What is context? According to Merriam-Webster, context is “the situation in which something happens or the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens.” We’ve been using it since late Middle English speakers adapted the Latin contextus, from con (together) and texere (to weave). For marketers, context means understanding attitudes, behaviors, and preferences to address the requirements of individual customers in their moments of need.
It is critical for marketers to embrace customer context. Why? Winning in the age of the customer depends on the interactions that people have with your brand, and compelling customer experiences materialize only when your firm understands its customers and anticipates their needs. The context of all those interactions determines whether customers will engage and, more importantly, transact with your brand again. Marketing’s job is to harness the power of customer context to create a repeatable cycle of interactions, drive deeper engagement, and learn more about the customer in the process.
At Forrester’s recent annual Marketing Leadership Summit in Shanghai on March 25, I gave a presentation focusing on ways to build a contextual marketing engine and propel customers to the next best interaction. Key takeaways included:
Heavy mobile users in China are generating many new customer contexts. Heavy usage of mobile devices in China has changed the ways that people interact with enterprises. Today’s customers don’t just interface with brands via customer response, customer purchase, and customer services; more commonly, it happens outside of those campaigns. The context of all of those interactions determines whether a customer will engage — and, more importantly, transact — with the brand again.
Contextual interactions are changing marketing in China. Early adopters like Didi Taxi use contextual marketing from Day One and provide persistent incentives to engage with both providers and customers. Wanda Group, China’s leading business real estate company, acknowledges customer contextual interactions in its shopping malls across the nation and provides merchants with mobile moments to improve the effectiveness of their targeting.
Last month, we had one of our best Forrester Forums For Marketing Leaders that I've been to, and I've been to all of them. With an on-site audience of nearly 1,000 marketing professionals, I really enjoyed hearing from many of you -- our valued clients -- about your thoughts on the need for new approaches to marketing. Next week, I hope our European clients will find our latest thinking on customer context and utility marketing as valuable as your peers in North America did. Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders in Europe is finally here, and I look forward to seeing you in London this Tuesday, May 13. Make sure you check out our latest research reports that go in-depth on the event theme, "Beyond The Campaign":