Today’s consumers are one of the most powerful and influential audiences that brands have ever experienced. Shifting the focus away from products and services, consumers are now putting more value onto experiences, customer service and the social causes supported by the brands they support. Due to this, brands are finding it harder to appeal to and authentically reach out to consumers.

What is Context Marketing?

Context marketing is the act of delivering messages that speak to individual consumer needs and wants at specific times in their lives.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the price, placement, promotion and product of traditional marketing needs to be shaken up and contextualised according to the specific needs, wants, and circumstances of consumers.

Contextual marketing enhances the overall consumer experience by providing data-driven content that is personalised to an individual’s situation and needs. Engaging content delivered via the platform that your target audience is using helps cultivate more meaningful relationships.

Context vs. Content Marketing

So, what exactly is the difference between context and content?

In this day and age, every brand has certainly incorporated or at least heard of content marketing. It’s often said that content is king, and they’re not wrong! Content marketing is about brands putting out interesting and useful content that engages with consumers. Because of the nature of this kind of marketing, content marketing brings in 3X as many leads as traditional marketing.

However, content is now everywhere and it can be hard to actively engage and make an impression on your intended audience.

Since context marketing is about how, when and why we deliver that content, it revolves around putting your marketing messages into a context that’s relevant to each individual consumer. This also means that brand conversations are taking place across different channels and devices at the times most suited to your consumer’s needs.

Convincing consumers to pay attention to your brand has nothing to do with capturing their attention anymore—most brands already know how to do this! It all comes down to  understanding their context—this means their current position in time and whatever their task may be in that moment. Today, it is more important for brands to aim to help people achieve their immediate goals and solve their problems. This is the only way to break through the noise and motivate consumers to act!

According to Mathew Sweezey, author of the Context Marketing Revolution, what consumers want and expect out of marketers and brands is:

  • Availability – helping people achieve the value they seek in the moment
  • Personal – going beyond how personal the experience is, to how personally it can be delivered
  • Authentic – combining voice, empathy, and channel congruence simultaneously
  • Purposeful – creating a deeper connection to the brand beyond the product

Why Your Brand Needs Context Marketing

Modern marketing is focused on solving customer’s individual pain points and personalising a solution for them. It is now the age of creating unique and individual consumer journeys, and this is where context marketing comes in.

When you incorporate context into your relationship with a consumer, you will be able to provide more personalised and relevant marketing content that’s targeted at their needs. Personalised and relevant marketing is the foundation creating content your consumers are bound to love!

One example of context marketing done right is the collaboration between McDonald’s and Waze.

Source: AdAge

The fast food chain and GPS navigation app partnered to execute a context marketing campaign to drive better results for their outdoor advertisements.

The project started with the geofencing of more than 300 billboards in the South California area. Whenever a Waze user stopped driving for at least four seconds, a full-screen ad complimenting the one from a nearby McDonald’s billboard would appear on the Waze app and offer the driver the option of driving to McDonald’s. Over the span of its initial 8-week run, over 8000 people clicked through and chose to head to a McDonald’s.

Another brand that understood the importance of context marketing is Lego.

Lego started by identifying a major pain point faced by many of their consumers—parents had a hard time determining which set of toys best fit their child. This led many parents to visit the online Lego store and leave without a purchase.

In this specific moment along the journey, Lego needed to create a contextual experience to break through the confusion and motivate action.

Source: LEGO

Ralph was deployed on Facebook to all Lego website visitors who had visited the site but had not bought anything in the past 14 days. The ad invited them to have a conversation with Ralph, who would help them pick the perfect gift.

The experience was a major success. The average conversation with the bot was three minutes, and the sales from the bot accounted for 25% of online holiday sales that year.

Through contextual marketing, the brand was able to identify the goal of a particular consumer moment and craft a relevant and helpful experience in context.

How To Approach Context Marketing

Source: Bruno Gomiero, Unsplash

     1. Know Your Audience

Making content that fits the model of “one size fits all” will definitely strike a chord with some of your consumers, but it does not guarantee the most engagement or reach. That’s one of the main appeals of using context to market.

Whether it be context marketing or marketing in general, in order to successfully create meaningful content, brands need to know exactly who it is they’re talking to, what their intentions are and how to help them move forward. This is why it helps to define your audience and know them so you can market to them.


     2. Use Data

When you know the demographics of your audience, collecting data about them will help better tailor your message towards them. If you know nothing about your audience—aka context—it will be extremely hard to market anything to them. That’s why the importance of data cannot be overstated.

With terms like Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning being thrown around, there are now even more avenues for data-gathering. Collecting intelligent data and using it to provide content with added value to your audience is now easier than ever.


     3. Personalise

As previously mentioned, personalisation is one of the key elements behind context marketing. By gathering and analysing data from your consumers, your brand can easily personalise each consumer experience by understanding why your consumer took interest in your brand in the first place and how you can help them. A personalised solution will also make a consumer feel more authentically connected to your brand.

Get The Context Right

With the shift to personalisation and the increasing reliability on mobile as the primary (and sometimes only) touchpoint for consumers, brands now have to figure out the perfect time to strike.

Mobile devices and apps are an important tool in context marketing strategies.

Especially in a Singaporean context, it’s common for smartphones to be used as a consumer’s main touchpoint for everything from managing our finances to online shopping and entertainment. In fact, the use of mobile has moved away from its basic communication functions to encompass every aspect of our lives. According to Statista, Singapore is the leading country for smartphone usage and engagement with a whopping 82%. As of 2020, the smartphone industry is worth $355 billion, with 6 billion devices in use worldwide.

Therefore, it is imperative for brands to attempt to incorporate contextual marketing into their marketing strategy. Not only does this better engage consumers, but also address their pain points and subvert the normal trend of branded content. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today!


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Hero image: Youssef Sarhan, Unsplash