There's a big opportunity to make marketing smarter, in terms of how customer data is collected and used, how campaigns are planned and executed, and in terms of driving higher revenue, satisfaction, and loyalty, according to Anthony Wilkey, regional director of account management for SmartFocus. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

It is undoubtedly important for businesses to deliver personalised, real-time customer interactions across email, mobile, social, web and offline channels, and to continually engage customers with relevant, personalised messages that drive better campaign performance and increase customer lifetime value.

So keeping the customers' preferences at the heart of every marketing campaign will continue to be a key trend in the future. With access to cloud marketing platforms and personalisation technologies, marketers are increasingly able to engage more easily with customers, and more able to create richer and more relevant experiences.

With this in mind, Wilkey suggests the following three strategy points for future-proofed 'smart marketing':

  1. Develop engaging dialogue with customer data
    It's important to provide marketing that is meaningful and valuable to customers, but in order to do this one must first be able to answer the question - who is my customer? For example, an overall picture of frequent or loyal shoppers is important, but to take marketing to the next level, marketers must be able to action this knowledge about each unique shopper.

    Cloud marketing platforms can help marketers leverage real-time campaign performance to help them understand how their customers are responding to their campaigns right now. Easily answering questions around the devices they are using, what information they found important and shared and if that campaign resulted in the customer taking action - signing up for an event, making a purchase or visiting your store. When marketers engage customers with relevant, personalised messages, they have the opportunity and ability to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time; driving campaign performance and increasing customer lifetime value.

  2. Improve marketing by building campaigns on preference data
    There seems to be a disconnect between what marketers think their customers want and what their customers actually want. It is essential that marketers don't get caught up in the latest, hottest industry trends, rather than take the time to assess what their customers are doing so they can deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time and in the right format.

    The amount of time we have to make a good impression is getting shorter and shorter, and we are quickly learning that if online experiences aren't delivered in a quick and easy-to-view format consumers will navigate away from websites and delete marketing messages without a second thought. As businesses deliver better online experiences, understanding how consumers want to digest and receive marketing is becoming essential. Marketers must understand how customers view their marketing - whether it is on a mobile device, tablet or desktop - and deliver positive, more engaging experiences. Marketers must continue to improve the customer experience by ensuring marketing campaigns are compatible with all browsers and devices.

  3. Create more personalised experiences
    As visitors navigate their favourite websites, as they browse different categories and products, their unique preferences become apparent and businesses can quickly learn what colours, products, price points and sizes their customers want. With personalisation, business can quickly begin to predict products that may be related, leading to much more relevant product suggestions. This valuable data can also be used to retarget customers by injecting personalised product recommendations directly into emails.

    Marketers will increasingly use technologies that look at the individual preferences and behaviours of millions of online customers and delivering targeted recommendations across all channels. Using this approach, businesses will be able to move beyond traditional segmentation-based marketing into personalised 1-to-1 marketing that boosts conversion rates, customer satisfaction and loyalty.

"In 2014 and beyond, we should enjoy a future of deeper knowledge and understanding that will lead to richer, more relevant, personalised customer experiences," concluded Wilkey.