CONTEXTUAL MARKETING MEETS BLOCKCHAIN: THE ART OF HACKING THE CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT GAME
Published on December 23, 2020
Go digital or go bankrupt.
While it might sound harsh, that’s the stark reality that most businesses have confronted in the past year as the global economy continues to weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, rampant digitalisation has taken place with consumers spending more time on their personal devices than ever. In response, brands have had to conform to the pressure of adopting a myriad of communication channels to stay connected with their customers. While these channels have certainly offered increased exposure to target audiences, it doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher rate of prospect-to-customer conversion.
With the average consumer bombarded by up to 10,000 ads daily, how can brands form long-lasting, meaningful relationships while ensuring a seamless customer experience? Contextual marketing, that’s how.
The case for contextual
Contextual marketing pertains to the circumstances in which content is received. This context is what gives meaning and relevance to the content presented to your target audience, and it can come from a wide range of sources:
- The weather
- The time of the day
- A customer’s occupation
- A customer’s knowledge of your brand
When engaging in contextual marketing, brands try to gain a full picture of the audience persona and what they might be looking for at a specific point in time in order to serve content that would be most helpful and relevant to them. In a world saturated with information, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, with “irrelevance” making the top three reasons why people block ads. Thus, what truly differentiates brands from one another is the ability to deliver a seamless customer journey through content distinguished by its relevance, often personalised in relation to the context in which it was viewed.
The strategic deployment of content at the right time and at the right place can help a consumer accomplish a task at hand—be it the completion of a purchase or leaving a review. This can help to guide prospective customers to the next touchpoint in their consumer journey that can go even beyond the digital realm, such as visiting a retail store or contacting a customer service line offline.
Meanwhile, with most brands now adopting an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, the purchasing journey now takes place across various devices, platforms, and locations. With 86 percent of consumers switching between at least two channels when they shop, they’ve come to expect this transition to take place effortlessly—even when transitioning between an on-device and an in-person shopping experience.
Context is thus the crux of seamless consumer discovery and engagement as it helps marketers determine which message to deliver, when to deliver it, and how to deliver it. As irrelevant messages do more harm than good to customer relationships, brands would do well to ensure that all content is sufficiently tailored and personalised when engaging with consumers.
The importance of identifiers
At its core, the building blocks of a successful contextual marketing campaign ultimately rests on high-fidelity identifiers built out of consumer data. Brands need to be able to connect all the data points to construct a single and unified view of every customer in order to engage with them meaningfully as they move from one touchpoint to another.
Over time, marketers have relied on third-party cookies as well as data points derived from closed ecosystems — such as those offered by walled gardens — to access the high-fidelity data required to yield effective marketing campaigns. However, the reliance on these two systems is far from optimal or even sustainable, for that matter. Beyond the upcoming demise of third-party cookies in 2022, many marketers have also found that data from walled gardens are inadequate for effective consumer engagement and that these walled gardens fail to offer the needed metrics and transparency to measure campaign success.
At Aqilliz, we’ve been long-term advocates of selecting the right type of high-quality data and leveraging the right emerging technologies to manage them effectively in order to ensure a holistic customer experience.
By taking on an all-rounded approach, this refers to how customer identities are built, processed, and stored behind the scenes. While many consumers are willing to trade personal data for convenience and personalisation, they also expect that these data are safeguarded and used ethically. With over 91 percent of shoppers concerned that their personal data might be abused, it’s imperative that marketers look beyond personalisation and start investing in the needed safeguards to protect consumer identities.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it alone
To truly elevate the consumer discovery and engagement process, it’s high time brands thought outside of organisational boundaries to transform their contextual marketing strategy. Instead of confining themselves to their own local database, brands can eliminate data silos by collaborating with other players to pool high-quality data together and activate their targeting activities based on contexts constructed from these data points.
By migrating to an independent, interoperable platform where consumer data can be shared securely among brands and publishers, marketers can gain access to first-party, ethically obtained consumer data and accurately target even potential customers who have not patronised them before. To ensure data compliance, the platform needs to be hosted on a blockchain to allow data to be injected and shared transparently across all parties.
While the idea of investing in novel solutions can seem daunting, it’s clear that our existing foundations for contextual marketing are no longer meeting the mark. Why rely on those tech giants, when you can rely on each other?
In sum, the future of contextual marketing relies on the application of high-quality, first-party data obtained and activated in an ethical manner. In looking to the future, the onus is on marketers to collaborate towards a more sustainable and efficient marketing ecosystem. Once consumers can truly feel that they’re being treated as more than a KPI or a sales target, brands will certainly be rewarded with their loyalty.