in Experience Design

Local Context Drives Customer Experience

Context is the quiet layer wrapped around content that drives customer engagement.  It’s context that delivers business results by moving the experience forward — shortening the sales cycle and growing revenue.

As technology becomes more embedded into our personal and social lives, it’s understanding the customer context that is driving sophisticated marketing.  Contextual understanding answers why people are visiting your site, what device they’re using, their identity and their social network.

In 2011, Google released Winning in the Zero Moment of Truth that outlined how shopping decisions can be broken down into a series of Moments of Truth.

“Anyone involved in the art and science of marketing wins in this moment by making sure that web pages are optimized to outperform competitive pages as people search.” — Brian Solis

Gartner says that context-enriched services will improve interaction by using “location, presence, social attributes and other environmental information to anticipate an end user’s immediate needs, offering more-sophisticated, situation-aware and usable functions.”

Figure 1, Pankaj Mehra, 2012, IEEE Computer Society

Figure 1, Pankaj Mehra,
2012, IEEE Computer Society

Mobile devices improve usability because of their ability to continuously capture information about users and their context. The mobile search experience can be updated with contextual information captured through the handset’s sensors.

Context Creates Loyalty

Understanding why the customer needs information can create a specific rather than generic messaging. Understanding the customer and showing respect for how they want to interact creates loyalty.  “Delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty,” according to the Harvard Business Review. “Reducing their effort — the work they must do to get their problem solved — does.”

When someone visits a site, it doesn’t make sense to force them to make extra clicks through slow-loading and hard-to-read pages to find a single piece of information.  It’s imperative that customers experience the same level of checkout and shopping convenience that they would in the brick-and-mortar world.

The Future of Local Marketing

For the marketing world, the greatest power of context will be automated reasoning. Using what we know about context will enable inference — the foundation of smart devices and services to work with customer intentions and preferences. Contextual inference makes better recommendations for search results, products music and entertainment.

The opportunity for context-aware marketing is just as limitless as the places in which technology will become embedded in our lives.

Photo Credit heiwa4126. Under Creative Commons License

Further Research

  • P. Murukannaiah and M. Singh, “Platys Social: Relating Shared Places and Private Social Circles,” IEEE Internet Computing, to appear, 2012.
  • Pankaj Mehra, Context Aware Computing (PDF)
  • A. Johnson, J. O’Brien, and G. Alvarez, Context Shapes Demand at Moments of Truth, research report G00200528, Gartner, 25 May 2010.
  • R.V. Guha and J. McCarthy, “Varieties of Contexts,” Proc. 4th Int’l and Interdisciplinary Conf. Modeling and Using Context (CONTEXT 03), LNAI 2680, Springer, 2003, pp. 164–177.
  • F. Giunchiglia, “Contextual Reasoning,” Proc. 13th Int’l Joint Conf. Artificial Intelligence Workshop on Using Knowledge in its Context, Morgan Kaufmann, 1993.

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