April 19, 2019

What is Contextual Marketing?

Without a full understanding of your prospects' situations, you won't be able to position your marketing content effectively.

For example, if a prospect is reading SEO-related content on your website, a call-to-action to download an email marketing e-book isn’t likely to convert them. You want to make sure you have a full understanding of your prospects’ situations when you’re creating any marketing content. The more you know about them, the better you can understand what they need and how to position it for them.

That's why contextualizing your marketing strategy is so important: it helps prospects easily understand, relate to and find value in all the content they receive.

What is Contextual Marketing?

Contextual marketing is a strategy that’s guided by the behaviors and conditions surrounding your marketing efforts so all content is relevant to the person receiving it.

Contextual marketing is a pillar of inbound marketing but is applicable universally. To be effective, marketing content must be pertinent to the people it’s reaching.

And contextual relevance isn’t just defined by content. The timeliness matters as well, so the information stays relevant.

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.

How Do You Deliver Contextually Relevant Content?

To deliver contextually relevant information, you need to understand the psychographics of your buyer personas to know how to speak to them in terms of voice and tone and what content will resonate with them.

For example, marketing director might be more concerned with demonstrating ROI as opposed to an entry-level marketing member who’s just interested in how to execute tactics.

The communication channels that are most effective may also differ persona to persona, so in addition to understanding what content works best and how it should be positioned, knowing where to deliver it is also important to contextual marketing.

If a persona isn’t on social media, then Twitter shouldn’t be your sole means of communicating with them.

In some cases, you might not know the next step that perfectly aligns with the behavior of a prospect. In that case, you need to frame the content to match the context. If you’re sending a prospect content that might not be their first choice, but you position it well, they might still download it if you tailor your message specifically to them.

For example, if someone has read everything you have to offer on SEO, you might follow up with content about conversion optimization and frame it with a message along the lines of:

“You’ve been working hard to attract website visitors, but what are they doing once they arrive on your website? Based on your interest in SEO, we thought you might be interested in our conversion optimization guide…”

The worst thing you can do is wrongfully insert context. If someone is from a B2C company, sending them marketing content referring to them as B2B will be detrimental to their impression of you.

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The Importance of Buyer Persona Segmentation

Creating content around specific buyer personas and behaviors won’t work if you don’t have a way to deliver it to just those people. That’s where segmentation comes into play.

Every Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM) should have the ability to segment your contacts. CRM systems store different data points about each contact that you can use to organize people based on the criteria you have data for.

For example, you can use your CRM to create a list of contacts who work in the manufacturing industry at companies that have 100–200 employees.

There’s no “right” way to segment. Instead, it’s all based on the marketing activity you’re trying to do. If your goal is to generate awareness, you’re going to be targeting a much larger audience then if you’re promoting a product that only works for a portion of your target market.

How Do You Tailor Content to General Audiences?

If you have multiple buyer personas, it can be difficult to tailor your message on channels that could reach anybody, like on social media. So, when developing your strategy for Facebook or LinkedIn, you want to create content that is all-encompassing and can be applicable to all your personas.

If you sell your product or service to companies in three different industries, you want to highlight all three through your content. Or, if you’re hosting a webinar that’s only relevant to one of those industries then that needs to be clearly communicated in your promotion.

However, when possible, refine your audience.

Varying your content formats can also strengthen your contextual marketing strategy. If someone only consumes video content, chances are they won’t be interested in reading a 50-page guide.

To adapt to a variety of learning styles, make your content available in different formats.

While it might not be possible for you to have a visual and written version of every piece of content, there’s a wide variety of ways you can make your content more accessible.

A webinar can become a blog post or infographic. A blog can become a podcast topic.

Start by just getting the content out there, and then add different variations that can better appeal to different audience members.

Adding a Personal Touch to Your Content

Most marketing automation platforms that can integrate with CRM systems offer personalization, which can help add context to content that reaches general audiences, such as your website.

A name is a pretty universal piece of information you can leverage to create a more personalized experience for your prospects. While you wouldn’t want to use someone’s name in a blog post — content created and presented to general audiences is not the right context for personalization like that — you could have your chatbot greet them by name.

The same goes for company names. Targeting content around a company’s name and industry works well in email subject lines or chatbots.

You can also use variable content for CTAs and landing pages so you don’t show someone a CTA for a piece of content they already downloaded or include a form question they’ve already answered.

You can also personalize based on custom properties specific to what you look for in a customer base. For example, a finance software might need to know what currency a company uses.

You can also set properties based on events or engagements. So automation can be triggered by visiting a specific website page or registering for a webinar.

The Takeaway

Use all these strategies in moderation. Don’t make it obvious you’re automating contextualization or personalization by sending an email with 12 personalized properties in the first paragraph. You want prospects to feel like you’re catering to them, not like you’re stalking them.

Additionally, if you don’t have the capabilities to be super-granular, being broad and inclusive is better than being exclusive and incorrect.

When gathering information about prospects, don’t overlook the value of talking to them. Don’t rely solely on data enrichment tools to gather information. Once you’re talking to someone in person, make sure to verify the information you have is correct.

At the end of the day, every marketing strategy should be contextual because that’s how you’re going to deliver the most value to your prospects and customers.

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Amanda Nielsen

Amanda is a former New Breeder.


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