Five Contextual Marketing Design Principles

Last August I wrote that Marketing needed to develop five key-capabilities to drive the Consumer’s Decision Journey. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you do. Although this post can stand on itself, it may help you to see the bigger picture. A picture that looks at contextual marketing through a Service Dominant Logic lense.

To be more specific, in this post I will be elaborating on what I believe are the 5 key design principles to deliver on key-capability V to drive the Consumer’s Decision Journey, that I describe as :

Design & provide company (branded) touch-points that enable Customers to perform key-jobs and achieve key-outcomes in each phase of the Customers path [to purchase]

I’ve said it before but touch-points that are capable of helping Customers getting their jobs done require a lot more than good, compelling content. Yet it can’t do without as well. On top of that though, I believe there are five design principles you should apply to each touch-point in the journey, for it to become relevant in the context of a Consumer’s journey to get her job done. Here they are:

Design Principle I: Customization
Despite all the talk about predictive modeling it is safe to assume that you do not know exactly who is coming to your touch-point at any given point in time, nor with what intentions and with what goals in mind. Your touch-point should therefore be able to cope with all kinds of variability. Variability in Consumer needs, behavior and context. The simplest of ways to get that done is by offering the Consumer a degree of customization options.

Mass customization techniques are used in tailoring products and services for quite sometime now so there is a vast body of knowledge you can leverage to apply it’s principles to touch-point design as well.

Please note: Customization is not about providing options to choose from. Customization is about altering the design and working elements of a touch-point to better meet the Consumer’s desired outcomes of the specific job(-step) the touch-point is designed to enable.

Design Principle II: Personalization
Offering the Consumer a level of customization options is both a great start and a true differentiator in most cases. Personalization is the next step to bring you from being relevant to making it easy. You should be able to bring all the knowledge you have about the Consumer to the touch-point and apply it to personalize and simplify the experience.

This capability is not only limited to knowledge about this specific Consumer that sit inside your Customer record. It also includes the application of knowledge about “people like her” – to help her -.

Sophistication would be to have this deep and personal understanding to drive customization options of principle I. And of course the outcomes of customization options should fuel personalization efforts.

Design Principle III: Capturing Context and Transfer Knowledge
Following people around the web (i.e. through re-targeting) is commonplace these days. I would not consider these touch-points to be contextual relevant in most cases though. Marketers should make an effort to use the same capability as they use for retargeting, not to push messages in the face of Consumers, but really try to help them getting their stuff done.

This requires not only taking into account the Consumer and your message, but the context of the Consumer as well. Capturing this context, understanding whether you will be relevant (in the Consumer’s eyes) and applying that understanding is a necessary first step. Even, or mostly maybe, to decide not to present the Consumer with a touch-point at all.

Apart from capturing context, touch-points are capable of capturing more and more data these days. And of course your touch-points need to be equipped to do so. The real challenge lies in designing in the capability to transfer that data into knowledge, apply it in real-time to the touch-point itself and transfer it to the next touch-point in line of the Consumer’s journey as well.

Design Principle IV: Integrated Feedback-loop
Besides the (real-time) application of knowledge at the touch-point, integrating a Consumer feedback-loop, is a must-have I probably not need to elaborate a lot on. The dominant purpose of course is to improve the touch-point in specific an your service in general.

Besides that, requesting feedback is an excellent way to provide other Consumers with an objective rating of the touch-point and the experience others were having with your efforts to help them. Reviews that will help improve your credibility.

Design Principle V: Offer An Escape
It is important to understand that, regardless of whether your touch-point has followed any or all of the above principles, it is likely there are Consumer’s who are not capable of meeting their desired outcomes. Offering an escape route, to a contact center, a live chat, a social media team, to another touch-point designed to help people that got stuck along the road, is a must-have.

Making it difficult for Consumers to get out and continue elsewhere will just result in them getting out. Period.

To Conclude
Designing touch-points and making them tick in an orchestrated fashion is not an easy task these days. Unfortunately many marketers still produce content like paper flyers and drop them at any available corner on the digitals street. I sincerely hope the above five design principles will help marketers improve their capability to really help Consumers, not interrupt them.

Please let me know what you think in the comments.

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2 responses to “Five Contextual Marketing Design Principles

  1. Good insight. Note the perspective is from the providers point of view,
    I would suggest to use another word then escape route.

  2. If only companies will follow these principles then they would have a clear point of difference. The development of customer experience will ultimately result to customer engagement so long as the innovate the customer service before – during – and after sale.

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