Have you ever thought about your consumer experience when a user clicks onto your website? Whether the user is a new prospect or a long time customer, the experience is always the same. What if there was a way to share individualized experiences for each of your consumers based on their preferences and needs? Well, the answer is simple, contextual marketing.

Fundamentals of Contextual Marketing

What is contextual marketing? Contextual Marketing is personalized marketing based on the context of who a visitor is and what they are looking for. This form of marketing takes into account the users context so that you can provide content tailored to the user’s needs. You can also use contextual marketing in every stage of the buyers journey; Whether it be the awareness, consideration, or decision stage. You will be able to get the right content in front of the right person at the right time when using contextual marketing strategy.

This all sounds great right? Well, it is. But, there are some practices you will want to take before diving too deep:

  1. Start Small
  2. Be helpful to your visitors
  3. Optimize content for search engines and first-time users
  4. Don’t confuse your visitors
  5. Ensure that visitors can get to all valuable content

Here is a quick example of contextual marketing by Oreo:

During the Super Bowl in 2013, there was a power outage at 8:48PM. As soon as this happened, Oreo’s advertisements spiked with their “Dunk In The Dark” campaign on Twitter. This advertisement had a large impact and it was done with less money than other advertisements during the Super Bowl. This was Oreo’s way of showing it is always following the news and trends.

Designing The User Experience

We all know what it is like going to a store and having a negative experience; Not being able to find what you are looking for, rude sales associates, or another customer taking the last item you need right before your eyes. Leaving the store you could be upset and really frustrated. However, I want you to think of a time when you had a great experience in a store; You walk in the store, you get greeted with open arms, you can tell what section the product you are searching for will be in, and there are shelves stocked with limitless options. You leave happy and with what you needed.

In the digital world a user experience is simply the experience a user has on your website. It speaks to how people navigate your website and recognize your design. The more user friendly your website is, the more positive the user experience will be overall. Contextual marketing focuses on visitors needs, habits, and goals to create. a personalized website visit experience tailored to that individual. Understanding your user’s needs should be the first and foremost important thing in your user experience strategy.

But, how do you deliver a successful user experience? There are five main characteristics that will make your website a positive experience for every user:

  • Your website must be useful
  • Your website must be intuitive
    • Evaluate your bounce rate: the number of single-page visitors who leave your website without navigating to another page. A high bounce rate (approx. 40% or higher) means your website is non-intuitive.
    • To make sure your website is intuitive:
      1. Each page should answer one question at a time
      2. Each page asks a visitors to take one action at a time
      3. The content guides the visitor to their individual next stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Your website must be consistent
    • Speaks to the mere-exposure effect: the more familiar we are with something, the more we like it.
  • Your website must be accessible
  • Your website must be appealing

You might be at the realization that your website needs reevaluation! The thought might be “Maybe my website isn’t as easy to navigate through as I thought?” Maybe so, but this is ok. This is the realization that you had to have to create the best user experience possible. Let’s redesign your website!

Keep the previous five characteristics in mind while we reevaluate and redesign your website. To being a user redesign, I will be using a methodology. To start:

  1. Complete a content audit
    • If you don’t know what a content audit is or if you are having trouble with the process, click here to view my IPR Content Audit Template!
  2. Hold interviews with stakeholders, managers, staff
  3. Complete card sort session
    • Opened Card Sort
      1. Write your website’s pages on index cards
      2. Invite individuals outside the organization to organize the cards
      3. Have them group the cards according to similarity
      4. Look at the trends between individuals
    • Closed Card Sort
      1. Give your participants the categories that you have come up with
      2. Ask them to organize the cards into those categories
  4. Conduct usability testing
  5. Create a style guide
  6. Make a list (multiple lists) of things to change
    • Wish list
    • Things to fix list

Use Personalization

What does personalization mean in terms of contextual marketing? Personalization is a tool you can use in your contextual marketing strategy to focus on an individual. Did you know 40% of consumers buy more from companies that personalize the shopping experience across channels? There are four categories of personalization:

  • Contact Property
    • First name, last name, email address, phone number, etc.
  • Company Property
    • Industry, company name, company size
  • Office Location Property
    • City, state, postal code, mailing address
  • Contact Owner Property
    • Name, email address, signature

There are certain practices that work best when incorporating personalization: (1) evaluate your contact database (CRM), (2) set default values for all personalization tokens, (3) determine the personalization purpose, and (4) avoid using sensitive content or information. Remember there is a purpose for using personalization token; to drive engagement and to communicate specifics to an individuals. A well placed personalization token can solidify a connection between your company and an individual.

Segmenting With Context

By segmenting your website visitors and displaying content that is relevant to them, you will increase the impact that your content has. It is important to note that you can only target one segment at a time. Unlike general contextual marketing, segmentation needs to be broad enough to capture the entire segment. An example of being too specific would be, men who live in Sardinia, Italy using only mobile devices. You want to be able to engage an entire group of people.

You should consider segmenting you users in the following categories:

  • Membership Status
  • Contact Lifecycle
  • Location/Country
  • Device Type
  • Referral Source
  • Preferred Language

Planning a Contextual Marketing Strategy

With everything that goes into contextual marketing, you are going to need a plan on how to optimize your strategy. After planning, you will be on route to create engaging content and an exciting experience for all of your visitors. Remember, the goal of contextual marketing is personalize the user’s experience based on who they are and what they are looking for.

There are key essential steps to create a contextual marketing strategy:

  1. Identify the right segments to target
  2. Determine the contextual marketing opportunities of your website
  3. Decide on the content type
  4. Visualize the conversion path
  5. Optimize the default content type (for users that are not in a segment)
  6. Draft the content
  7. Consider using personalized tokens within content

*Tip: Not every segment needs a specific content type. Refine default segment content to align with a generalized segments needs rather than starting from square one.

There you have it! A briefing on contextual marketing. There is so much that goes into contextual marketing that we could not have possibly fit into one post. If you have questions regarding this topic please direct them to [email protected] or comment down below to join the conversation.

This article was first published on It’s Probably Rob.