Recent figures from Gartner suggest that there will be some 30 billion web-connected devices globally by 2020 and, while this presents fantastic opportunities for marketers, our focus should be on the customer and not on the latest piece of shiny new technology, according to Barry Smith, senior consultant for Ikano Insight. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Poorly used technology could simply result in disengagement not only from communications, but from the brand altogether.

So how can you ensure that your brand is using technology to deliver the most relevant and timely communications in order to drive your customers to spend more, spend more often, and remain engaged? Ikano Insight offers the following ten tips for using technology to increase customer engagement and loyalty:

  1. Make your customers' lives easier and simpler
    With so much choice on offer, if you're not offering a personalised, relevant and streamlined experience across all channels, chances are you won't keep your customers for long.
  2. Be consistent ... Everywhere
    Responsive websites and social channels that are integrated with your other systems and processes are a must-have.
  3. Don't talk barbecues when it's 5 degrees outside
    Location-based notifications can add value when they're timely and contextual! Consider time, location, demographics and individual needs when planning your messaging.
  4. In-store tech can enhance customer experience
    Kiosks and interactive tablets provide an additional touch-point in the customer journey and can be used to collect data and trigger engagement - think personalised offers, self-service ordering, or membership and loyalty sign-ups.
  5. Get real with real-time participation
    Drive your customers to participate in real time. Consider topical and timely tweets, targeted digital, gamification and interactive TV ads.
  6. Tune in to your customer's wants and needs
    The 'Internet of Things' is a massive opportunity. But always think about how what you're doing benefits your customer - for example, would anyone really want a fridge that tells them not to eat any more cheese? Make sure you are 100% tuned in to how your customers expect to interact with you and what they want and need.
  7. Build communities of like-minded individuals
    Where possible, segment your customers according to their interests as well as their preferences or demographic profile. The better you understand people as individuals, the more likely they are to be loyal.
  8. Don't drown in data
    It's tempting to gather every piece of data that's ever created - but be brutal about its value. Only collect data that you know will directly affect sales and influence customer behaviour.
  9. Technology is nothing without the human touch
    Remember the last time you used that self service checkout and it wouldn't let you put that bottle of wine in your bag until the assistant had been over and pressed a button? Real people make processes and transactions simpler, easier and more user-friendly, and are vital to maintaining happy customers.
  10. Match the technology to your customers
    Personalised offers aren't new. Whichever technologies you choose to invest in, ensure you create a seamless customer experience from start to finish to keep your customers coming back. 'One size doesn't fit all' has never been a more important mantra.

Ikano Insight has published a detailed white paper providing greater detail and additional tips, entitled Using technology to boost customer loyalty and ROI, and has made it available for free download from the company's web site - click here (free registration required).