Make Your Marketing Smarter: Contextual Marketing Strategy

By Erin Gleeson | Inbound Marketing Account Manager

This is a part two of our contextual marketing series. If you missed part one, start with our introduction to contextual marketing instead.

You know what contextual marketing is and why you should use it, but how do you get started? And more importantly, how do you use contextual marketing to build long-term success?

Contextual marketing strategy-2

Contextual marketing provides individualized, customized experiences to visitors based on their needs and preferences. Before developing any smart content or using personalization, you need to have a strong strategy in place to define the audience you’re targeting and determine how you’ll provide a customized experience to this group.

Start any contextual marketing project by following the strategic framework below:

1. Define your problem statement

Don’t use contextual marketing just for the sake of using it. What problem or opportunity do you have that contextual marketing could address?

Set a strong foundation for your marketing by diagnosing a problem and clearly defining the opportunity. For instance -- you have multiple traffic sources referring traffic to the same, generic landing page. However, you’ve noticed that visitors from one traffic source are much more qualified than visitors from the other sources, and you want to boost form conversion rates in this audience.

2. Determine how contextual marketing will solve this problem

You’ve defined your problem- now, think through how personalization and/or smart content can address that problem and take advantage of that opportunity.

Building on our example from above, you know one traffic source sends more qualified traffic than the others. To capitalize on that, you’re going to segment traffic based on source and show the more qualified visitors different content that is targeted to them. In this case, you may want to use a shorter form to reduce friction or change the page copy to better reflect the tone and message of the referring source.

3. Define audience segments

The previous two steps should instruct who the audience is. Think about your problem statement/opportunity and the visitor group it involves. In this example, we’ve seen that traffic from one specific source (email) is more highly qualified, and we want to target this group with customized content. We’ll set-up our audience then as anyone coming to our landing page from email. The default page content will then serve everyone else, regardless of referral. 

Some other qualities you can segment on include the country the visitor is in; the device type (mobile vs. desktop); the lifecycle stage of the visitor; or membership of a pre-built list (for example, contacts you met at a trade show). 

contextual marketing segmentation optionsSmart content segmentation options in HubSpot.

4. Decide on the type of contextual marketing to use

Think about your audience and the problem you’re having. What method would most effectively and efficiently solve this problem? Should you include personalization tokens in your body copy to greet the returning visitor, or should you change text language to fit the preferred language of your visitor? Maybe you need to swap forms or CTAs based on the visitors’ previous actions on your site.

This step is highly important in determining the success of your contextual marketing. There may be several approaches you can take, so think through which will have the biggest impact.

For our example, I’d want to look at the existing landing page and diagnose any points of friction for the highly qualified email visitor. Am I promoting the page via email with different language, leading to a lack of consistency? If so, I’d want to customize the body copy to match the language in the email. Or, maybe I’m asking for information on the form that I already have for these visitors. In that case, I can reduce friction and redundancy by showing these visitors a shorter, easier to complete form.

5. Plan the conversion path for each audience group

Check your work at this stage: make sure any changes you’re making move your audiences down the funnel in the intended way. It’s easy to make contextual marketing more complex than necessary, so take a minute here to evaluate your plan and develop the intended conversion paths for the targeted group and the default group. Then, re-evaluate your contextual marketing plan and cut anything that doesn’t directly move the contacts towards the intended conversion.

6. Draft the content changes

Now that your strategy is complete, it’s time to actually draft the changes. This could be new content for the targeted audience, an alternate CTA or a different form. Develop the alternate content and have it ready to deploy in the next step.

7. Implement your contextual marketing

Finally, implement your contextual marketing in your marketing automation tool. Set up the audience and build out the new content. Push the changes live and monitor the results, making any changes as needed.



As you build out a contextual marketing strategy on your own, follow this framework to set yourself up for success.

Interested in implementing contextual marketing for your company? First, set up your marketing automation to make it possible. 

Learn More: Marketing Automation

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Erin Gleeson

Inbound Marketing Account Manager

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