In a recent article I wrote for Wired, I stated the following: “When ‘Content is King’, ‘Context is the Kingdom’. Organizations that refuse to believe this might find themselves on the very bottom of consumers’ top brands lists.”
I didn’t say this for shock value, but more to press home the point that content travels in a sea of context, and with the reality of consumer choice, the customer is free to click away from your website. Companies need to offer contextual relevancy, in addition to differentiation of experience, when interacting with a prospect or existing client.
For SDL and our technology, context brokering is supported in all products. The reason for that is to increase the relevancy, and increasing the relevancy is intrinsically associated with the end goal of a conversion. To be contextual, the first conversion you need to do is to become known with the person and vice versa.
The main drive behind it, from an outside perspective, is that the context needs to be relevant on any device and any channel and so you have to build on the profile of an individual. Nevertheless, when we’re talking about a profile, the very important thing around that particular profile is around the person that is visiting. That’s your audience, and the audience you know or you don’t know.
From the moment you start engaging with an unknown, you can still build a profile, but you still can’t capture that, you need to attach it to something which truly identifies that particular person. The context brokering is very much gathering as much information as possible to convert that person towards somebody who is willing to become known at a time of their choosing. It might be on the first instance they land on your website or weeks later, perhaps months down the line that you finally acquire that email data point off which you can hang other contextual signals.
The complexity is not a major hurdle, because the moment that somebody is putting in an email address into your database, we know them because that is a unique handle. That email is very much associated to identifying a person. Based on the email address, you can also start enriching the data with other data you already acquired; an email address can be easily associated to the Twitter handle.
Context might be relevant because you’re walking in a certain location, a specific stretch of road that has shops and these contextual clues allow you to have a specific interaction with an individual; “Are you aware that your nearby Home Foods is having a free tasting event?” or if you step off a plane at an airport and you get a notification “Welcome, you are just 35 steps away from a great salad, present this message for 15% off.”
We identified context as a key opportunity to increase relevancy for our customers and so we do it across all products where it’s relevant to understand the context. We’re working with companies like Schneider Electric, the global energy management company, because they are transforming their customers’ web experience into more targeted and relevant multi-channel experiences.
Even if you’re anonymous, you can still be a customer
An anonymous user can still have good contextual experiences, but their journey and interaction experience is more likely to be around acquiring that key identifying data-point, usually their email address in order to close the loop. There will likely be a carrot and stick situation in play with the contextual experience of an anonymous user. Opt in and get offers, email updates, etc.
Much like using the Starbucks app on your smartphone to pay for items, and earn reward stars in their loyalty program, by using that app you are telling the brand that it is ok for them to command your attention with a notification. When they have something relevant to say or offer – the great fair exchange at work – you will welcome it, because contextual experiences are often very much permission based. When I fly, I switch on notifications in the airline’s app to notify me of delays or relevant airport information. I opt in. A gate change is critical information that is very context specific to being on a flight, in an airport, a specific terminal building and part of a process of having gone through security and soon to be boarding a plane. I seek contextual information, but I understand that I need to download the app to get that hyper-relevant communication. In doing so, I am giving useful data and cues about my of the moment state.
For an anonymous user, the clever part is that whilst opting in is entirely on the terms of the user – as it should be – once they do opt in, it is possible to backfill some information around IP address; location, device and more. Furthermore it can be a hugely powerful and reinforcing experience for a returning user to arrive back on your site with the most relevant information presented to them, no matter what device and for there be clues that state, “We know you”.
Even something as simple as a note to say “Welcome back” can trigger a better experience based on establishing a relationship built on trust, relevancy and a fair exchange of an email address in return for the best possible contextual experience.
Whilst you may be just 35 steps away from a great salad after a long-haul flight, you are just one click away from understanding how to provide personal and contextualized interactive brand experiences for customers across every touch, channel and device throughout their individual journey – SDL Web now offers context brokering.