Champions of… Context - Introducing Acquia Lift ContextDB
by David Mennie
My favorite baseball team did not have a good year on the field. The Boston Red Sox finished dead last in their division.
But when I caught a game late in the season, I had to tip my cap to the team’s marketing department.
As soon as I entered the venerable, 100-year-old Fenway Park, my smartphone buzzed with a friendly greeting, and a $15 discount offer on any souvenir over $50. My Red Sox app noted that it was my third visit of the season, and extended an appreciative welcome.
Later, after we reached our seats, it offered us a number of upgrade options.
During the game, I could review videos of the team’s (regrettably few) highlights on my phone. I could even check out the songs that each Red Sox player had selected to be played as he stepped into the batter’s box.
Towards the end of the game (another loss, btw), I got a notice that anyone in my party under 16-years-old could run the bases after the game.
Contrast that with happened when I entered my local Big Box store after spending an hour on their website, sorting through televisions.
I had to re-introduce myself as a customer, and try to recapture my progress as I struggled to identify the real world versions of the units I had been looking at online.
The difference between the two experiences highlights something that's now an important factor in digital business: context.
The Red Sox were with me from the moment I entered their house: our interactions were responses to where I was, and when. The welcome popped up as soon as I entered; I didn’t notice the upgrade offer until after we reached our seats. The run-the-bases option was presented later in the game.
The messages arrived in context. They felt like they were customized to me.
Fenway Park’s fan responsiveness is new, enabled by “iBeacon” technology adopted just this year by Major League Baseball. But the importance of context has been steadily growing for much longer than that.
In fact, if you haven't been paying attention to context, it's time to start. Here's why:
- Half of US online adults are now "always addressable," meaning that they access the Internet multiple times per day from multiple devices, from multiple physical locations. This gives marketers more opportunities than ever before to engage their customers in relevant ways.
- The fast-growing Internet of Things is placing sensors and radios everywhere, enabling enterprises to engage with customers in a widening variety of locations and situations. Did a customer just pick up a shoe to take a closer look? The latest version of iBeacon technology, which uses small radio-enabled stickers that can be placed inside display items, can track who picked it up. The next time those customers check into that company’s Web site -- via laptop, tablet, or smartphone -- that shoe should be front and center.
- By harvesting big data (or even little data), companies can now collect much more information -- about the customer and the context -- to serve more relevant information, at exactly the right time.
- New research, from Accenture and others, is showing that although a majority of customers are concerned about data privacy, they continue to embrace technology in pursuit of a good deal. Nearly two thirds of respondents in a recent survey said that when they are physically in a store, they welcome text messages from the retailer that alert them to offers matching their buying preferences.
These trends add up to a new capability -- a requirement really -- to engage with a customer in context -- delivering relevant context when and where he or she wants it.
You can start this process from the very first, anonymous, interactions. You can build on these experiences. And you can apply them to other channels: from the Web to mobile, from social to in-store retail.
If some of these capabilities sound blue sky, it's because they are just now appearing on the horizon.
More than two years in development here at Acquia, ContextDB is a personalization solution designed for marketers that allows companies to reach unprecedented levels of conversion and engagement for their sites. It helps them understand their customers from a visitor’s very first click on their website through to when they become an identified user.
Acquia Lift ContextDB creates a rich, progressive profile of your customers by collecting data from any channel including web, email marketing platforms, marketing automation tools, social platforms, call center transactions, offline, and third-party data sources. Marketers can leverage this data to uncover deep insights, and turn insights into action by triggering relevant communications for any channel.
Over the next few months, I’m going to blogging on the topic of context, examining the frontiers of this concept from a variety of points of view. Acquia Lift ContextDB will be just one of the lenses I’ll be looking through. I’ll also be tapping insights from a variety of digital business thought leaders whom I respect.
My belief is that we'll discover, together, that some of the very things that enterprises most want to do with their digital business initiatives, context will help them do.
So watch this space, or follow me on Twitter (@david_mennie). I’ll let you know when I post the next installment.