A TEAM from Dorset visited London’s Technology for Marketing Show to help firms stay in touch with the latest trends in reaching customers.

Representatives from Dorset Growth Hub went to Olympia for the event, attending seminars and hearing about products that could benefit small and medium-sized businesses.

They said it could be summed up in four words – email, personalisation, emotion and listening.

Andrew Knowles, a digital specialist who attended for Dorset Growth Hub, said: “Perhaps surprisingly for an event about technology and marketing, the focus was very much on consumers as real people living busy lives. People don’t mind being marketed to, but only at the right time, in the right way. Digital tools are making this easier, but only for businesses willing to invest in learning what works.”

The team found email marketing in “rude health” despite the General Data Protection Regulation, with one presenter after another saying email remains at the heart of many successful marketing campaigns. Businesses were encouraged to tailor emails to different stages of a customer’s journey, rather than sending mailshots to everyone.

GDPR was seen positively as a way of improving the quality of mailing lists. One study described email open rates of 60 per cent, far above those often associated with mass mailings.

Personalisation was a key theme, with businesses learning to see customers as people with different interests and preferences. Digital automation and artificial intelligence (AI) make it easier to create customised marketing messages.

The word “emotion” turned up frequently in presentations, with firms endeavouring to use digital marketing to “surprise and delight” customers.

Pet lifestyle business PetsPyjamas was held up as a great example of a brand that had found success by tapping into the strong emotional bond between dog owners and their pets.

“Say less and listen more” was another common theme from speakers, Dorset Growth Hub reported. Businesses could learn a huge amount by listening to and sharing customers’ stories, both good and bad, speakers said.

N Brown, the multimillion pound company behind several UK fashion brands, now recruits nine out of 10 customers online, with up to half its sales coming via mobile devices. The company has successfully transitioned from being a traditional mail-order catalogue retailer, and it ascribes much of its achievement to having learned to listen well to its customers.