Visitors come to your website with various needs and requirements, searching for different information. How can you customize and tailor your content to a specific visitor or a group of visitors with the same intent? The answer is contextual marketing.
What is Contextual Marketing?
Contextual marketing refers to activities of personalized marketing that help to tailor the content to the needs and demands of users. Contextual marketing is based on the user – who he is, where he comes from, how he behaves and what content he searches for. Context can change very often, mainly in the current, constantly evolving society. That’s why we need to define the following main factors that affect it:
- Time of the visitor’s arrival
- Preferred language
- The communication channel (source) through which he comes from
- The location of the user
- History of the user’s purchases
- The previous behavior of the user
- Used device
“Personalization” is not a term we’ve just coined. It’s been a commonly known trend in marketing for some time now, but some companies still don’t realize its potential and don’t pay much attention to it. A lot of surveys show that a big percentage of customers purchase because of great customer experience which is a product of personalization. Let’s see the following examples. A company can send out letters to its customers congratulating them on their birthday by offering a unique discount coupon. An ecommerce site can suggest a list of products based on the user’s previous purchases and preferences.
„73% of customers prefer personalized experience in the online world.“ (HubSpot)
How to apply contextual marketing and make the best of it?
Don’t worry. Contextual marketing doesn’t require a drastic change in your content strategy. It “just” emphasizes how a conversion-driven and personalized content should look like. It suggests what the content should be about while drawing attention to things that should be avoided. The contextual marketing approach puts the visitor and his intention always first – as well as what he is looking for on your website.
The first and the most important thing that you need to keep in mind is that your content has to be helpful and valuable for your visitors. Collecting personal data of users opens a wide range of endless possibilities – it’s not intended solely for using the user’s name in the subject of a newsletter in order to motivate him to open your email. Make the best out of the data provided by the visitor. Use it for his own benefit, making his experience more personalized: show the user relevant offers in a specific location, offer birthday discount coupons or notify him to complete his order. The list goes on.
Contextual marketing is about guiding the visitor on the path to information he’s looking for, but also steering him in other directions where he can stumble upon information he wasn’t actively looking for, but he might find it relevant and useful. The main goal of the whole webpage (and also its subpages) is to publish quality and valuable content which can be intuitively found by the visitor without experiencing any problems.
Why is UX a key factor in contextual marketing?
As they say, practice makes perfect. So again, the main goal of contextual marketing is to create personalized content based on the visitors, tailored to their needs and search intent. “How can I make sure that visitors find everything they are looking for on my website?” you might ask. Well, this is when UX design comes into play. UX design should:
- Be adjusted to the visitors that are in one of the stages of the customer journey – information phase, consideration phase and decision phase)
- Be intuitive, meaning, that one subpage should always offer an answer to one question and lead the visitor to only one action.
- Be consistent, which means that you need to keep the same visual identity (colors, elements,...) throughout the entire website.
- Have a good navigation. Your main menu located in the header of your page should be flawless, but don’t forget about the navigation in the footer of the site.
- Be visually appealing in order to create the best first impression. Try to play with simplicity, white spaces and relevant images.
„40% of visitors never return to a website with bad user experience.“ (HubSpot)
How to create a contextual strategy?
Alright. Now that we’ve learnt what contextual marketing is and how UX design have an influence on it, we can move on to our step-by-step tutorial on how to build the right contextual strategy:
1. Identify your visitors, group them into segments and choose one of the segments you want to reach out to (who)
In this case, we recommend to segment your public into 2 main groups:
─ Visitors who have visited your website for the first time: you can segment them based on their country, device, source they came from, language and more.
─ Visitors who have already provided you with some information: stage of their journey (information phase, consideration phase, decision phase), previous purchases, past behavior and so on.
2. Determine the main opportunities (where)
In order to implement contextual marketing, the best practice is to choose a subpage that currently performs the best – this page is also called as your high-performance page.
3. Decide what content should be personalized (what)
It’s up to your own decision whether you personalize your content, a call-to-action (CTA) button, a form or something completely different. But this decision should be always based on your target segment and on your goal, you want to achieve.
4. Outline one or more conversion journeys (how)
It’s important to outline the path the visitor should take. You should also depict where your CTA buttons will take them.
5. Optimize your default content
Don’t forget about your other visitors. It’s one thing creating a personalized content for your specific segment, but you shouldn’t leave your other visitors hang out to dry. Make sure the default content on your page offers high quality information while being relevant and well optimized for search engines to find it.
6. Create your personalized content
Finally, create and implement the content you’ve chosen in step 3, which will be shown to the target audience of visitors.
7. Test, test and test
At the end of the day, contextual marketing is “only” a strategy that needs constant evaluation to see whether it has met its defined goals. It’s important to identify weaknesses, eliminate them and improve the proposed strategy.
How can this look in practice?
Imagine you own an ecommerce store that offers underfloor heating as the main product, but there are also other products as kitchen or bathroom accessories in your selection. Using contextual marketing you can:
- Present visitors, who came to your website from the search engine after typing “underfloor heating”, with your main product on your main page (while keeping other products in the menu) and display a large banner with a discount on underfloor heating and simultaneously
- Highlight other products on your homepage for visitors, who have already ordered underfloor heating and visited your website again, while putting underfloor heating in the background and simultaneously
- Show visitors, who came to your website from Facebook; ergo, you can’t be sure about their intention, the default page where you list all your available products you offer, without prioritizing any of them.
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