eBook Remove the Guesswork from Contextual Marketing

Contextual Marketing involves delivering the right marketing message, to the right consumer, at the right time and in the right channel, to influence the customer journey and drive desired outcomes.

How Smart Are Your Marketing Programs?

Marketing has a distinct role in the era of the empowered customer. Gone are the days when marketers were solely expected to raise brand awareness and support revenue growth through digital or in-store sales. Today’s marketers play a vital role connecting consumers to the brand. How do they do that? By regularly monitoring and analyzing changes in customer behavior and expectations to deliver real-time marketing campaigns. Such responsiveness to consumer needs strengthens organizations’ ability to influence customer journeys. Because these campaigns are ‘triggered’ by consumer actions and behaviors, they require an understanding of the context of customer interactions and the message they deliver must be tailored accordingly.


The Business Case for Contextual Marketing

Managing customer journeys is complex for most organizations. Aberdeen’s study, CEM Executive’s Agenda 2016: Aligning the Business Around the Customer (May 2016), shows that 58% of businesses currently use at least eight channels to interact with customers. By comparison, Aberdeen’s April 2012 study, Customer Experience Management: Using the Power of Analytics to Optimize Customer Delight, revealed that 58% of companies were using closer to four channels. In other words, over the past four years companies have virtually doubled the number of channels they use to interact with customers.


Marketers looking to establish and nurture close ties with customers must master communications across all channels. This means delivering the right marketing message, to the right consumer, at the right time and in the right channel, to influence the customer journey and drive desired outcomes. Remember, each customer has preferences when it comes to researching products, comparing prices, and making purchases. Brands must know (or anticipate) these preferences in context to trigger the appropriate marketing messages. When companies fail to understand the context, they run the risk of delivering messages to consumers who might not be ready to act. This is not the way to achieve the desired marketing results. Figure 1 shows that brands delivering targeted, contextual marketing messages achieve superior results.


Figure 1: The ROI of Contextual Marketing

How to Get Contextual Marketing to Work

One of the top reasons companies struggle with implementing a data-driven marketing program is the lack of a single view of customer data. Marketers capture data across multiple channels, but the systems storing this data are not adequately integrated. As
a result, marketers end up with an incomplete view of the interaction history for any given customer. This negatively impacts their ability to personalize conversations or ensure consistency of messaging between different touch-points. Without a single view of customer data, companies run the risk of providing their marketers with inaccurate insights. As a result, those marketers who do not enjoy a single customer view will struggle to consistently deliver truly contextual messages.


1. Optimize the Use of Data.

To minimize these risks when establishing a contextual marketing program, companies must ensure that the structured and unstructured data captured across all channels is properly managed and integrated into one digital marketing platform. Integrating data into one platform enables a unified view of the customer journey and thereby allows your marketing team to better track and manage customer conversations, wherever and whenever they take place. Figure 2 shows that marketers effectively delivering contextual marketing programs are indeed 94% more likely to have already achieved such integration.



Figure 2: Optimizing the Use of Data in Contextual Marketing



2. Convert Your Data into Actionable Insights.

Once you have established a solid data foundation, the next step is using analytics to convert that data into actionable insights. This involves both understanding how your business captures data across multiple channels and selecting the right tools for analysis of the data collected. For example, a brand might struggle with understanding if a particular product is indeed profitable. The analysis might reveal that stand-alone purchases of the product is not very high, however consumers buying certain high-demand items almost always add this product to their basket as an additional item – and hence raise the average order value. Such analytics-enabled decision making allows the brand to better position this product by displaying it as ‘you may also like’ content on the ecommerce site and emails to consumers buying related products.

Identifying and implementing the right analytical tool will allow your business to conduct a key activity highlighted in Figure 2 above: determining ‘at-risk’ consumers. Companies define ‘at-risk’ consumers in different ways. For some, it refers to customers abandoning items in a shopping cart for a certain amount of time. For others, it might mean customers who typically purchase a product based on a certain pattern, but suddenly stops following this pattern. Marketers that tailor their analysis to reflect such distinctions can target both ‘at-risk’ customers as high-value clients, loyalty card members, and so on.

3. Leverage Customer Behavior Predictions

Use of segmentation and analytics technologies help marketers map distinct customer journeys and better understand the context of customer interactions. Coupled with predictive analytics, such analysis helps companies predict the next best action needed to direct each journey towards the desired end. On this point, Figure 3 shows that companies with contextual marketing programs are far more likely to also have predictive models of customer behavior that help them determine and deliver the next best marketing message.


Figure 3: Prediction Leads to Success in Contextual Marketing

Predicting customer behavior is valuable. However, that value is only realized when marketers act on their predictive insights. To do that, marketers need the technical capabilities that will allow them to execute real-time context-relevant, trigger-based campaigns. Marketing automation and campaign management tools can help marketers to bridge this gap. These technologies also enable marketers to accurately measure campaign results. When marketers can measure the impact of each campaign, they can better plan for and fine-tune future activities. Companies with contextual marketing programs are 58% more likely to have such measurement capabilities.


Key Takeaways

Gaining customer mind-and wallet-share requires modern marketers to use context to their advantage. Being able to do so depends on developing a precise understanding of consumer intent and behavior, and using this understanding to deliver targeted, contextual marketing messages. While accomplishing this goal is no easy endeavor, Aberdeen research shows that 39% of brands already have contextual marketing programs in place. As a result, marketers across these businesses enjoy far superior annual growth in company revenue and customer spend. If you struggle to achieve similar results through your marketing programs, we highly recommend you follow the lead of these savvy marketers, establish a solid foundation for contextual marketing, and utilize a sophisticated marketing digital marketing platform to enable you to do this. By better understanding and influencing the customer journey, you will not only develop deeper relationships with your customers, you will allow your business to flourish.


Topic Contextualization

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