There are a vast array of businesses out there competing for buyer attention online. Everyone wants their site to be ranking first, and to have the biggest presence, but how many are considering how well they are doing with the next step?
How well are you paying attention to keeping the visitor interested after they hit the first page of your website?
This isn’t a question aimed at either B2B or B2C, it actually doesn’t matter. Regardless of the product you’re selling, you probably need to capture the attention of a person with very little time on their hands.
Let’s face it, even if you’re ranking first in Google, if someone hits your homepage and can’t figure out if you’re going to answer their question, or be relevant to them, they will go back and find another search result.
Just getting visitors to your website is no longer enough.
You need a bigger game plan.
You need to make them see that you’re relevant and able to help them specifically.
You need to have the right context.
Described as delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time, contextual marketing is basically using what you know about your prospects, leads and customers to make your content relevant to them.
If the jargon has thrown you off a bit there, contextual marketing is a term which HubSpot use (and have a certification for, if you fancy delving into it further), but I have also heard personalisation and smart content used to reference similar ideas.
Think about it. Someone who is going to close as a customer in the next few days is going to be looking at your site in a very different way to someone who has just found it through organic search. The live prospect may be very interested in case studies and the ins and outs of your product, while the first time visitor is more likely to want to see if you can help them fix their specific problem.
By using context to create content tailored to those varying needs, you can really boost your conversion rates and stop losing visitors who feel overwhelmed by a wealth of technical information on their first visit.
That all may seem a little easier said than done.
How can you actually start using context in your marketing to really speak to your buyers?
Before I delve into the next section, which goes into how to start putting together a plan for implementing contextual marketing it’s worth me saying here that this next part is very specific to HubSpot, as this is the platform we work with and encourage our clients to use.
How to put together a contextual marketing plan.
Who are you targeting?
Segmentation is crucial for personalising your marketing with context. If you don’t know who you’re focusing on, how can you tailor it?
There are various ways you can decide to segment your data. Here are a few examples:
This can be a great one if you get lots of visits to your site from mobile and want to streamline a landing page so that there is less text and a shorter form if the visitor is on a smaller screen.
This one is a bit of a hidden gem in the crown of HubSpot’s Smart content options. If you’re running a very targeted campaign across say, LinkedIn then you can customise a page based on whether they came from that or not.
- Lifecycle stage
A great starting point, and the one I’m actually going to use as an example for this blog post. Lifecycle stage is a standard property in HubSpot, which highlights which stage of a buying cycle a person is at. You can read more about this here.
For the purpose of this article, I’ve stuck with lifecycle stage and have chosen the following three segments:
- Unknown visitors
You always need to have a default with Smart content, mainly because this is what will be indexed by Google, and needs to be applicable to anyone.
- Sales Qualified Leads
These are live prospects and will most likely be in talks with your sales team. You’ll want the content for this segment to be helping them on their path to buying, but will treat them slightly differently as someone who is brand new to your site.
Taking into account the delight stage of the inbound methodology, you don’t want to forget contacts once they become a customer. The opportunity for future sales and even them becoming a referrer should mean that you are wording sections of your site so that they don’t feel forgotten once they have closed as a customer.
What data do you need?
Often overlooked, a crucial part of making a workable plan for implementing contextual marketing is knowing exactly what information you need in order to create your segments.
There is a great article from HubSpot here, which talks you through how to do progressive profiling using smart fields in your forms. It might mean that if you’re wanting to segment based on industry for example, you need to ensure that you collect that information at the right point.
Progressive profiling is also a great way to collect information without having lots of very long forms on your site, which will also help you with your user experience and improve conversions!
For our example, we would need to make sure that all of our contacts have the correct lifecycle stage assigned. This would involve having a process which marks customers as such when they close, or as a sales qualified lead once they have been picked up by sales.
I've spoken before about the benefits of analysing your marketing data in order to positively impact your next step. You may even find that you have already gathered some interesting trends and insight which could help your marketing, so a marketing audit may be a good idea.
Which page(s) will you start with?
As I’m sure you’re starting to see, contextual marketing can quickly become complicated when you’re aiming at multiple segments, so it’s always a good idea to start small.
Using my example, we are looking at personalising for 3 different audiences, so that’s already a lot of content for one landing page, let alone if you want to roll it out across all site pages!
Consider where you can start making the most impact and go from there. This might be a landing page for a guide which would be really useful for all segments and would benefit from slightly different wording for each to help conversions. It may even be your homepage if you’re segmenting by source and want to show visitors from a specific campaign a very specific first message.
How are you going to personalise it?
So you’ve got your chosen segment and know which page you’re going to customise first, now it’s time to decide which elements of the page you are going to make Smart...
A simple, but arguably the most effective way to see a positive lift in conversions and helpfulness to your visitors.
Phrasing can be everything.
Let’s take your homepage as a quick example, thinking of the module at the top of the page.
A new visitor will need to know exactly what sort of problems you help people to solve within seconds, so that they know you are worth their attention.
Someone in conversation with your sales team could be checking out your website to validate what the sales team have been saying. Getting the same messaging on your site so that your business is appearing consistent could be crucial.
It may be a good idea to tell a known customer about a recent company update, or to direct them to details of information of an upsell which complements a product they already have.
This is a quick way to build conversions. If a lead has already downloaded an offer, show them a different CTA so that they are encouraged to download something that makes sense as a follow-up!
A Smart form can be something as simple as not asking a returning visitor to fill out all of the same fields every time they complete a form. If you have the information, you don’t need to ask again.
Remember, progressive profiling can help you to build a great bank of useful information about a contact which can be used to help them without forms seeming overwhelming.
If you have a video on your homepage, why not have it tailored so that a case study appears for leads and an awareness stage video for visitors which helps them to address their problems?
The key to all of this is thinking about your segments. How would a customer be attracted to an offer differently to a new visitor to your site? What would be important to someone who is currently considering buying your product or services?
Note: Make sure you’re sensible with this. Greeting your visitors with their name on your homepage can come across as a little creepy, so keep obvious personalisation to areas where it makes sense like a thank you page or once they've logged in to a gated section of your site.
Check your conversion path
Now that you’ve got all of your elements ready, consider what each segment will do in order to get to that page, and where they will go next.
Do you need a smart CTA to get them there in the first place?
Does that CTA need to be smart in order to match the way you’re phrasing the offer on the page?
Putting yourself in the shoes of each segment will help make your personalisation watertight and logical.
Just to re-cap...
Always remember that you’re the last person your marketing is for. Make sure that every aspect from the the design and layout of your website, to the copy is relevant to your target persona, and tailored to the individual to really boost that user experience and ultimately lead to better results in line with your business aims.
This is often a very underutilised strategy in marketing, and for a very good reason - it can get complicated and demanding on your resources very quickly.
The sure-fire way to do well with this and learn what works, is to start small. Build up the way in which you are using context to tailor your marketing. If you can do that, you can really start seeing an impact on the number of people engaging with your marketing.