This is part 8 in a ten part series reflecting marketing trends for 2013. To read the original post, click here: 

Over the past few weeks, many of us have been overwhelmed by the number of emails in our inboxes – not just because of the Facebook alerts and holiday greetings, but by advertisers battling for their share of our holiday spend. For most of the emails, it’s yet another simple unsolicited ad in line for the delete button. However, some marketers have learned how to pull together transaction and behavioral data along with digital communications in ways that truly sway consumer decisions.

Take Amazon for example.  A consumer makes a purchase for a tablet this holiday season. As marketing efforts follow, even micro segmentation strategies don’t compare to the follow up experience that Amazon creates with targeted offers for accessories that match the initial purchase. As for relevance, these offers aren’t necessarily for related items that Amazon wants to push based on margin, inventory, or other sell-side benefit, the selected items are based on behavioral information from other consumers – continuous refinement based on actual peer-consumer experience such a cover selection often purchased with a specific accessory package.

While Amazon has been refining their online marketing for years, others have emerged recently with equally, if not more impressive data and technology approached.

Consider this real-world example… a consumer is walking in a local shopping mall. An email or app alert pops up with an offer for $2.00 off a latte and pastry combination. If just so happens that it’s the coffee shop just ahead. All of a sudden, it seems like a great time for a shopping break. How does the marketer get so lucky with timing? Well, it’s not luck and there’s a lot of technology behind this instantaneous offer.

Geofencing is a technology that alerts a mobile app that a consumer is in proximity to a specific location. This can be from a few feet to several miles. So, as consumers approach a target retail location, geolocation aware apps can trigger events such as marketing offers. But that’s just the beginning. 

Now you have the right time, but how do you get the right offer? Again, technology. Using ongoing testing and transactional data, marketers can learn that a specific consumer has a preference for a specific product – latte and pastry. Going even further, the marketer even understands that a specific discount is the trigger for purchase. So instead of everyone getting $1.00 off, those who need a more enticing offer to sway discretionary spend get a more attractive offer. So then finally, how do you link consumers to transaction information in a typical retail relationship? Loyalty programs, point-of-sale data capture, and now mobile payment technologies. Like loyalty cards that identify a repeat customer and join purchase data, mobile phones link a specific consumer to purchase behavior.

We’ve seen the level of personalization and relevancy in online marketing sites like Groupon, Livingsocial, and others increase with learning through use of behavioral data. Going beyond relevant offers and enticing offers delivered in-hand, technologies like mobile payment and geofencing give elements of convenience and precise timing that continue to refine right time, right message, right offer optimization of direct marketing.