Everyone agrees that more relevant marketing generates better results. But what does “more relevant marketing” mean in practice? It means delivering the right content through the right channel at the right time – with appropriate messaging, customized for individual prospects and optimized for wherever they happen to be in their buying journey. This is much more easily said than done, but it has become table stakes in today’s omni-channel, digitally-connected marketing and selling environment. Context is the key to achieving this, hence the term “contextual relevance.”
Today, there are innumerable places where customers and prospects can engage with your brand: on your website or social media community, while searching on Google, when they talk with consultants or opinion leaders, through your contact center, during a visit to your store, or elsewhere as they research your products/services and those of your competition. Your challenge is to meet your customers/prospects where they are, with content that recognizes what channel they are in and where they are in the buying cycle. This is what is meant by context, and context is critical to relevance, in two ways:
- Knowing the customer: Context enables marketers to understand the customer and the journey better, and to understand how to interpret customer behavior. New personalization technology does a great job of interpreting data to drive more relevant content to customers. However, marketers still need to know what content to create to drive these relevant experiences.
- Creating appropriate content: Behavior models such as customer buying cycles help provide a framework to contextualize customer activities, so marketers can create better content for personalization engines to deliver. For example, in a retail behavior model, there could be different types of customers (1st time buyers, repeat buyers, and loyal customers) who might exhibit similar behaviors (e.g., adding a product to a shopping cart). However, the kind of content you would share with a first-time customer is likely different than a repeat or loyal customer.
The buyer’s journey is non-linear and can move back-and-forth from channel to channel as buyers assess their needs and explore their options. As buyers move through their journey, what is relevant to them changes. In fact, it changes at each step. It is also impacted by roles, relationships, time, location, knowledge, weather, business processes, sentiment, intent, digital acumen, and other factors. This is particularly challenging in our increasingly digital world, where a customer’s attention span is minimal, and competition is but a click away. That said, it is essential to know your customers and the context(s) within which you engage with them so well that you are always there when they need you.
ISM would be happy to discuss contextual relevance developments impacting your business in more detail with you over a call. You can also choose a good time here: https://calendly.com/
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