By Renate van der Vaart, Customer Experience Specialist & Sitecore MVP
The marketing world is rapidly changing, and so is the behaviour of your customers. In the last couple of years, we have all been told that if we want to build relationships with our customers, then content marketing is the way to go. But if EVERYBODY has great content on their platforms, is content still enough to build a relationship? How can you be sure you are distinctive enough?
Our partner, Sitecore, asked these questions when we started working together. Sitecore’s philosophy is based on Context Marketing: giving your content the right context. And I could not help wondering, is Context Marketing the next big thing in digital marketing? In my opinion, it is.
What is Context Marketing? It’s bringing together three digital pillars to successfully integrate content with your data. Let me walk you through it.
Pillar 1: Content Management
Content management is all about bringing the relevant message to your customer. That is easier said than done, because how do you know what the right message is? My answer: look at your data and step into the shoes of your customer. Once you know what he is looking for, you can combine this with one of your brand’s stories. For example, if you are a content marketer working with consumer brands, then you need to:
- Define a content strategy - what do you want to achieve with your content?
- Create the content and give it context by linking it to customer needs, and your data and brand story.
- Manage and publish – check and adjust the content, and get it approved and published.
- Evaluate - check that the content meets your goals and aligns with your business KPIs.
Pillar 2: Omni-channel Automation
This pillar is all about connecting more deeply with your customers. Start again by analysing your data and looking at your customers’ behaviour. Which channels are they visiting, what are they doing there, and what content are they consuming? Whatever channel they visit, it is important to provide your customers with consistent, relevant messaging and look and feel, so they do not feel disconnected from their journey. Use data to infer visitor intent and use personalisation rules to provide relevant content and calls-to-action.
For example, on your platform, you recruit customers to subscribe to your newsletter. But customers who already have a subscription to your newsletter also visit your platform. So if a customer comes to your platform from a ‘read more’ button in the newsletter, it seems strange to show them a call-to-action that asks them to sign up for a newsletter subscription. So instead, you should show them you know them, based on the data in their profile. Serve them calls-to-action that highlight their previous behaviour and the channel they are coming from. This will give your customer a more personalised and relevant experience. Think here of a call-to-action that invites them to read a similar article, or invites them to provide feedback as a ‘loyal subscriber’.
Pillar 3: Contextual Intelligence
The third pillar in Context Marketing is Contextual Intelligence. This is about making your customer feel that he is an individual person and that you as a brand listen to his needs in real time. So he is not just one of many customers on your platform: you are there just for him. On this basis, Contextual Intelligence can only work when you use the data you have collected from his past behaviour and his current needs.
Here’s an example: a customer lands on an article page on your platform and reads the article. The article page also contains a default call-to-action, for example a link to your contact service centre, with a message that ‘they are always there for you’. The page also offers links to relevant pages, so he clicks to the next page within the same theme. On this page, the contact centre call-to-action can be already a little bit more specific, based on his current behaviour. The further he clicks within the same themes, age bracket or relevant products, the better you can adjust the contact centre calls-to-action. This gives the customer the feeling that you are listening to him, and have relevant information to share. The call-to-action can change from ‘they are always there for you’, to ‘our service centre can answer your questions about healthy eating’, to ‘Did you know we’ve got an upcoming event about how to cook healthier meals? Reach out to our service centre to find out more’.
I believe that combining these three pillars together will give you the best of all possibilities in digital marketing. The glue between these three pillars is data. So the first step to Context Marketing should be to make your marketing data-driven. I totally believe in this philosophy. Whilst content is still king, it’s just not that powerful without context!