By 2020, an estimated 40 zettabytes of data will be flowing across the globe, according to a recent IDC study. That astonishing estimate is the result of our digital lifestyle—the booming Internet of Things, social media, streaming videos, Web searches, online transactions, and more.

Every single touchpoint contributes to our individual digital footprint.

The abundance of data should be an advantage to brands wanting to interact better with their customers. Many marketers, however, are missing the mark and still lacking critical insights into who their customers are and how best to communicate with them.

Customers drop clues about what they want every day through the actions they take while they surf and scroll on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The majority of companies are not picking up on customers' clues, though. In fact, only 2% of consumers believe that the brands they patronize know them extremely well.

The Marketing Conundrum

Many marketers still rely on old-school strategies, such as investing in only broad-based campaigns that aren't personalized.

So, marketers are spamming millions of consumers with irrelevant offers and driving potential customers to competitors with contextual, one-to-one personalized marketing programs.

Even worse, those spamming marketers are wasting their time in using ineffective tactics like fake personalization (i.e., "customized" offers and communications using only basic identifiers or broad demographic information). We've all received emails with our name awkwardly inserted in the subject line.

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image of Dave O'Flanagan

Dave O'Flanagan is CEO of Boxever, a Dublin-based predictive marketing and customer intelligence company for travel retailers.

LinkedIn: Dave O'Flanagan