In the past few decades there have been a lot of changes in marketing - from mass marketing to direct marketing and with the current shift of customers gaining more control and marketers becoming the audience.

For the savvy marketer, looking for the transition from talking to listening and better engaging their audience in this new landscape, the answer is simple: data.

In particular, behavioral data reflecting actual actions of your customers and prospects is of interest. As clutter continues filling up inboxes, distributing marketing messages becomes a lot more effective if you're taking steps to carefully "listen" to your customers. And this means collecting information via various avenues: inviting your customers to tell you more about themselves, paying close attention to their behaviors, and removing any communication barriers.

With the powerful database that results, you'll be able to send highly targeted messages that increase engagement throughout the buying cycle, leading to increased conversions and customer loyalty.

However, preparing for the "data revolution" requires cleaning up your existing data and aligning your systems, building a robust database by collecting information through a variety of means and across a range of platforms, and using marketing automation to put this data to use by sending highly relevant messages that change depending on recipient actions and preferences.

By creating campaigns that foster dialogue with each and every customer on their terms and their timing, marketers can grow beyond audience-like thinking and achieve Bto1 marketing—real 1:1 dialogues with individual customers. Here are three tips to help prepare for and thrive in the new database-driven age of marketing.

  1. Get ready: To be successful in the new age of marketing, marketers will need a database that can act as a repository for almost any kind of information, reaching beyond "traditional" data such as profiles and email clicks and capturing online and offline behaviors from virtually every corner of the marketing world. Before diving into the data acquisition process, it may be necessary to conduct a little housekeeping to make sure you've got a solid foundation to build on.
  2. Collect invaluable Insights: As competition within the inbox grows increasingly fierce, the companies that rise to the top will be those whose customers and prospects actually anticipate and look forward to receiving their messages. This process starts with listening to your customers and prospects. And that means being where your contacts are, inviting them to tell you more about themselves and paying close attention to their behaviors across emails, websites and social networks—and even offline. 
  3. Put that data to use: With recipient tolerance for generic, irrelevant content at an all-time low, cutting through the clutter by speaking to customers and prospects on a 1:1 level has become more important than ever. Fortunately, sophisticated marketing automation platforms provide a way for marketers to harness the detailed customer and prospect data you've collected and use it to respond with timely, relevant, personalized content driven by these behaviors. And today's marketing technology also provides more robust reporting data that enables you to gain more insights than ever on how your emails, campaigns and programs are performing.

As marketers today, you have more opportunities at your fingertips than ever for reaching and engaging prospects and turning them into loyal customers. But before you can do so, you need to do some legwork to prepare your company for taking advantage of these opportunities.

From automating your systems to building a remarkably comprehensive database and using it to deliver dynamic, triggered messaging, up to viewing the results in a single holistic analytical reporting structure, this powerful transformation is requiring marketers to think differently about planning, strategy and tactics. For savvy marketers, now is the time to bring all the silos and channels together to gain a singular view of each customer and prospect that has never been possible before. By doing so, contacts can be treated as individuals and not a faceless segment. And marketers can achieve higher levels of engagement and ROI than ever.

By MediaBUZZ