The phrase context marketing was first coined in the Seventies when most of today’s marketers, if not still a glint in their father’s eye, were certainly running around in school uniform.
Much like many things in that decade, it was then promptly forgotten about. But recently the phrase has come back in vogue, yet is this just a case of the marketing industry remarketing itself…again? Before I go any further, maybe we should define the term context marketing – the best definition I have found states:
“Context marketing uses known qualities of your customers or prospects to deliver content in such a way as to make it natural, noteworthy and useful,” Kevin Jorgensen, IMR Corporation.
The marketing world has been combining demographic, lifestyle and transactional information for decades to try reach marketing nirvana and provide the well-trodden phrase of “the right message to the right person at the right time”. But the focus has been on content rather than context as the true real-time contextual information has been difficult to act on.
There has always a context to marketing, however, until recently, that context has been driven by the organisation rather than the consumer. What the company wishes to sell, what the company wants its consumers to know, what the company thinks its customer profiles are and what the company’s marketing budget is – we worked with the information we had.
But there has been a change. The adoption of smart devices has surpassed that of any other technology in history. Consumers have embraced these devices ten times faster than personal computers in the Eighties, three times faster than the adoption of social media and networking and twice as fast as the Internet boom in the Nineties. This rapid adoption has resulted in a deluge of data and a much more demanding consumer.
The data created by smart devices has given us the context we were missing – marketers can now understand their consumer’s context and engage with them accordingly. On the other side of the coin is the so-called “smart consumer”, who understands that there is a value to their information and context. If they provide it they expect it to be used to improve their experience and to deliver timely, personalised and relevant content. Brands which don’t deliver on this expectation could soon struggle.
Through the ubiquity of smart devices, brands have the ability – with consumers’ consent – to know where their customers are, when they are engaging with their brand, where they are in proximity to the brand’s outlets, partners, or other customers and where they tend to visit over time individually, and relative to others.
We can also understand what is going on in the environment around our consumers such as flight delays, traffic jams, product availability, weather, price changes, and their local time of day. All of this new information provides the consumer’s context, while the smart device finally delivers the vehicle to actually deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.
For the first time, we have the technology to make devices cognitive, contextually and even, dare I say, emotionally aware of their human users’ needs and desires.
The technology is there, the consumers have adopted it and have raised their expectations…but are you ready to meet them?
Dee Toomey is a director of Dynamic Device Decisions