digital marketing trends he's seen on the road at conferences like Adobe Summit 2015.

Customer personalization. While many companies are still struggling to craft targeted email messages, sophisticated marketing is going further. "Companies can send consumers personalized messages based on who they are, based on their transaction history, social [media] history, and craft personalized messages that hit them at the right time," Leary said.

So, for example, companies can tailor messaging to a consumer's location and profile. Adobe, for example, is able to alter the content of digital messages and even discount offers based on the location and profile of the recipient. So if an offer has expired, the message will automatically update with new content.

From digital marketing to physical experiences. Creating a personal experience has also moved from being solely a digital experience to become a physical one as well. As Leary noted, even in this digital world, 90% of financial transactions are closed in a physical location. So, the goal for many retailers, for example, is to combine a consumer's digital messaging, draw them into a store, and combine this digital information with an on-site experience.

For instance, retailers are redesigning in-store layouts to join the digital and the physical. Some retailers have a big screen in-store where you can mix and match clothes based on your body type. "When you put together the right combination," Leary said. "You hit a button and the screen says, 'You can pick that [outfit] up here.'" Leary said that the question becomes how to use technology to send the right message at the right time and create an effective, efficient experience.

And at Starwood Hotels, you can use your phone not only to check in but also to open your hotel door.

Mobile wallets. Mobile wallets enable customers to pay for products on a smartphone and also potentially receive offers, membership rewards and so on through a mobile application. But adoption has been slow. Analysts agree that mobile wallets probably won't take off until consumers can combine digital payment with other services, such as getting discounts, etc.

But some companies have already started to see initial results from mobile wallet initiatives. Houston-based Men's Wearhouse, for example, instituted a mobile wallet program, where it encouraged customers to save coupons to their smartphones. The result was a 166% increase in redemption of coupons and a 35% increase in the dollar amount of sales. Men's Wearhouse is expecting a seven-figure revenue boost from their Save to Wallet option.

Extending marketing beyond marketing. Finally, Leary noted that given consumers' increasing use of devices, companies now have opportunities to learn more about customers. They can take information about demographics and marry it to customer histories or other information residing in CRM, ERP systems to get a better handle on customer needs. "That provides so many opportunities to create a longer relationship that is fact based and to be a business with customer engagement and customer knowledge at the center," Leary said.