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Understanding contextual marketing

“Society is sitting on a technological tipping point. The convergence of big data, social listening, and integrated tracking tools help us see our world, and each other, in ways we could scarcely imagine a decade ago: we can now see each other in context.” – Megan Lockward

I was talking to my better half the other day (Head of Labs at a prestigious digital agency) and we got to discussing contextual computing…I know what you’re thinking, our long winter nights must just fly by! But, hear me out. I will share an example with you and you can see how it got my mind racing.

Google is currently working on an “Easy Button” for use on its wearable devices. The button takes the context you’re in and delivers notifications from your android device to your Google glasses or Google Smart watch. These notifications are based on where you are and what you’re doing, and you can then action this with one tap. Currently this would be simply showing you text messages when they arrive on your phone but in the future could include “Buy a bottle of water” when you’re stood next to a vending machine on a warm day or “Check ticket availability” when walking past a theatre showing a film you talked about wanting to see. Pretty impressive stuff.

The last few years have seen huge leaps in the capabilities of our devices. The ability to collate situational and environmental information about people, places and things has meant we are able to anticipate user needs and proactively deliver relevant offers and content through these devices. All good right? But what are we doing to adapt our marketing techniques?

How are organisations looking at utilizing the same idea and becoming contextual marketers?

According to Hubspot context marketing is defined as:

“The practice of personalising your business to your audience based on who they are and what they want, need, or do. Rather than “one-size-fits-all”

So how can social media provide the “context” needed for contextual B2B marketing?


Social media directly supports the ability to carry out real-time conversations, giving you the opportunity to gain insight into the customer and so is ideally placed to be one of the personalising touch points.

Built on the foundation of listening, a context strategy takes the content, channel and tools and fits to the specific audience/customer. It delivers the right content, at the right time of day to the right channel. Social media needs to be the ears on the ground. It should be building a matrix of what works for who and when. Social media roles need to evolve to ensure that the people watching the platforms are instantly recognising patterns of interactions.

Social persona building

Analysing the patterns of people’s interactions can help us to create social personas. By taking into account not only the content they consume but also the previously mentioned variables too we can “score” audiences on social channels and develop strategies targeted at these personas. Eventually we should be aiming to create a totally honed and personalised strategy.

Relationships Vs. Brand Loyalty

Social media has changed the way companies interact with their customers and audiences. By understanding and targeting people in such a focused way organisations should be able to build up a personal relationship that leads to guiding the customer through the sales funnel as a known contact. Contextual marketing will become about the relationship the brand works to build with the customer rather than the relationship a customer has with the brand.  

The importance of this ideology also highlights nicely the topics shared in my last blog (Social Media – A prediction for 2017). Context marketing is a shift in mindset and a realisation that this style of marketing needs to respect the customer’s behavior and accessibility. Done badly and aggressively I fear we may end up with a Dave Eggers-esq ‘Circle’ scenario (if you haven’t read his book, The Circle then please do) whereby all our actions are taken and used for marketing, but done sympathetically I believe we have an opportunity to harness the technology around this and really connect with customers.

Navigating the contextual marketing place may seem time consuming and daunting but speaking to experts at companies like First Base Communications can give you the chance to bounce ideas and develop innovative strategies that are right for you, so get in touch if you’d like move your marketing strategy forward.