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November 30, 2016

Why are traditional marketing efforts failing to initiate meaningful conversations with the empowered global consumer? Sales or advertisement initiatives, reaching every customer in the same shape and form, are rapidly losing their place in business circles and are being replaced by sharper, smarter personalized marketing efforts.

Personalized marketing has emerged as one of the top three concerns of technology, business and marketing professionals in 2016 with 68% of companies surveyed by Forrester prioritizing personalized experiences.

What Is Contextual and Segment-of-One Marketing?
The current generation of customers demand personal messaging that communicates to them as individuals and caters to their immediate needs and preferences. The business environment too, has changed in favor of personalized marketing with the proliferation of smartphones, organizations growing online presence and introduction of sophisticated data capture and analysis technologies.

With the right tools and context backing them, most marketers are depending on segmentation to personalize customer experiences. However, instead of just this, marketers need to rely on contextual signals to ensure real-time personalization based on customer requirements at the point they choose to engage with the brand.

So, where is the industry in terms of contextual marketing?

An analyst survey of consumers, marketers, and advertisers across the United States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa revealed that only 16% of marketers presently have the capabilities to identify customer intent and launch real-time, behavior-based marketing across touch points. Of this group of marketers, a prominent example is the one of the largest coffee maker. By combining customers beverage preferences, payments and transaction history and demographics with the implementation of geo location technology, the company has developed the capabilities to effectively capture customer intent and deliver personalized messages.

As leading players buy into the contextual marketing paradigm, other companies are likely to follow suit in order to remain competitive. To make this marketing approach work for them, they will have to ensure that their messages, content and offers pass the test of relevancy, appropriateness, timeliness, consistency, convenience and frequency.

To further fool-proof their approach, companies will need to also consider a concept that is closely related to contextual marketing segment-of-one marketing, which basically takes personalization down to the individual or segment of one. By doing so, they can drive revenues, garner customer loyalty, create competitive advantage and develop ideal products for the crowded, competitive marketplace.

Building a Contextual Marketing Engine

The first step to implementing a contextual marketing strategy is to place customer information in a single database. This will enhance overall data usability and help marketers gain real-time insights into customer intent such that they can act on it immediately through well-crafted messages.

Following this, marketers will need to invest in technologies that can perform data management and analysis. They will also have to implement solutions that can conduct real-time interaction management (RTIM) to deliver marketing communications and experiences to customers the way they want them, where they want them and at a time they want them.

Equipped with the right technologies, marketers can enter a symbiotic relationship with customers customers gain from relevant, meaningful brand communications, while organizations enjoy quicker conversions, heightened expenditure and continued loyalty.

2016 Investment Priorities

Content and data solutions are poised to become the most crucial investments for personalization in 2016. Of these top-two investment categories, organizations appetite seems to be stronger for content personalization.

Approximately 75% of surveyed organizations applying personalization look to personalize their website content whereas 55% do so for promotions and product offers, 49% for product recommendations and 44% for alerts and reminders. Although there is currently limited interest in personalizing content for mobile apps (32%), the forthcoming years will see this area receive more attention.

In the realm of software investment for personalization, content still rules the roost. While the most popular solution among surveyed organizations is web content management, email marketing and tag management are also strong contenders. With these investments backing them, modern marketers can look to virtually partner with customers to re-define experience.

Raja oversees marketing initiatives for three key businesses at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Manufacturing, Life Sciences, and Energy and Resources. He is involved in the creation of global marketing campaigns and efficient models to drive brand awareness and sales opportunities. His key focus areas include value messaging, branding and visibility, driving thought leadership, and digital transformation initiatives. An alumni of the Tata Group Executive leadership program at the Ross School of Business, he has a Masters in International Relations from India and a Masters in International Business from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at University of Kentucky.


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