In marketing, your overarching goal is to always send the right message to the right people at the right time. While this can sound daunting and you might worry that you don’t quite have the power of a telepath (nor can seem to figure out how tarot cards work); contextual marketing can get you pretty close to making you feel like you can.
The good thing is, you might already have a few practices already in place. And if you don’t, there’s some pretty nifty suites out there that can help you out - like the HubSpot CRM.
Let’s start off by defining contextual marketing.
What is Contextual Marketing?
Contextual marketing is personalised marketing based on the context of who a visitor is and what they’re looking for. A simple way to explain the idea of what contextual marketing is, is by thinking of words that have various meanings. Have a think about the word “jam” and “tune” for instance . While both words are written and pronounced in the same way they're written, they have varied meanings depending on how / when you say them. Jam can refer to the sweet fruity paste we love adding to our scones for afternoon tea but it can also refer to a fond liking of a specific song -- “That’s my jam” or even the horrific jam during peak hour traffic.
Similarly “tune” can refer to music -- “What a tune!” or can also be a slang referring to asking your mates to “join in” -- “Don’t forget to tune in!”. Can you tell from those references that we take our tunes and jams seriously here?! With those two examples, it is clear that the only way for you to differentiate them would be if there was context.
Contextual marketing is based on the same principle -- for something to make sense, you need context. Your content has to be relevant and personalised to your audience for it to click. You also want to make sure that the content you’re sending is out in a timely manner. For example, say someone requests an email marketing e-book and you don’t send it until two months later. Even though the content is what they asked for, the timing made it irrelevant.
With contextual marketing, you can target and address individuals and groups of people with similarities. Think of contextual marketing as part of a larger strategy for user experience. You’ll be able to provide the best experience for each individual visitor by showing them content that’s appealing and applicable to them. This means that two visitors at different stages of their buyer’s journey will be shown something different even when they land on the same page at the same time.
It’s undeniable that as technology evolves and consumer patience and attention spans shrink, marketers need to find creative ways to capture the attention of their audience and hold onto it with dear life. Customers expect more than ever before and in order to not lose your share (before even acquiring them), a contextualised strategy is key for sales and retention. Customers expect solutions given to them right at the moment they need them. They tend to choose brands who’ve got answers brought to them on a silver platter.
Why Contextual Marketing is the new black?
1. Cost effective
In order to effectively implement Contextual Marketing, you’ll need to have the right data. You’ve collected data but now what? You need a robust CRM system to help you store and most importantly make sense of all this data.
You’ve got a range of choices when it comes to selecting the best fit for your business. There are even CRM options for small businesses on restrictive budgets. In fact, our personal fave is HubSpot’s CRM software -- forever free and easily stacks on with other platforms. What else could you ask for?
2. Targeted traffic
By knowing where your customers are at in their buyer’s journey, you can target your prospects and present them with the right content just as they need it. This not only puts your brand front and centre at optimal times to encourage brand awareness, recall, and engagement but also fosters trust and loyalty.
3. Enhanced Customer Experience and Satisfaction
Following what we mentioned in the point above, contextual marketing enhances user experience and in turn satisfaction. Think about it for a sec. Wouldn’t you be awed if a solution to your problem magically presented itself to you? Because contextual marketing is highly personalized, the marketing message that gets sent to a consumer is perfectly timed and strategically positioned. Customers don’t want to be bombarded with marketing messages that aren’t relevant to them (actually quite the opposite).
By ensuring that you’re only reaching out to your prospects and customers when they want you to (and only when useful to them); you demonstrate that you see them more than just a number. You show that you know them and care. Trust is built and they become more confident about your brand.
4. Increased Customer Engagement and non-disruptive audiences.
We’re all busy and we hate being interrupted from our daily chores (and pleasures). But if you present yourself as a solution to their pain-point right when the pain is at it’s peak then they won’t see you as a pesky marketer hopelessly selling them something they don’t need. Imagine it’s right in the middle of summer and your barely 5 year old air conditioner just puffed it’s last breath of cool air. You’ve gone online and had a rant on how painful and inconvenient this is and just when you’re about to go on the hunt for a lifeboat, a banner image appears on your computer with a discount coupon for air conditioning units with 10 year warranties. Of course, you check it out. If it’s a great deal, you won’t let it pass. You’ll be extremely likely to take the next step.
5. More sales and revenue
This one’s a no brainer. Because your content is targeted, personalised, and strategically positioned at the time that your customer is about to purchase, your conversion rates will be higher, and your sales figures will increase. Your return on investment and the effectiveness of your campaigns will be higher compared to mass marketing where you’re essentially hoping that your rifle approach will hit the bull's eye -- highly unlikely.
So while this all sounds pretty damn good, where should you start? And how to make the most out of it? Here are five fundamentals of doing contextual marketing right.
a) Define your buyer persona and their lifecycle stages
People come in all forms and sizes -- nothing new here. What we are trying to get at here though is, people aren’t all the same and if you want your content to stick, you need to know who you’re “talking to”. Defining your buyer personas is key to contextual marketing.
Buyer personas represent your ideal customer. They’re a representation of who they are beyond demographics. Think of each persona as a real person - identify their problems, needs, wants, plans and importantly their behaviours and reactions to what life throws at them. This will help you classify each of your contacts and determine the right content and platform where you can reach them.The more detail you put into this, the easier it is for you to create a solid path that will lead your target audience straight to your doorstep.
Once you know who you are targeting, identify where they’re at in their journey. Determine who among your contact database are leads, subscribers, marketing/sales qualified leads, customers, and so forth. This will help you segment your audience and in turn provide marketing content that would work best to influence them.
b) Audit your contact database
Overtime, your list of contacts will grow but how many of those are actually relevant? If you’ve got leads who haven't opened a single one of your emails in the past 2 years; it’s probably time for you to remove them from your database.
They probably don’t want to receive content from you anymore; plus chances are their situation is very unlikely to have stayed the same from when they displayed interest years ago.
Identify any incorrect information and missing details. Keep your database healthy to ensure that the right messages are being delivered to the right people.
c) Work on your SEO game
SEO is an ever-evolving landscape. New updates come up and what’s trending now, may not be a few months down the line; so it’s vital that you check your site and optimise it for search engines so that your target audience can find your content in the right context. If you don’t quite know where to start, head here.
Optimising for SEO means using and ranking on topics and keywords that your specific target audience or buyer personas use. If search engines cannot properly crawl your site, and users cannot find your content, then you’re wasting highly relevant and valuable content. And considering how much time it takes to make great content, we definitely want all of the eyeballs on our stuff.
d) Identify your top performing content
Your top performing content indicates what your audience clicks on and wants to see more of. Once you have identified which of your content pieces performs ahead of the others, you can then create content that revolves around that theme or topic and also format/style. Expanding to long form content such as Ebooks could also be a good idea as they tend to rank favourably.
e) Improve user experience
Ensuring that your website offers a smooth experience is key to your success. Think of ways to make your website more user friendly.
Check for broken links and ensure that your page doesn’t take ages to load - no one has the patience for a lagging website to load unnecessary pages and images. Click around and see if all the buttons work and if they’re leading to the right webpage. Avoid clutter and get rid of links that people don’t reach out for.
Considering how prevalent mobile browsing has become; having a website that’s responsive to any screen size is crucial. Is it easy to tap the navigation buttons with your fingers? What’s important here is that you remove anything that poses an obstacle to the sale. Make it as simple and straightforward for your audience to take the action you want them to.
At the end of the day, contextual marketing brings out the personalised feel we want to receive from brands we interact with. Your audience, just like you, want to be more than just a sale, they want real advice from human beings. Provide your audience with content that’s interesting and relevant to them, and you’re already half way there. If you're after just the right software, hit us up!