The context of your content matters just as much as its quality. Contextualized content marketing is a more in-depth look at the importance of relevance. Leading digital marketers have been shouting from their rooftops for years about creating relevant content if we expect our marketing strategies to work.
Michael Brito, Senior Vice President for Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital wrote in 2011, “Consumers who live in the (digital) stream … are inundated daily with thousands upon thousands of marketing messages. As a result, they are filtering out the content that is really not relevant to them. Everything else is noise and usually ignored.”
Your content can’t just be informative, useful, and engaging, it has to play a significant role in the consumer’s life at that moment in time that it is consumed. That’s the only way your message in a bottle is going to be opened.
The shift to contextualized marketing is the digital marketing community, as a whole, doing two things:
- Waking up to the paramount importance of relevance
- Actually being able to deliver contextualized content thanks to the more sophisticated technology that is available today
Marketers have always grasped how essential it is to be relevant and meaningful. The issue has been devising a way to consistently deliver meaningful contextualized content. Something that can only be done if marketing teams either develop psychic abilities or leverage technology to better understand their customers.
With the digital solutions available today, as well as the evolution of modern marketing to a more communal, customer-brand environment – one where consumers now expect more interactions with the brands they love through social media interactions, web forums, webinars and in-person events – we’re all getting to know each other a lot better. Which has made the shift to contextualized marketing possible?
Why You Need Better Context
Context isn’t just something that can make your marketing better. It is what you need to keep those heard-earned leads and loyal customers you’ve worked so diligently to acquire. Once a brand becomes a part of the noise, it runs the risk of getting the boot.
- 69 percent of consumers are hitting the unfollow button on their social media accounts, purging their brand contacts
- 58 percent are choosing to opt out of a lot of their marketing email communications
- 69 percent are ending their subscriptions because they simply don’t like the communications they are getting
We all know how much reaction a tree that falls in a lonely forest gets. If consumers are not listening, your content marketing is losing its purpose.
How to Deliver Contextualized Marketing
Contextualized marketing is what happens when marketers find a way to offer the right content, for the right audience, at the right time. Its meaning and relevance have to be crystal clear when it is consumed. For example, an accounting firm may publish content on its website and social channels offering tax advice in late February through to mid-April. This is certainly relevant content.
But, the accounting firm that tracks when each client has had their taxes prepared in previous years and sends out a personalized message two weeks before that date to remind them to make an appointment is going to have an extremely busy tax season. There’s the customer’s reminder, discount and/or tip and advice, offered through personalized content. The message is clicked on and opened exactly when they would want it and need it to make their life easier.
The only way to do this successfully is to gather a more diverse and holistic set of data on consumers, both individual clients, especially in the B2B context, and the whole target market.
To increase the relevance of your content marketing, you need to know:
- Your buyer persona essentials: demographics, pain points, your buyers’ goals and objectives, obstacles, preferences, and questions
- Where conversations relevant to your brand are taking place, whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, websites, or community forums
- Who the existing and emerging marketing influencers are and everything you can learn about them – both the quantitative data such as the number of followers, as well as the qualitative information, such as the unique characteristics that make this influencer so influential with your market
- What channels are being used to make purchase decisions
- What devices are your buyers trending towards – this set of possibilities is starting to change with the growing popularity of wearables in addition to mobile phones, tablets, and those old-fashioned things some people still use called laptops
To gather this information, marketers have a variety of resources:
Marketing software isn’t just useful for email automation – the solutions available today make it easy to create detailed personas, to segment effectively, and to keep track of personalized information about your buyers. The personalized info is where the real meaty stuff is for contextualized marketing. When you know ‘when’ consumers make decisions, draft budgets, or make purchases you can deliver ‘at the right time.’ When you know why they make decisions or what motivates action, you can master ‘the right content for the right audience.’
Customer feedback channels, when used creatively, can yield gems of customer data. Encourage conversations on your buyers’ preferred social channels. Yes, it’s true, all the feedback may not be what you want the public to see but you may get that authentic insight into your market’s wants and needs to help improve your content’s context.
Keep your surveys and questionnaires concise but make sure you leave space for written feedback. This is where you may uncover information to help you better segment your contact list. For example, some individuals may reveal themselves to be brand advocates. Empower them with targeted content such as eBooks, white papers, and info on relevant webinars or in-person events to help them learn even more about your brand.
Others may turn out to be churn-ready. They probably don’t want to know about your latest case study and won’t be registering for your next event. But, they may appreciate a special offer and an authentic ‘thank-you’ to let them know they are a valued customer.
And finally, talk to your customers as much as possible. From in-store conversations to Skype meetings with clients, take advantage of – and reach out in order to create – more opportunities to learn more about what your buyers want.
Contextualized Marketing Examples in Action
It’s poetry in motion. Look at how these brands used context to deliver a better consumer experience.
Nike Plus is a digital platform the brand has created to engage and motivate their consumer base. Nike learns more about their consumers via their health device usage and then offers tailored fitness contests, news about Nike events, and social sharing to keep members engaged. It creates a community for their loyal customers and warm leads – giving exactly the right people exactly the right content.
Airbnb’s use of local marketing is brilliant. The brand partnered with Google to target people when looking on their phone for directions in NYC with a local Hosted Walks video.
QuickBooks’ Find a ProAdvisor directory offers their top customers – their ProAdvisors – a powerful marketing tool to help them add context to their content. The tool shows where people are searching for accountants and what area of expertise they are looking for. It’s also a platform for customer reviews. This feeds data to both QuickBooks and their clients.
Be More Contextual
For the brands who create innovative ways to learn more, and use that information to better relate to their target, there’s so much to gain. Make the context of your content a bigger focus in your content marketing. Gather more relevant insight and take advantage of technology to leverage that information. If you are lacking information, create the interactions points, whether through a digital app, brand contests, marketing events and more. You can never stop learning more about the people who make your business successful.