Context is something which helps humans to make sense of things. A situation can be interpreted in wildly different ways depending on its context – and marketing is no exception to this rule.
Today’s ‘entitled consumers’ are creating a mass of data and information. From demographic data, to social and transactional information, consumers are happy to offer their personal data, but demand in exchange a more personal experience and a deeper relationship. Context has the power to make or break communications between consumers and brands. When ignored or misinterpreted, it can have lasting, damaging effects on a brand relationship. Digital innovation has redefined consumer expectations of what brands can and should provide.
Consumers today expect relevant communications that speak directly to their needs in real-time. The technology exists to deliver personalised messages and experiences, so why are marketers failing to embrace contextual marketing?
Failing To Disrupt
According to research recently carried out by Selligent, which involved canvassing the views of 108 senior marketing executives, 67 per cent of CMOs admitted to not taking advantage of contextual data and the technologies available. The research also showed that marketers are actually waiting for their competitors to make the first move – with 81 per cent admitting that they would increase their use of situational data only if their competitors started first.
Contextual marketing is now a prerequisite and not an optional extra. It’s about a brand understanding the needs of the consumer in real-time , respecting their preferences and delivering value in that moment. Failure to move quickly will ultimately risk marketing ROI and bottom-line revenue.
The History Of Contextual Marketing
Once upon a time, shopping was always done locally; it was an extremely personal experience owned by “the shopkeeper”. In these simpler times, customers were identifiable by face and name, meaning relevant product suggestions were achievable on a small-scale, in real-time. This was all a much simpler form of marketing and largely met the consumer’s needs.
Following this period, there were a few decades where this all seemed to get a bit lost. Globalisation, the expansion of supermarkets and department stores, rampant digitisation and proliferation of consumer technology – it was clear that marketing needed to change. Today, by utilising customer data, marketers are now able to give consumers a personalised experience, at scale and in real-time, across online and offline channels.
Context At The Heart Of Consumer-First
Research has shown that despite data scepticism, consumers are willing to give brands their data, in return for personalised offers and improved customer service. This is where contextual marketing is able to bridge the gap between current marketing practices and ever-increasing consumer expectations. Most brands are able to collect data on their customers, but the key is in understanding and acting on the insight it provides, to build marketing initiatives that produce winning experiences. We call this approach Consumer-First Marketing. Contextual understanding of desires and preferences is key key, opening up new possibilities for merchants to deliver on user needs through the smart use of data. It goes far beyond knowing who your customer is and where they are located.
The aim is to continuously build out a 360 degree profile of your customer, which becomes actionable across all your channels, in real time, allowing brands to create customer experiences that are seamless, contextual and relevant on a one-to-one basis.
Beating The competition
Consumer is King. We live in an age where consumers are empowered and increasingly hard to please. Digitally native, this cohort expects contextually relevant brand messaging, offers and service.
The brands that embrace contextual marketing first will not only meet the unique needs of each customer and therefore strengthen loyalty, but over time, generate proprietary customer intelligence that will give those brands unparalleled advantages over their competition.