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The Importance and Impact of Contextual Marketing

Article • March 22, 2023 • Written by: Diane Keng

As marketers, we’re all familiar with the slogan “Content is King,” and we’ve acted accordingly by building out content that provides value to our consumers. But creating content alone isn’t enough to drive engagement and support customer retention; it’s all about delivering that content to the right audience at the optimal point in their buyer’s journey. That’s where contextual marketing comes into play.

Contextual marketing, or context marketing, leverages contextual data like search terms, browsing activity, and external factors to deliver the right message to your consumers at exactly the right time. In order to personalize shopping experiences for every consumer, it has become increasingly important to understand the context that brings a consumer to your website or online storefront. This means differentiating between a customer that wants to do research on your brand vs. one that is ready to purchase and is searching for a discount or promotion. By targeting potential customers based on their online behavior, you can be sure to serve them the perfect content, promotion, or deal that is tailored to their habits and interests.

What is an example of contextual marketing?

In order to implement effective contextual marketing, you need to understand your consumer through contextual data. This includes social media activity, past buying behavior, preferences, location, and milestones in the customer journey, such as adding products to a cart, interacting with customer service, or signing up for the brand newsletter.

As a clothing and apparel brand, the right data can help you to personalize the shopping experience and delight your customers at every turn. Noticing that Jaime has abandoned their cart on your online store, you could trigger an email that offers a personalized discount for the items in their cart. Before context marketing, your consumer might be searching for a better deal from other brands. Now, Jaime has a compelling incentive to return to your site and complete their purchase, increasing your revenue and potentially securing you a loyal customer.

In the example above, you have used behavioral data to understand your consumer and entice them to convert. You can also use other contextual data such as location to personalize the experience and add convenience for your shopper. Let’s say you own a regional chain of grocery stores, and Tatum is a target consumer in your region. You could use geographic data to recommend buy-online-pickup-in-store offers that will get Tatum their products as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Benefits of contextual marketing:

  • Increased engagement: Consumers are more likely to engage with your content if it is tailored to their needs and experiences. Let’s say you own a beauty brand, and your consumer has been searching your website for nail kits. You might send them an email offer for BOGO nail polish since that aligns with their interests. Serving up the right promotion at the right time can increase clicks and conversions and show customers the value of trusting you with their first-party data.
  • Better customer experience: Contextual marketing can help you become a trusted source of information in your industry, leading to better customer retention. As a CPG food brand, you don’t want your consumers to get bored while scouring your website for recipes—so what if you optimized their experience based on their behavior and preferences? If your consumer has searched for gluten-free recipes in the past, you can recommend more content that fits their needs, reducing the time spent looking for recipes and improving the customer experience.
  • Increased revenue: Contextual marketing lends itself to true 1:1 personalization that delights your consumer. In the examples above, your consumer has found a reason to trust your brand and become a loyal customer. This increases the likelihood of conversion as well as the lifetime value of your customer. The examples above aren’t just hypothetical: one of our beauty brand clients earned an incremental increase of $268K in revenue month over month, while one of our food and beverage clients enjoyed $125M in new sales year over year.

How do you use contextual marketing?

  1. Use data to define and understand your audience: Collecting data is an essential step in contextual marketing. Without it, you can’t hope to meet the needs of your consumer and deliver the right content at the right time.

  2. Deliver personalized marketing experiences: 72% of customers will only engage with personalized messaging. Personalizing the customer journey based on contextual data ensures that your consumer’s needs are being met and that you stay top-of-mind for your audience.

  3. Test, iterate, and optimize to create unique buyer’s journeys: Once you have context on your consumer and have begun personalizing based on data, you can test new pathways and recommendations on your owned channels, allowing your brand to easily evolve and change with the consumer. Contextual marketing is a process of constantly learning from tests and optimizing the customer experience to earn more conversions.

Contextual marketing is quickly becoming an essential part of the online shopping experience. In a recent survey, 65% of consumers said they would be more tempted to buy from online ads relevant to the web page they were currently viewing. That’s contextual marketing in a nutshell: using context to deliver the perfect messaging based on consumer behavior.

Ready to transform your digital personalization with incredible speed?

Diane Keng

CEO & Co-Founder @ Breinify
Forbes 30 Under 30 for Enterprise Technology