There’s no doubt that the digital marketing landscape is far different than it was just a few short years ago.
Where it was once possible to use paid ads and a few blog posts to get the word out about your brand, today you need a robust content marketing plan to really see results.
Which is how the process of utilizing contextual content came about.
Marketers realize that getting the right message to the right people at the right time is the most crucial way to cut through all the competition — and contextual content solves this.
Furthermore, personalized messaging is much more likely to resonate with consumers who are tired of being constantly approached with digital clutter on a daily basis.
When a message meets their needs in an immediate and customized way, they are much more likely to take action.
Not sure what the process entails for brands and businesses?
That’s okay. We have come up with this guide to help you out.
Here’s what you need to know about contextual content and why it is such a powerful way to captivate your audience.
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What is Contextual Content?
Contextual content is marketing content that adapts to the current location, channel, and needs of the audience.
In short, it gives people the information they’re looking for at the moment, even if they don’t realize they need it at that time.
Have you ever wondered why you get social media ads for umbrellas when it is raining or for a particular restaurant when you’re driving in the area?
These are both examples of contextual ads that adapt to specific circumstances of the user and what they are experiencing in the current moment.
Contextual content is different from traditional marketing in that it works to adapt to very specific circumstances.
This is in direct contrast to the classical norms of marketing, which only work to bombard the client with brand recognition on a very broad basis.
For marketers, the end result of contextual content is a better connection to the needs of your target audience.
This is key, as people are more likely to make a purchase at the exact moment they need something than later on when they’re trying to remember who offered a specific product.
Is Personalization the Key to Contextual Content?
There is one method that makes contextual content even more powerful in conveying the right message and that’s personalization.
In fact, it is so important that you could easily say it is the absolute must to ensure the entire process works.
Essentially, the whole concept of contextual content means adjusting the format and substance of your message to the exact micro needs of a specific user, not the macro desires of a mass group.
Personalization makes this happen by helping you narrow down the buyer persona segment you’re most trying to reach.
In the end, this allows them to get the information they need when it most makes sense.
Need an example?
Let’s say you’ve collected data on people who like widgets.
In response to a survey you sent out, three people prefer red widgets and seven like blue ones.
You could use personalization in this instance to offer a discount on red widgets to those three people who like them best and a separate message with a similar coupon to those who like blue.
This will likely result in shoppers making purchases, which wouldn’t be as likely to happen if you only had one message sent out to the whole group of ten.
And this is just one example of the power of personalized messaging!
Data behavior and contextual content
Of course, we can’t talk about personalizing content to meet audience needs without discussing the importance of data behavior, too.
Data behavior is how a particular member of your target market behaves in terms of how they search for things online, the way they interact with your brand, the choices they make in terms of product selection, and more.
Think of it as the key that unlocks the door to true marketing personalization.
If you’re currently tracking this type of data, then it becomes incredibly easy to start using more customized messaging in your contextual content.
By having the critical information necessary for segmenting your groups, you can help ensure that your targeted buyer persona is getting the messaging necessary for their needs.
How to Create Contextual Content
To be considered contextual content, the information needs to be timely, authoritative, and relevant.
When creating your content piece — whether that is an ad, video, interactive quiz, or whatever else — you’ll want to follow the same process to ensure you’re really getting the right message out into the world.
Of course, this requires a few steps that are virtually identical, no matter what you’re trying to market.
Clearly define your audience
One of the most key aspects of contextual content is defining your target market and creating unique buyer personas.
Before you produce an individual piece, it is essential to understand which persona specifically you’re talking to and why your message matters to them.
To make this happen, consider segmenting your audience.
For example, you might break it down to those who are in a specific state or area.
Or you could use those who purchased a specific item from your brand or submitted a request for a particular white paper download.
Choose segments that make the most sense for what you’re trying to achieve.
Decide which channel is best
Using contextual content in your digital marketing campaigns also means deciding which channel is best to reach your buyer persona.
Are they primarily on Facebook or are you sending out an email blast to certain subscribers?
Is your audience young and using TikTok or are they professionals who are primarily on LinkedIn?
You’ll want to know this ahead of time when it comes to creating your campaigns, as the type of message and format you choose will need to match that platform.
However, keep in mind that you can sometimes achieve the same result by creating an identical or similar message with an omnichannel approach if your target buyer is active on multiple platforms.
Choose a format for your content
The next step in creating contextual content is deciding the format you want to use.
Some buyer personas respond better to blog posts, while others need videos, quizzes, or other interactive content to stay engaged.
Remember, contextual content is all about getting your message in front of the right people at the right time.
By deciding on one or two different approaches to the type of contextual content you’re creating, you can really reach a much wider audience.
Decide on variable elements
Part of what makes contextual content so intriguing is that it is truly tailored to the exact buyer you’re trying to target.
To make this happen on a wider scale, you can use variable elements within your messaging.
For example, you might choose to show someone in a location that is typically snowy in the winter an ad for a snow shovel.
But you wouldn’t want to advertise that same item to someone in a warmer climate, like Phoenix, Arizona.
Instead, you could use a variable to show those segmented customers something along the lines of a patio umbrella.
Create the content
The next step in the process is to actually create the content itself.
While this part will largely depend on your brand’s creative vision and usual method for creating finished deliverables, the main focus is still the same.
➤ Write the copy or create the media as if you were talking to just that one buyer persona.
It’s like writing an email message to a coworker versus writing a letter to your grandma.
You would likely have a different tone, message structure, or even word choice with one over the other.
This is really a key point in contextual content that a lot of marketers miss, simply because they’re too preoccupied with reaching a large group of individuals all at once.
Publish and track results
After the content is completed, the next logical step is simply to release it out into the world, whether that is:
- Publishing it on your website.
- Sending out an email blast.
- Or just launching an ad campaign.
Once it is out there, you’ll want to ensure you’re tracking the results of the campaign.
This is super crucial and a step that a lot of teams forget, which is why we’re including it as part of the contextual content process.
Why is it important?
When you know what works well with a segmented portion of your audience, you can adjust the same message to try to attract different buyer groups.
Often, contextual content that works well with one group only needs a few minor changes to be effective with another.
This is the best approach to have if you have a pretty wide target market or are looking to really save time in the creation of different types of customized content over the long haul.
Contextual Content Examples
Of course, what would an ultimate guide on contextual content be without a few key examples?
Here are a few of our favorite approaches to personalized marketing campaigns and digital advertising.
Contextual content in apps
Is your brand thinking about creating an app for customers or do you already have one?
This can be an amazing way to utilize contextual content in a super meaningful way.
Think geofences that switch sections of the program to a store map when a customer enters your retail location.
Or an in-app scanning tool that makes it easy for users to get a discount when there’s a specific QR code in front of them.
As a bonus tip, Ion is a great example of a robust marketing app that helps businesses create interactive content experiences. Make sure to check it out!
The use of interactive quizzes is another excellent way to utilize contextual content.
Best of all, they even work if you don’t have a lot of personalized data to go off of.
Start by inviting a general buyer group to your website to take an interactive quiz. With each branch of the quiz or question they answer, they’re refining the information that you’re presenting to them.
In the end, the final results provide a highly personalized piece of content that suits the needs and desires they’ve selected throughout the interaction.
Where these can be especially awesome is eCommerce.
For example, you could use a quiz to refine down a short list of products that the customer would deem as must-have.
All by simply asking questions about colors, styles, needs, and more.
Geotargeting and Geofencing
Another two linked types of contextual marketing involve the use of geotargeting and geofencing.
This is where target customers are given specific information based on where they live or even the current neighborhood they’re in at a specific moment.
A lot of big brands like Walmart, Target, McDonalds, and others use these types of contextual marketing to captivate shoppers.
Linked with an individual’s smartphone GPS coordinates, the two processes make it simple to really get in front of those who are nearby a brick-and-mortar location.
Personalized website experiences
Your brand is probably already using contextual content without even realizing it.
For example, if you serve customers in multiple countries, you might already have a tool on your website that determines the visitor’s country and adjusts the language of the copy on the page to meet what’s native in their region.
You might also have certain sections of a dashboard or cart that change when a customer signs into their account on your eCommerce store.
Or you could even have a different page layout with individualized content for those who are on smartphone devices versus those on a desktop browser.
These are all good examples of how contextual content can be as simple or as detailed as you really want it to be.
Specific landing pages based on marketing campaigns
Maybe your audience is really similar in terms of how they find new information, products, and services.
And that’s okay.
However, you can still use contextual content to your advantage by pairing up specific landing pages based on individual marketing campaigns.
Here’s an example to consider.
Let’s say you have one campaign that is designed to reach homeowners in New York who need pest control services.
When they follow a social media ad, they receive a landing page with an opportunity to fill out a quote form.
You’ve already used targeting to ensure these people live within a specific area when they saw the initial ad, so you can be pretty confident that they’ll choose to find out information about services from your field office in their local area.
Likewise, let’s say you’re running an ad for similar services in Arizona.
You can tailor the imagery of the second landing page to include photos of cacti, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and other desert creatures.
See where this makes sense? This is just another example of a strong contextual content strategy.
Wrap Up: Captivating your Audience with Contextual Content
As you can tell, contextual content is an amazing way to offer your audience exactly what they’re looking for the moment they need it.
In turn, this improves the chances that they’ll buy from or engage with your brand, as you’re giving them the solution to their needs in a very immediate way.
The true key to creating winning contextual content campaigns really relies on being able to use customer or target audience data to craft a completely unique brand experience.
When a marketing team adopts this type of content strategy, they can really find unique and interesting ways to engage their target market on a much more granular level.
In turn, this can lead to increased sales, improved customer satisfaction, and a clear way to really outshine the competition that isn’t using a similar strategy.
Best of all, brands big and small can all find ways to incorporate personalized content into their marketing campaigns on both major and minor levels.
Are you ready to create better content for your customers by using contextual content? Then read our article on consumer behavior data!