Situational marketing: The rise of the hyper-personal experience


If you take a moment to pause and review the evolution of marketing, one thing is very clear: marketing has gone from big and broad to small and hyper-personal.

Once upon a time, advertisements were virtually exclusive to newspapers and yellow pages. Then, technology leapt forward and we progressed to television advertising. Next, the internet age brought digital marketing to the forefront and, with it, a whole new set of marketing opportunities.

Now, we take our technology—and as a result, our advertising—on the go. With the increase of mobile use, net US mobile advertising is projected to increase to $28.48 billion this year. We also have wearable technology to consider, which is causing location-based marketers to plan their next big strategy. Fortunately for us, there are tools available that can help with implementing things like location and review data into our advertisements to give our customers more targeted, relevant information. We can then measure the amount of clicks an advertisement receives and what impact the ad has on in-store purchases.

National advertising has left customers weary and uninterested, which is why location-based marketing strategies were developed and have increased in popularity across a multitude of industries. However, in order to stay relevant in today’s business environment, an organisation must now be able to look beyond location-based marketing, to marketing techniques and strategies that take the many situations in a customer’s day into consideration and delivers useful advertisements to customers.

Simply put, situational marketing is an advertisement that’s designed around an individual customer’s specific circumstances and needs.

Marketing is seldom effective when it’s done “one-size-fits-all,” so situational marketing is designed to be one-size for you, for her, for him and so on. It’s personalised and relevant. Through trial-and-error, online marketing strategies research has found that 86 percent of internet users have now admitted to “banner blindness.” This means they aren’t paying attention to the advertisements that appear on the side of the page as they browse the web. Each of us are used to ignoring ads that aren’t relevant to us, so the challenge becomes: How do we make it relevant? By fitting the advertisement to the situation.

If you’re wondering what situational marketing looks like, here’s an example. Your target customer just finished a workout and recorded their exercise information on a mobile app. Thanks to the tools that allow you to view this activity, an advertisement appears on their screen that directs them to your location offering them a discount on protein or nutrition bars—exactly what they’re looking for right now! They head straight over and the purchase is made within minutes of seeing your well-placed advertisement.

Care for another example? A young woman in your target demographic has just finished a movie and it’s nearing dinner time. An advertisement comes on her screen as she rates the film on a review site that shows her how to get to your nearest restaurant location, adding information about your phone number and hours of operation along with a coupon for a free drink. Maybe they were thinking about pizza, but after seeing how good your steak enchiladas look and being incentivised with your info and a coupon already in front of them, your chances of gaining a new patron are looking good.

Today’s customers will respond to businesses taking the conversation to a micro-level through a hyper-personalised experience. Marketing is used to create demand and encourages customers to act, and personalised calls-to-action have resulted in a 42 percent increased conversion rate. Having an advertisement or a coupon randomly pop-up on a customer’s screen just because they are in the area doesn’t create a demand. Instead, it creates an impersonal feeling of intrusion. Your advertisement is not meant to intrude on a customer’s day; it’s meant to benefit their day. Make your marketing strategy useful by switching to a situational frame of mind.

Situational marketing causes us to ask different questions when thinking of strategy. These questions include: “What is on the to-do list for my customer?” and “How can our marketing plan check items off that list?” Situational marketing is about drilling deeper and asking when a customer would want to receive an ad. A customer receiving a notification for a discounted cup of coffee before bed is less likely to respond with an action than a customer just waking up and receiving the same ad. By aligning our advertisements with the activities of our customers, we regain control of the conversation.

In general, businesses have now effectively moved away from national advertising in favor of advertising on a local level—but that’s really just the first step. Now, let’s move to targeting specific situations. If you want to improve your relationships with your customer then you need to make your advertisements as relevant to them as you possibly can. Attention spans are short and competition is fierce, so make sure you get in front of your target customers in the right place at the right time to see real results from your marketing/advertising campaigns.

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22 Oct 2015, 12:54 p.m.

We at Platform totally agree with the theory that if you want to improve your relationships with your customer then you need to make your advertisements as relevant to them as you possibly can. We would take it one step further though and encourage brands to apply that thinking to their brand development and marketing strategies as well.
In our experience the businesses that seamlessly listen, access customer data and then use that data to offer a completely personalised experience to engage and respond, will continue to be the ones that get it right more often. This is something we've been discussing with a lot of our clients. Increasingly though the challenge for brands is finding ways to authentically engage with their customers, something that we see our clients do through 'Customer Experience Centres', spaces created and dedicated to collaboration where the personal face to face 'human' element is combined with technology. Offering customers an environment where both elements can be effectively showcased together surely gives brands a way to stay on top of what their customers need and want.