Big data remains a popular buzzword in marketing circles, yet studies suggest that merely 25 percent of C-suite leaders are leveraging big data tools to do their jobs. Still, no marketer wants to be left clinging to an outdated strategy, and there is a clear trend toward devoting more resources to predictive and advanced analytics.
Truth be told, finding actionable context amid the avalanche of information requires practice and planning. Forrester Research's revealing April 2014 report, "The Power Of Customer Context," shows how companies like Nike and Mini USA are transcending traditional advertising campaigns to drive deeper engagement and interact in real-time with individual consumers.
For CMOs and marketing leaders, context-driven marketing represents a philosophical shift away from campaigns and transactions and toward personal interactions and value exchanges. The Forrester report details how marketers can embrace a strategy built on customer context through the creation of a contextual marketing engine, meaning that each time a customer engages with a business, the marketer gathers new data to determine the best personalized hook for subsequent engagement.
This approach challenges some common marketing assumptions, but it also builds on the success of technologies likely already in place, such as marketing automation. "Contextual marketing engines create sticky, highly engaging environments for customer interaction and yield proprietary data that cannot be replicated by traditional marketing methods or third-party data sources," writes Forrester's Carlton A. Doty. "The results translate into unprecedented levels of customer engagement, increased revenue and better product experiences."
"The Power of Customer Context" explains in detail how to create a contextual marketing engine that purrs. Here are four of the biggest takeaways:
1. Rethink your funnel focus
In an effort to break away from an outdated "feeding the funnel" approach, the Forrester report encourages better collaboration between marketing and customer experience teams. Breaking down these silos will allow businesses to place renewed focus on post-purchase interactions, while also ensuring consistency of message.
2. Commit to data on a daily basis
Marketers should stop simply using analytics retroactively and take advantage of predictive and real-time analytics. For example, emerging tools can help determine the next best interaction for a customer who has complained on social media.
3. Go Agile
Marketers should take inspiration from development teams and embrace an Agile mindset. Use data not just to conduct postmortems on expired campaigns but rather to react and revise in real-time. Slow-burning projects like annual website redesigns should be shelved in favor of smaller and timelier releases.
4. Use the tools you already have
Before rushing out to buy another marketing technology platform, marketers should start with the tools they've already mastered. For both B2B and B2C businesses, marketing automation solutions and web analytics can be repurposed to address the new demands of contextual marketing.
For a more intensive explanation of customer context—and its potential to reshape traditional marketing—download the full Forrester report: