Contextual marketing: what it is, how it is used and what it can benefit you

Javi Del Campo's picture
Javi Del Campo
· 29/10/2020

Finding ourselves by chance and getting the crush like in romantic comedies is something that, in marketing, has gone out of fashion. Companies no longer expect us to find with their products by chance, but are rather looking for a way to reach us and make us fall in love using the best possible path. Contextual marketing is one of those paths and we'll tell you what it consists of.

Contextual marketing

According to Philip Kotler, “Marketing is a social process through which individuals and groups meet their desires and needs.” Contextual marketing seeks to meet those demands, but at a certain point in time, taking advantage of the information and data we have. 

It focuses its efforts on developing real-time actions that work based on the context from which he will perceive that action. With context we mean the time of day, the weather, the location of that person or his or her own consumer profile. That is, we seek to attract the attention of a customer at a certain time.

The idea is to create a marketing strategy that “embraces” the customer and moves away from invasive advertising and is as personalized as possible without them noticing it. Instead of throwing a thousand bullets with a machine gun without a peephole and getting a hit only once, we'll use a sniper rifle to fire as few bullets as possible for better results. With contextual marketing we fine-tune that shot to get a more effective message. We look for the right content for the right people at the right time.

One of the features of contextual marketing is that it uses campaign personalization, which increases results. Knowing exactly who you're talking to and what you need is the cornerstone of that context that gives meaning to this type of marketing. 

Beyond putting the recipient's name in an email marketing campaign, we're talking about customizing the campaign to target him and what he needs, as if it were an ad out of Minority Report. Using your favorite communication channels, offering solutions to your problems, or addressing that person, can become an art and is a must when we talk about contextual marketing.

Differences with inbound marketing 

It's easy to confuse inbound marketing with contextual marketing, so before we go further, we'll explain what is the first one so you don't confuse it with the second one. 

Inbound marketing is focused on loyalty and brand image, using information from our target audience as a weapon. The better we get to know our target, the better we can apply marketing to them to get them to stay with us. Contextual marketing is a momentary action that serves that person at that time. It seeks to maximize the profitability of the strategy does not keep it over time as inbound marketing does. 

A practical example of contextual marketing

Victoria is a 27-year-old single, childless woman who lives in Madrid in a shared flat. She works as an intern at a law firm and in her spare time she is passionate about food, film and live music. 

As a company, you don't have to know all this data, but you do decipher the digital breadcrumbs that Victoria leaves.

Victoria has no plans for Saturday, so check the internet for something to do that weekend. She finds a cooking course that she saves as a favorite on her computer and goes to work. At lunchtime he opens his Instagram account and it shows her an ad for cooking courses. She clicks and reads. A couple of days pass, and at dinner time she visits a recipes site and at the top of it there is an announcement of the cooking course. It's not that the cooking course chases her, it's that it shows up when she needs it.

In this case study, contextual marketing has arrived in ad format at different times, but it can be another type of action, such as a social media campaign with content that our audience has claimed before. 

For example, let's return to the same case of the cooking course. The company that performs them has an Instagram account and throws a question in their stories with two options to choose from in a quick survey. Which recipe do you prefer,  Christmas biscuits or pasta sauces? Whatever the result, the company will offer content in its Instagram account that provides something to the public based on that answer, in this case a recipe. From this content comes the opportunity to announce its Christmas cookies and pastries course or an Italian cooking course for dummies on a date when social meals are frequent, such as December.

Contextual marketing actions are not only limited to the digital sphere, but can be worked by merging traditional media with digital media, the so-called on/off fusion. An example: Victoria finally did one of the cooking courses of a shop-workshop that is a couple of blocks from her way back to work. A month later, when she is walking back from work, she receives a text message when she is near the store informing her that the sales on kitchenware and cookbooks have just started. 

Another simpler example is postcode ad targeting . In this way, this small bakery in the neighborhood can be advertised only to customers who are close to their premises, which facilitates a possible purchase.

Benefits of using contextual marketing in your campaigns

- As it is a format adapted and customized to the moment our target audience lives, it is much less invasive than standard marketing. 

- You target potential customers just as they are about to make a purchase decision, so increase the chances of a sale.

- You send the message the customer needs right when they need it, so it's a personalized marketing action that usually responds to a specific need, the customer will see it as a solution to their problem.

- Because they are non-invasive ads that respond to a customer's need, this type of content becomes more “friendly”, which improves the customer's perception of the brand, because they seek to solve their problem and not simply “sell” to them.

How to include contextual marketing in my digital strategy

The CEO of the consulting firm Edelman, assured CNBC that “brands need to find solutions instead of selling image. They must be tangible and quick, non-generic and conceptual.” To achieve this, data is essential. It's about understanding how your target lives. 

In order to include contextual marketing within our strategy, we need to follow several steps:

-Understand our target. It is essential for any content strategy that we know who we are going to because we will not communicate equally to 17-year-old gamers as to their parents or grandparents. 
-Implement tools to extract data and customize actions. You can use big data, CRM and CMS and even use data that can be extracted from social media campaigns. Ideally, the tools you use will learn on their own thanks to machine learning to simplify the work and improve it over time.
-Create the content strategy. Once we have all the data collected, we will create the content strategy just like any other kind of marketing action, only taking into account that context we are going to work on and performing the customization of the actions.
-Use tools to measure results. As in any action, it is vital that the work does not end with the ad or campaign, but that a report of results is made that will help us improve in future actions.

According to the World Economic Forum , more than 44 zettabytes are generated each day on the net, and these data reflect a person's environment. Your social networks, what you look for on the internet, your interests. Anything can be transformed into data. In order to manage them, we need to use data analysis and segmentation tools, as well as have the necessary knowledge to use that data and achieve results with our actions. 

It is essential to have a team able to handle that data and redirect our content to the customer's need, to make them feel part of the brand and not just a viewer destined to receive and receive mass ads that ends up discarding without even considering them. A team of professionals trained and experienced in different communication styles both in social media, one of the most fertile ways to achieve this type of results, and in digital marketing. 

A team like ours, focused on making the results as exciting as the way to achieve them. Shall we talk?

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