Six Ways Contextualization Helps Capture Customers’ Interest

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Context has become everything to the retail shopping experience. It’s no longer substantial to simply paste a generic “20% off” sign on a store window, or send an email announcing a common sale. The modern consumer now only pays attention when something matches his or her unique preferences, needs, and lifestyle. That is where contextualization succeeds in propelling marketing efforts to a whole new level.

As a concept, contextualization refers to determining the conditions in which something occurs and understanding the meaning behind it. Factors such as shopping habits, demographics, location, time, weather, price, purchase behavior, and even device type all play a role in successfully piquing the interest of customers.

Whereas “the customer is always right” adage may have reigned for decades in US retail spheres, the current dictum falls more along the lines of “the customer is always connected.”

Here are six benefits of using contextualization.

1. Contextualization leads to marketing in the right place at the right time

Let’s say you’re a shoe retailer in Florida wanting to send out a promotional offer for flip flops. If you send out a blanket email to the whole of your database, it may not be reaching the people who would take advantage of your offer.

For example, if it’s February and your customer Amy has moved to Chicago, flip flops would not be her ideal online purchase during a flurry of snow storms and cold weather. If, however, you’re using contextualized data to determine which promotions to send to whom, you’ll know that an offer for warm, fuzzy boots will be going out to Amy in the right place at the right time —and she’ll be much more likely to use it.

2. Contextualization ensures relevant communication

Much like marketing in the right place at the right time, contextualization also ensures pertinent messages are reaching the appropriate customers. If you’re sending out a restaurant offer for a “half-price delicious steak dinner” to your entire clientele, Susan, the vegetarian, won’t be enticed by your offer simply because it’s not relevant to her lifestyle.

Moreover, receiving a picture of a red, juicy steak might be rather unappetizing to Susan and even offend her, encouraging her look elsewhere the next time she’s deciding where to eat for dinner.

Knowing your customers’ preferences and interests increases the likelihood that your marketing efforts will bring return because you won’t be blindly pitching anything to everyone. Your messages will be focused and on point, befitting the people getting them.

3. Contextualization enables the creation of unique experiences for each customer

A major new trend in customer-business relations shows that Millennials—a share of the population with $ 200 billion in annual spending power—are willing to trade their personal information for custom experiences. They’ll give their mobile phone number to a traffic-detecting app like Waze, but they expect any mobile alerts to be specifically relevant to their current situation and useful to their particular drive. They do not want to be bombarded by general messages or impertinent information.

In exchange for sharing their personal details, Millennials expect to be treated as individuals and understood. Contextualization helps in creating a unique experience for each singular customer.

4. Contextualization taps into omnichannel marketing

Say goodbye to the nostalgia of yesteryear when capturing all your potential customers meant having a great commercial air during the Super Bowl. Although such efforts are certainly still valuable, they’re no longer the end-all-be-all for garnering a base of customers.

Today’s consumers get marketing influences from multiple sources—from beacon-enabled texts that take into account the geolocation of a customer to Web searches. By using software that assimilates data about your customers’ behavior, preferences, and demographics across all channels, you can have a fuller picture of your customers, giving you insight about how to most effectively reach each individual.

5. Contextualization helps to predict what customers want

Contextualization helps marketers know what a customer’s next move may be before the customer even knows it herself. Perhaps browsing and purchase history indicates that your customer has bought a new home and is starting to procure items for a modern interior design motif. Predictive suggestions for household items could match both the design style and spending tier of recent purchases, delivering exactly the type of product a customer wants right to her email inbox before she’s even begun browsing for it on the Internet.

This kind of bird’s-eye view marketing puts retailers at a huge advantage of being not only on top—but ahead—of what their customers want.

6. Contextualization breeds customer engagement

When messaging is relevant to your customers’ lifestyles and applies to their specific interests, they’re more likely to engage with your brand—both online and in store. If you incorporate things that matter most to your individual customers, they’ll be more inclined to click on a link in your special email offer, join in on your company’s Twitter discussion, and visit your store… because what you’re offering resonates with their values and priorities.

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Contextualization is about appealing to the unique tastes, behaviors, and values of each individual customer. This kind of ultra-targeted messaging fundamentally captures people’s attention and serves as the key to supercharging customer-business relationships, cultivating fertile ground for long-term loyalty and brand engagement.

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The Marketer’s Secret Weapon: Web Contextualization

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Consumers today don’t just prefer customized brand interactions, they expect them.

With so much customer data available from interactions across various touchpoints, marketers are under more pressure than ever to take advantage of that data to improve customer experiences. In a recent survey, more than 60% of companies said they expect their Big Data marketing budgets to increase.

To remain competitive and cut through consumers’ personal junk filters, brands need to use customer data to deliver Web experiences designed to appeal to each customer.

Web experiences should be based on real data about customers’ context: time of day, weather, type of device, past purchasing behavior, and other information that reveals customers’ unique circumstances. Drawing on that information will create meaningful experiences and keep customers coming back.

Moreover, in a world where consumers use multiple devices throughout their engagement with brands, marketers must rise to the challenge of meeting customers where they are. Marketing success is directly linked to the ability to deliver targeted customer experiences, and brands that can keep up with each customer’s current context and needs will win brand loyalty.

Understanding Contextual Clues

The ability to deliver this type of experience lies in uncovering the contextual clues hidden within customer data, which is generated when consumers visit a brand’s Web and mobile sites, for example. Marketers need to combine that Web data with valuable customer data from other channels to paint a full picture of the customer’s context.

Organizations often make the mistake of using multiple technologies and processes to gather customer data from different sources. The downfall of this approach is that without seamlessly integrating all available knowledge about their customers, brands are not equipped to create the most relevant customer experience.

Marketers need to capture and analyze data-driven customer insights in real time and in one location if they are to offer consumers immediate and actionable options and relevant offerings tailored to the device used, time of day, language, browsing history, and other contexts.

In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, brands cannot afford to be one step behind their customers’ context. Failure to aggregate all customer data points and use them to deliver hyper-relevant Web experiences will result in a disjointed brand experience via sporadic and ineffective campaigns.

To avoid this approach, which comes off as irrelevant one-off campaigns to consumers, brands need to focus on these three main areas.

1. Multi-channel experiences

The customer journey spans multiple devices at different times and places. The key is to maintain consistency across devices and types of interactions, regardless of how complex each customer’s path may be. This includes maintaining a consistent brand image across touchpoints as well as ensuring that each interaction builds directly off the last, even if it is taking place on a new device.

2. Global Web-content management

There is much more to effective global Web presence than simply translating websites. Marketers need to consider local relevance and address both language and culture to create a truly contextual customer experience.

3. Rich media and video

Video and rich media marketing have become vital for engaging audiences. Visual impact can make all the difference between conveying information and creating an experience, an emotion and a desire to act.

Don’t underestimate the power of compelling visuals for engaging your customers… and don’t forget that the aesthetics of visuals should be consistent across channels and geared towards the customer’s context.

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By taking an outside-in approach, marketers can deliver experiences that match the preferences and unique context of each individual visitor. Impersonal, irrelevant Web campaigns will negatively impact customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and the bottom line.

Context cannot be ignored. As consumer demands grow and attention spans dwindle, using the Web to serve up the right experience to the right customer at the right time has never been more important.

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