A Context Marketing Criteria for the Hyper-Engaged Customer
There’s no doubt that the consumer is more powerful than ever. Forrester and Gartner (and McKinsey, and BCG, and Bain and Accenture and the list goes on) have researched and written about it extensively.
There’s no doubt that the consumer is more powerful than ever. Forrester and Gartner (and McKinsey, and BCG, and Bain and Accenture and the list goes on) have researched and written about it extensively. And if you are in the industry of helping clients with their digital ecosystems, I can guarantee that they have read up on and discussed the power of the consumer fairly extensively.
Since we all know that consumers are more empowered than ever, the question that is continuously asked is how to deliver the ideal customer experience and how to meet the needs of users who are more engaged, informed and connected than ever.
Enter: context marketing.
Context marketing is marketing to a user based on their engagement with your organization and the context of their interactions to date. While it sounds similar to personalization it takes that 1:1 conversation that we refer to when talking about personalization and brings it a bit further. Where personalization typically delivers a tailored message based on a “if this, then that” formula (i.e. if a user has viewed this page on the site, then show them this piece of content on their next/current visit), context marketing combines visit history with situational information (i.e. consumer and business circumstances) and delivers targeted content that is more relevant, and thus, more likely to resonate with a user at that given time and build customer loyalty.
With context, marketers can get a glimpse as to where customers are in their buying journey and deliver content at the point (and in the right format) when they’ll be most receptive to it. Understanding each customer’s unique journey is dependent on a clear picture of the triggers at every step in the journey, from awareness, research and interest to conversion. With over 3,500 marketing technologies out there, some may find it a challenge to build the right suite of tools to deliver on this promise of “right message at the right time.” However, today most marketers have tools in their tool box that puts context marketing within reach.
Technology aside, it’s become a matter of making sure that the right information is being collected/is accessible before executing on context marketing strategies. What types of information count as the "right information?" Let's take a look.
- Centralized User Data: Having a system in place to track user behaviors and interactions is a must have. Equally important is having a place where you are storing (and can access) user data to make sure your or your sales and marketing team know who the users are and can understand the history (read: context) of their interactions. Having this user information will allow marketers to serve up content that builds confidence and encourages users to take the next priority action in the journey. Out of the gate, having this information in a central location is important and make sure that it is routinely being checked so that user data remains clean.
- Device and Location Detectors: To put a visit into context, knowing how a user is getting to the site (i.e. device type) and from where (i.e. location) helps ensure the delivery of contextually relevant marketing. If a user is coming in via mobile, do we assume they are on-the-go? Is there a mobile or geo specific campaign code that gives us contextual clues about the user? This information will help marketers to deliver a unique and contextualized message based on device, location or other contextual clues.
- User Journeys: You would be shocked by how many organizations are not aligned on what their user/customer journey looks like. Understanding the phases users go through is key to building a strategy for context marketing. First, you define your audience segments as their journeys will vary. From there, you can uncover insights on what triggers users to move from one phase to another, so you have confidence that when a user clicks on “x,” they are in journey phase “y.”
- A Content Team and Plan: Content is a critical component that shouldn’t be overlooked, as it is one of the biggest blockers to context marketing and personalization. Having a well thought out and organized content creation plan (and a top notch content team) will ensure that as scenarios are being defined, there is a seamless work flow in place to deliver contextually relevant content.
The hardest part is getting started. Once you have all these in place you have a strong foundation to embark on your context marketing journey. Over time you can continue to iterate and measure against to grow and mature context marketing efforts.