Competition for consumer attention and spending is fierce. Online and international businesses are a threat to local retailers. Australian businesses must adapt to remain competitive – exploiting new technology, trends and best practice. Pitney Bowes has identified and outlined five key marketing trends for 2014 along with three ways to ensure your business is ready for the year ahead.

Five key marketing trends for 2014

  1. Social media marketing will move to the next level. Know who your audience is and where they are in the social world. Maybe they are on Twitter and Facebook, maybe they are on LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest or forums. If you only focus on the most popular or obvious social sites you might miss out on valuable niche groups. Smaller sites are also likely to have less competition for your audience's attention.

  2. Customers will be pickier about which content they read. With an enormous amount of information bombarding people every day, it is vital that businesses only communicate interesting, meaningful, fresh material. Focus on creating content that guides your prospective buyers - provide value-added tips, tricks and educational information.  You should also consider a discipline around customer advocacy in order to encourage user-generated content. This can help form an essential base of customer endorsement that greatly influences new purchases.  Keep the content interesting by using a variety of rich media like videos, photos and webinars. Ask yourself how customers consume your content. Depending on whether they are using a laptop, a tablet or mobile device, you may wish to adapt your content or format. 

  3. Social reviews will become key factors in customer decision-making. Word-of-mouth is a key influence in buying decisions. Online consumer review sites have replaced traditional word-of-mouth recommendations. Sites like Yelp, which has an average of 61 million unique visitors per month, provide potential customers with ratings, reviews and detailed experiences to influence consumer decision making. Increasingly consumer social networks and ratings sites will intersect, letting consumers see when one of their connections has posted a review. While anonymous reviews are surprisingly influential, reviews from trusted friends and co-workers are ultimately the most persuasive.

  4. Mobile apps will help customers buy from you. Mobile marketing is growing and mobile devices are central to consumers’ lives. Around 65 percent of all Australians now own a smartphone.
    Consumers increasingly use smartphones to find and engage with businesses. The most important thing a mobile app can do is simplify your message down to a direct call-to-action and make that action as easy as possible to act on. Generally, if someone is searching for your app they probably already know about your business and want to streamline the process of doing business with you. Be easier to do business with.

  5. Knowing where your customers are will help you sell. Location Intelligence will help more and more businesses reach out to customers with highly targeted offers. With consumers embracing mobile technology and social media at staggering rates, “where” has become the new in-demand application. Location Intelligence can define a customer’s ‘spatial footprint’ and incorporate that into business analysis and marketing strategy. GPS-enabled smartphones now make it possible to not only know where customers live and work, but also where they are at any time. This information unlocks new ways to interact in a relevant and meaningful way with customers that are near retail outlets or inside a ‘geofence’. Location Intelligence is the missing piece in the big data puzzle. When you are able to combine customer preference data, with social media insights, geo-demographic profiles of where a customer lives and where they are at this very moment there is an unparalleled opportunity to engage that customer with a relevant message – when and where it is most meaningful.

How to make sure your business is ready for 2014

  • Multichannel marketing. Multichannel marketing campaigns will need to be taken to a new level. Increasingly, customers use multiple channels including mobile apps and the web to find the information they need, relying less on their relationships with sales representatives. Businesses need to tap into every avenue necessary to reach existing and potential customers.
  • Location, location, location. Businesses need to become Location Intelligent.  Over the past five years the online world has attempted to remove location as a business advantage but that is now changing.  In 2014 we will see unprecedented adoption levels of Location Intelligence in the social media realm.  Make sure you are prepared for the opportunity to use your retail presence as a competitive advantage once again.
  • Optimise web presence for mobile search. Web searches on smart-phones have become much more common, quadrupling in number in 2012 . Mobile search is now critical for reaching customers who are nearby and ready to buy.

Simon Bird General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, Pitney Bowes Software. Pitney Bowes provides technology solutions for small, mid-size and large firms that help them connect with customers to build loyalty and grow revenue.