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Drive Engagement and Improve Customer Experience: Fathoming Contextual Marketing

Getting your customers more engaged is the main mission for all marketers out there. Learn the crucial elements your marketing operations should have to deliver on the contextual marketing promise

The success of contextual marketing can be encapsulated to one main idea: the capability to identify and give customers exactly what they want.

In an environment in which ads are a noisy nuisance, transitioning into a “best-friend brand” is the only way to break through the marketing clutter and grab a piece of customers’ wallet share. A surge in technologies for real-time hyper-targeting, catering to micro-segments of customers, embodied the vision of contextual marketing. On a practical level, the marketer’s job is to back the customer’s context to deliver cycles of real-time, insight-driven interactions. This will drive deeper engagement and will help the brand to learn more about the customer.

But to do so successfully, brands must gather a diverse and holistic set of customer data: behavior, demographics, preferences, content, devices, time, location and more. Enriching this view with predictive analytics, activity tracking and real-time capabilities results in a richer 360° customer view.

A stable ground for real-time interactions

Contextualized marketing enables customer-centric brands to perfectly iterate the customer brand experience by optimizing factors that unconsciously play a role in a customer’s purchase decisions.

That said, brands encounter significant barriers on their way to customer centricity, such as gaps in customer data accessibility and the ability to take insight-based actions.

A 2018 study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, sponsored by SAS researched the importance of real-time capabilities. 560 business leaders ranked the most important factors for establishing real-time customer interactions, versus their success in achieving them. Let’s look at some of the factors and figures:

  • 83% of respondents included the ability to convert data into actionable insights at the optimal time, while only 22% admitted seeing success
  • 80% of respondents included the ability to access data, while only 21% admitted to achieving their goals
  • 73% of respondents included the ability to access and use all available data in a seamless fashion, while only 18% admitted being successful achieving it
  • 64% of respondents included the ability to predict, optimize, and forecast using trusted algorithms, while only 19% admitted being successful achieving it
  • 59% of respondents included the ability to incorporate results back into updated algorithms for closed-loop marketing, while only 14% admitted being successful achieving it.

These figures explain the inherent gap between the brand-customer experience. To bridge the gap, and to create a direct path to their customers, brands need to harness customer context and create a contextualized marketing strategy. To execute the strategy, they must have a system of insight and engagement, the people to operate it, and the supportive processes in place.

Integrate, incorporate, generate

The power of context lies in the ability to transform marketing campaigns from static to interactive, minimize broad targeting in favor of personalized engagements, and exceed customers’ expectations in terms of efficacy and value overspend.

HBR mapped three capabilities needed to dominate contextualized real-time marketing:

  • Unified customer data platform – Integrate a system that assembles the data from its many sources into a single, complete and consistent customer view, and then share the result with additional relevant systems.
  • AI-driven self-generated analytics and recommendations – Incorporate insights on customers to truly understand what is motivating customer behavior.
  • Contextual interactions – Using real-time engagements, generate dynamic hyper-personalized customer journeys that influence the customer’s behavior, driving them to perform desired actions.

As brands move beyond traditional campaign execution, they must integrate technologies that help them understand the customer’s contextual requirements, orchestrate the message delivery, and test, measure and optimize.

The insight-to-interaction cycle

To capture the most accurate customer context, brands should constantly enrich their 360° customer view and strengthen areas in the customer journey that lack information. Brands can achieve this transparency by adding new real-time interaction points.

Tracking real-time activity is a supplementary data layer that takes contextual marketing to the next level. By recording on-site and in-app activity of individual users in realtime and turning the raw activity inputs into actionable insights, brands get a higher-resolution customer segmentation used to deliver a more engaging customer experience. A true ace in customer context is Amazon. When a user adds a kitchen appliance to her cart, she gets different types of recommendations: complementary goods –for other products from the same category and highly rated alternatives. When the user visits the books category, Amazon highlights the Cookbook, Food & Wine category – an interaction that matches the user’s in-the-moment context.

In-the-moment interactions must consider the user demographics, behavioral and transactional activity where potential customers are in their buyer journey, their preferences, search query history, browsing behavior, etc.

Data collected at each interaction point will ideally loop back to the operating system – analyzing results and generating new insights, testing, and tweaking – a loop in which underperforming marketing actions and tactics are optimized and/or replaced quickly to maximize performance.

A more relevant customer experience

The art of conversation is still possible in the age of digital disruption. Today’s customers are savvier and are better than ever at filtering their marketing messages, but they’ll be happier to share their preferences with brands, if in return, they’ll receive a relevant customer experience that suits their current context.

Brands that create a contextualized experience using real-time tracked data and engagement will be rewarded with continuous cycles of effective customer interactions with increased revenue, retention, enhanced customer experience, and business growth.

Listen to our webinar

We conferred all that was discussed here and much more on our recent webinar. Listen here: Driving Engagement with Contextual Marketing.

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