Inbound marketing. Outbound marketing. Guerilla marketing. Digital marketing. Relationship marketing. Neuromarketing. Stealth marketing (didn’t see that one coming). Obviously, there’s no shortage of ways people have created to persuade others to purchase something.
So, is “contextual marketing” just another slick attempt to sell books and software? Let’s scrutinize this way to supposedly connect companies with website visitors.
Spoiler alert: Contextual content marketing is a legit technique that can enhance the website user experience, target B2B marketing messages, and (ultimately) win new, happy customers.
What is Contextual Marketing?
Personalization is power. Any time you can connect with someone on a personal level, instead of mass marketing your messaging, you’re far closer to cranking up your conversion rates. You’ve seen personalization and likely used it in emails, calls to action, or other ways.
HubSpot defines contextual marketing as “personalized marketing based on the context of who a visitor is and what they’re looking for.” Wow! Creating individualized experiences tailored to different people based on their preferences must be an instant leg-up, right?
It is! When someone is presented with content that applies to them, they have a humanizing experience. They’re connected. They care. That’s the power of smart content — content that changes based on the individual.
Combining Contextual Marketing With Inbound Methodology
On its own, contextual marketing is a great tool, but it falls short of fulfilling the entire buyer’s journey. It can only do so much. That’s why keeping focused on overall strategy remains a key to success.
All steps of the inbound marketing flywheel — attracting, engaging, and delighting customers — can be enhanced by using contextual marketing. For instance, you’ll delight current customers each time they return to your website as they experience something new and relevant. What a difference maker!
The Key Components to Maximizing Contextual Marketing’s Benefits
According to a HubSpot study, conversion rates are 20% higher when website pages use contextual marketing.
The math seems simple: the right content + the right person + the right time = a lead. And once you’ve delighted that new customer, you can more effectively provide additional offers to that person based on their behavior. That’s taking advantage of the momentum of the inbound marketing flywheel.
So, what is needed to properly execute contextual marketing? Let’s dive into the key components!
1. Map Your Marketing Content to Your Buyer’s Journey
Helping visitors accomplish their goals should be your #1 goal when developing and planning your website user experience. Different buyer personas are interested in different things, and their priorities change as their buyer’s journey continues.
Mapping the buyer’s journey helps you align content with the mindsets, interests, and behaviors of your website visitors. Meet visitors where they are in the buyer’s journey and deliver relevant, helpful content. Some examples…
- Awareness: This visitor downloaded an eBook
- Consideration: This visitor watched your product video
- Decision: This visitor asked for a live demo
Three more quick tips:
- Understand what questions buyers may ask at each step in the journey.
- Identify everyone on the buying team so you can write meaningful copy.
- Uncover relevant search terms to help your content in SERP rankings.
Although it’s exciting to customize content for various steps in the buyer's journey, don’t forget about your first-time website visitors. This segment of visitors is obviously quite broad, so stay focused on educating them, assisting them, and nurturing them.
2. Focus on Your Website’s User Experience
A good website user experience can drive sales and delight customers. However, a poor user experience causes friction and confusion, and it can negatively impact the bottom line. Amazingly, with contextual marketing, two different visitors can be on the same page, at the same time, and have different experiences.
When imagining the best website user experience, you need to consider your site’s overall architecture and navigation, the design, the copy, calls to action, page load time, and much more. Plus, make sure every page has a clear and obvious focus. Clarity is comforting for visitors.
RELATED: HOW TO CREATE WEBSITE ARCHITECTURE THAT ALIGNS WITH THE BUYER JOURNEY
Visualize the conversion path of each segment (more on segmentation in #3 below). This is the optimal user experience which, of course, is completely digital, yet most transactions end in human to human contact. Provide easy and clear ways for interested prospects to reach out to you. You’ll find obvious CTAs move them through the sales funnel quickly and with less stress.
3. Maximize Personalization and Segmentation
Creating memorable experiences for prospects and customers requires some homework, starting with website personalization. Here are some practical steps to use personalization in digital marketing:
- Determine your purpose — Is your personalization meant to simply engage the visitor or provide specific information tailored to them? Visitors will feel especially connected when a specific, relevant offer or content piece is presented to them.
- Evaluate every contact in your database or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system — Is your information current and complete? What parts of the information that you have can be used for personalization?
- Set defaults for personalization tokens — For your contacts that lack full information, set a default that makes sense.
- Example #1: If you can’t personalize a page to say “Hello Frank,” use “Hello again!”
- Example #2: If you can’t personalize to say “your CNC machine shop” use “your business”
- Don’t use sensitive information — Just because you have information, doesn’t mean you should use it when personalizing. For instance, seeing your income range pop up on a web page would definitely be off-putting.
Segmentation is the foundation of contextual marketing. When you break up website visitors into segments, you can display content that’s more relevant to each audience segment, which makes your content much more powerful. Here, you’re targeting a group of people, not specific individuals, and it can be as simple as this:
- Known visitors are people who’ve been there before and filled out a form. You can segment them by contact list membership or lifecycle stage, which need to be set up in your CRM.
- Unknown visitors haven't seen your website before or filled out a form. Segment these people by what device type they’re on, country they’re in, or traffic source.
A “smart rule” allows you to create multiple versions of content for different audiences based on contact list membership or lifecycle stage. You’ll be most efficient by targeting the largest group of similar people. Just be aware of the visitor’s context as you write your targeted messaging.
4. Integrate Marketing Automation and CMS Tools with Your CRM
According to a 2021 B2B buyers survey in Demand Gen Report, 80% of respondents said that a vendor’s online content has a big impact on their purchasing decision. Yes, your website’s content is crucial throughout the buyer’s journey.
But really, without the right structural and tactical support — usually from reliable software systems — great content is wasted. Earlier, we mentioned cleaning up your contact list in your CRM system, which is a good start.
However, your life can be made a lot easier by automating tasks and using tools that effectively “talk” to one another. A good content management system (CMS) and marketing automation capabilities can integrate with your CRM to introduce efficiencies to your marketing, sales, and service efforts.
Capture website leads, bring them into your CRM, and unleash your automation efforts to deliver custom content to each prospect. By getting your website to work harder to generate leads, you’re having a significant impact on your sales pipeline. Ready to map out your buyer’s journey for inbound success? Check out our guide, Buyer's Journey Worksheet & Template, which walks you through the steps needed to understand what content is going to be the most effective at each stage.