SmartFocus CMO Talks Success of Contextualized Marketing

CMO of SmartFocus Contextualization Gives Boost to MarketersThe following is a guest contributed post by Jess Stephens, CMO of SmartFocus.

The success of contextualized marketing can be boiled down to one main asset: the capability to identify and give your customers exactly what they want.

Contextualization as a concept is simple enough: it offers a perspective based on the conditions and meanings surrounding something. But in practice, it requires factoring in shopping habits, demographics, preferences, time, location, price, past purchases, and behavior.

These are all things that unconsciously play a role in a shopper’s purchase decisions. Digital contextualization serves to bring these factors to the surface, using them to optimize the customer-brand experience.

Here’s why:

  1. Consumers are Always Connected

Today’s “perpetually connected consumer” (Forrester 2013) seeks to live at the epicenter of information exchange. Desiring a powerful sense of relevancy and desperate not to miss out, consumers jump from different devices, disparate social media platforms, and various information sources to get exactly what they want when they want it. Because they won’t wait around, it’s critical to make sure that the information you deliver is coming at the right time, in the right place, and based on appropriate context that will lead customers to engage with your business.

  1. Millennials Trade Personal Information for Personalized Experiences

Millennials believe marketing should be a dialogue between brand and consumer. In exchange for sharing their personal details, they expect to be treated as individuals and to be understood. Responsible for over $200 billion in annual spending power, they’re comfortable with publicly evangelizing brands on social media who get it right as well as shaming those who regrettably miss the mark. Millennials undoubtedly represent the current economic goldmine, and it’s crucial that marketers understand how to engage these young, but oh-so-relevant, market players in ways that are meaningful to them.

  1. The Future of Shopping Is Omni-Channel

Long gone are the days when shopping required customers to walk into a store to make a purchase; and recently gone is a time when online shopping necessitated a computer monitor. Now, shopping happens from everywhere: brick-and-mortar stores, laptops, TV screens, mobile phones, tablets. . . and, now, even watches! Combining contextualized consumer behavior data from the multitude of these devices is key to focused marketing, resulting in unified sales and a seamless buyer experience.

  1. The More You Know About Your Customer, the Better Your Relationship Can Be

Relevance is of utmost significance when it comes to marketing to today’s modern consumers. Whether it’s demography, location, weather, lifestyle, or product relevance, contextualization allows you to provide appropriate communications to your customers. For example, a “kids go free on holiday coupon” wouldn’t likely appeal to college-age women on vacation; a 2-for-1 today-only dining offer in Austin wouldn’t do your patron any good when she’s traveling in Chicago; a flip-flop sale wouldn’t suit someone living on the East Coast during winter; a “half-off” steak special doesn’t appeal to a vegan — and might even offend him; and a 50% off invite a specific hat doesn’t work if your customer just bought that same hat from your store. Contextualized marketing allows businesses to be “in the know” about their customers and be recognized as a company that values what’s going on their customers’ lives.

  1. Webrooming Is Where Retail’s Future Winners Will Dominate

By 2017, webrooming will result in $1.8 trillion in sales whereas eCommerce sales are estimated to hit $370 billion. Webrooming — whereby consumers research products online and then actually purchase products in-store — indicates that customers want a more tailored, personable experience. Contextualization offers the bridge between online and offline customer activity to provide useful insights as to when and what your customers are interested in buying, paving the way for a smooth and easy transaction process.

  1. Content May Be King, But Mobile is Definitely Queen

According to FitForCommerce,“By placing mobile at the center of the omni-channel strategy, retailers and brands will enable a new level of interaction, engagement, conversation, and loyalty. And revenue.” With the application of beacons for mobile devices, companies can send real-time messages to customer’s smartphones when they are in the vicinity of a particular store or in a specific section of a shop. These messages range from special offers tailored to the individual based on purchase and browsing behavior to sending a welcome message telling the customer how much they’re appreciated. This kind of instant communication between brand and customer is rapidly changing — and enhancing — the landscape of brand loyalty.

Perhaps to society’s surprise — and possibly delight — the art of conversation is still possible in an increasingly digital age. Typical consumers don’t like to be “marketed at,” but they are indeed willing to tell marketers what they want and when they want it — in return for better service. The companies who contextualize their marketing will be leaps ahead of those who don’t simply because they can deliver the kind of service their customers desire.