4 min read

Make Your Marketing Smarter: An Introduction to Contextual Marketing

According to the Evergage 2018 Trends in Personalization study, 92 percent of marketers are using contextual marketing in some way, primarily in email and on websites.

You’re most likely included in this group. Think of the last email you sent out using marketing automation- did you include a first name token in the body copy? If so, you’re using contextual marketing via personalization to better speak to your audience.

But wait- there’s a lot more to contextual marketing as a whole than just populating a first name in an email template.

intro to contextual marketing

What is contextual marketing?

Contextual marketing plays off your CRM and marketing automation tools to provide individualized, customized experiences to visitors based on their needs and preferences. This could be as simple as adding a contact’s first name to an email greeting, or as advanced as providing tailored shopping recommendations to an individual visitor based on past orders.

There are many different ways to use contextual marketing across tactics but today, we’ll focus mostly on smart content. Smart content is a variation of page content targeted to visitors who meet pre-defined conditions. When developing smart content, you essentially set up a second version of a webpage to better serve the needs of a certain group of visitors, while still catering to anyone else visiting that page.


Why use contextual marketing?

According to HubSpot, conversion rates are 20 percent higher on average on pages that use contextual marketing compared with those that don’t. Delivering a highly relevant, helpful message to visitors also provides a better user experience.

It’s also an efficient way to target and address individuals and groups based on common factors. Their web experience can be customized to who they are, what they need, where they’re visiting from and what device they’re using, optimizing their experience and hopefully increasing engagement and conversion rates.


How do I use contextual marketing?

As mentioned, there are many, MANY ways to use contextual marketing. Here, we’ll highlight three real-world use cases currently in place on TREW and client sites.

1. Setting forms based on the visitor’s country

To be GDPR-compliant, we need to show any EU visitors a compliant form, while keeping our default form for all other visitors. We took our existing landing pages and forms , and added in smart content on each. Now, when a visitor located in one of the 26 EU countries visits the page, he/she sees the GDPR-compliant form; when a visitor outside the EU visits, he/she sees the original form.

default and smart content form
Default form on the left; smart content, GDPR-compliant form on the right (this page)


2. Delivering requested resources to contacts we can’t email

One TREW client emails resources to contacts when they submit a form, to increase the legitimacy of the emails in their CRM. However, this meant that a visitor who had unsubscribed to email or had bounced an email in the past would not receive his/her requested resource, causing a frustrating user experience.

To solve this problem, we set up thank-you pages for all resource downloads and made the content smart. When a contact had a valid email, he/she would see a “thank-you” message and would get an email to download the resource. If the visitor had unsubscribed or bounced, however, he/she would see the message and a link to download the resource on the thank-you page. Now, all contacts receive the resource they requested regardless of the company’s ability to email them.

smart content TY page
Default thank-you page text on the left; smart content on the right (this resource)


3. Suggesting relevant next steps to blog post visitors

TREW has published several blog post series on the Smart Marketing blog. Since we always strive to include a relevant call-to-action (CTA) on all blog posts, series posts frequently feature the previous post in the series as a CTA. However, by analyzing visitor paths, we found many visitors had already read the previous post before arriving at the newest in the series.

To better serve these readers, and to keep conversion rates on these posts up, we made these CTAs smart. We left the original CTA suggesting the previous series post in place for the default content, and we swapped in a new CTA to a relevant gated resource for the smart content.

smart content- CTAs
Default CTA on the left; smart content on the right (this page)


There are many other ways to use contextual marketing across email and web, and we’ll be covering contextual marketing strategy on the blog later this year to walk you through setting it up for yourself.

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

Learn More: Marketing Automation