80614811This post originally appeared on the 9Clouds Inbound Marketing blog. To read more content from 9Clouds, be sure to subscribe to their updates.

In the new film Nebraska, the main character Woody Grant is nearing the end of his life and is found walking across Montana. When his son finds him, he asks the obvious question: "what are you doing?" Grant responds: "Heading to Nebraska to collect a $1 million sweepstakes that came in the mail."

Woody Grant is excited about the same thing your customers will be excited about in 2014: a personal message telling them about an amazing offer. We probably all remember watching TV and seeing Ed McMahon showing up at a door with balloons and a huge check. In 2014, you can (and should) deliver the symbolic "huge check" to every one of your customers. Why? 2014 is the year of personal marketing.

There are five major trends to look for and take advantage of as a marketer in 2014. All of which will help you give your customers the feeling of personally winning a million dollars (and they don't even have to go to my birthplace of Lincoln, Nebraska, to get it).

1) Big Data Meets Personal Data

Big data was a buzzword in 2013, but what most businesses learned is that having lots of data and information about their customers, industry and competitors doesn't provide answers. Someone needs to summarize and highlight action steps from the data. In 2014 look for big data to combine with personal data. As a business you have information about your customers, including: what they've purchased, how much they've spent and how long it's been since they've done business with you.

All of this customer data can and should be combined with the digital big data to identify who is in buying mode. Knowing the person's name and contact information will allow marketers to send the $1 million sweepstakes offer to the people who are checking their mailbox waiting for it. Our free Delicious Data recipe book will share examples from our automotive marketing efforts that you can apply to your business in 2014.

2) More Ads, Less Organic

We've reached the tipping point where social networks are now trying their best to monetize. Facebook publicly admitted that it is making it more difficult for businesses to appear organically. If a business wants to have more than 1-2% seen rate on their posts they're going to have to pay. As ads are added to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, expect the ability to reach your own audience organically to shrink.

This means you have to strategically choose where to spend your time online and know the best ways to make your content stand out.

3) Reemergence of your Home Base

Look for marketers to double down on building their own platforms in 2014. Instead of focusing solely on Facebook fans or Twitter follows, smart marketers will use these networks to drive signups to emails lists and subscribes to their blog.

As a business you have complete control over your website and email list. You don't have to check a box agreeing to any changes the platform might make. What's even better, customer acquisition via email has quadrupled in the last four years and has a customer lifetime value about 12% higher than average compared to 1% higher on Facebook and 23% below average for twitter. In 2014, it's back to the future for marketers.

4) Personal Messaging and Marketing

We've witnessed an explosion in personal message tools like SnapChat in the past months. Expect this trend to continue well in to 2014. These tools point to the power of immediacy and the importance of being personal. People want to use technology to talk to people and brands they care about. As a marketer, this means the axiom that you should be personal and real in your marketing is still relevant.

Also consider how to best use your current platforms to add time sensitive information to people who know you. You can experiment with SnapChat but the big takeaway is give people who know you an incentive to read and act on your marketing immediately.

5) Visuals FTW

Infographics and images will continue to attract more visits and improve conversion rates for marketing content. The fastest growing platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and even SnapChat are built around images (yes, selfies count). As a marketer, take great photos, create amazing designs or learn to search the Flickr commons to find images that will attract visitors to your content.

We saw the power of visuals this November as we launched our first social media education book, Navigating Social Media. We tapped the infographic design firm Lemonly to create an infographic for the launch. Within three weeks our blog post with the infographic had more views than almost all pieces of content we created the entire year.

The Year of Personal

Make 2014 the year of personal. Use data, visuals and personal messaging to improve the success of your website, social media and email. This is the year that you can deliver the oversized check to your customers for which they'll be willing to walk to Nebraska, (or click a link).

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Originally published Jan 7, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated September 30 2020


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