Six Ways to Get Started With Contextual Marketing

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Angela Hicks
Angela Hicks



You’ve heard about contextual marketing for a few years now, In fact, the year 2016 has been referred to as the year in which marketers enter the “Age of Context.” 



Understanding your website user's needs, interests and habits is more important than ever and is the key to presenting personalized, relevant content to all website visitors.

But, how does a company get started with creating content that adapts to each user? Better question: how can you get started?

We’re going to explore some major factors that will impact how successful your contextual marketing strategy can be. Before you create any contextual marketing, there are six statements about your company’s current marketing efforts that should be true. If you can say all of these with certainty, you're ready for contextual marketing!

“My company has set up lifecycle stages.”

Why: Lifecycle stages provide context about your contacts in terms of where they are in your sales cycle. Your contacts in HubSpot have the correct lifecycle stage set so you can easily segment blog subscribers from leads, customers from sales qualified leads and more. When you’re able to segment your contacts, you can ensure that you’re presenting the right content to that segment.

Get started: Create a smart list of your customers. Your list criteria will be: the contact property lifecycle stage | is equal to | Customer.  Here's what that should look like:


Is the list empty? If you find that you don’t have any contacts with the lifecycle stage of “Customer,” then you won’t be able to reach this segment. (Click here if you need some help setting up a Customer smart list.)

Next steps: Set up lifecycle stages for your company in order to segment those groups and create content for them. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, walk through the user guide to set up your company’s lifecycle stages in HubSpot.

“Buyer personas have been created for my company.”

Why: Buyer personas represent your ideal customer. Developing your buyer persona(s) with great detail provides the path to create insights of your ideal customer’s needs and preferences. A well-planned buyer persona will enable you to tailor messaging and provide personalized marketing to them. The great part about adding your buyer personas in HubSpot is that the smart lists are set up automatically for each persona that you create.

How to prepare: Take a look at the bottom of your HubSpot Dashboard.  Locate the "Top Personas" section of the dashboard to see how many of each persona you have in your contact database. Much like lifecycle stages, if you don’t have your contacts assigned to the persona, then you won’t be able to reach them. The placement of "Top Personas" can vary since the Dashboard is customizable in HubSpot. After visiting the Dashboard, you'll be able to find your Top Personas in HubSpot:


Next steps: Add buyer personas to HubSpot and assign the personas to your contacts. If you haven’t created buyer personas yet, the Buyer Persona Project will help you do so. There are a few ways to assign personas to your contacts and you can learn how here.

“Our contact database is ‘clean’ and audited regularly.”

Why:Bad” contact data results in bad marketing: undeliverable emails, irrelevant content and more issues. If a contact enters “123” as their first name, is your email going to read “Hello 123,” like the one below?
The email will look that way without maintaining your contact properties. In addition to poor personalization efforts, you might miss out on some segmentation options as well.

Just remember that your segments for creating targeted, contextual marketing are only as good as the data you collect.

How to prepare:
 Evaluate your contacts database on a regular basis. For some companies,
this may be once a month, for others once a quarter. You’ll want to identify and incorrect information (like “123” as a first name) and determine contact property data that is missing. If you would like to segment your contacts by industry, but don’t ask about industry on your forms, you’ll need to begin collecting that data about your contacts.

Plan to evaluate your database regularly. You may want to export a small list of contacts as a sample to start assessing your database health. Do you already know that your contacts database is a mess and you haven’t gotten around to cleaning up yet? There’s a Database Clean-up Project designed to get your database cleaned right up!

“We have optimized our content for search engines and users alike.”

Why: There's a lot to do in order to help your business get found on search engines. The entire marketing industry writes a lot about SEO and it's a quick-changing landscape. Don't get stuck trying to navigate SEO. Instead, read 17 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2016 to ensure your optimization practices are up-to-date. But don't forget about the humans visiting your website. When optimizing content, don't think solely in terms of a search engine result. How does your message educate first-time customers? Get your content optimized for search engines and users before adding any contextual marketing. The "default content" will be what is shown to website users that you aren't targeting and also what search engines will see.  

How to prepare: Optimize your HubSpot content by clicking the optimize button on the left of your blog post, website or landing page. Here's where to find that in HubSpot:


Follow the search engine performance suggestions and consider how your users will engage with the content too!

“We have identified our top-performing content across our website.”

Why: There's a direct correlation between top-performing content and what your users are finding helpful and relevant. Website pages with high views, blog posts with high views or clicks, and landing pages with high submission rates are aligned with what your users are looking for. Once you identify top-performing content you'll be able to create more content around that topic to replicate the results. Additionally, you'll have direction for where to start adding contextual marketing. The top-performing pages and posts are a great place to begin segmenting the viewers and providing more tailored, personalized content to them. 

How to prepare: Identify blog posts, website and landing pages that perform well. 

To identify blog posts, with high clicks or high views, head to Content > Blog and click the "Analyze" tab. There will be a section for each: "Top Posts by Views" and "Top Posts by Click-throughs".


View Reports > Page Performance in HubSpot and sort by the number of  views, from highest to lowest. This will display your pages with the highest number of views. You can change the date range to evaluate specific months, a several month span, or your top views for all time. 


And to find your top-performing Landing Pages, visit Content > Landing Pages from the top-navigation in HubSpot and click the "Analyze" tab. Analysis of your landing pages will provide insight into which pages have had high submission rates. 



“My company website has evaluated the navigation to ensure a good user experience.”

Why:  For a moment, consider the old philosophical adage, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" A similar question could be asked of your contextual marketing. "If a marketer creates outstanding content that no one can see, does the content exist?" The content doesn't exist, as far as your visitors are concerned. Don't miss out on opportunities to get the right content in front of the right person due to a poor navigational experience.  

How to prepare: Click around your website! Some marketers and graphic designers spend so much time on their company's website creating content that they could navigate with their eyes closed. If you don't fall into that category, try clicking through your CTAs. Did it lead you where you expected it would? Also, how is your navigation menu performing? Are you able to navigate around easily?

Next, check Reports > Page Performance in HubSpot. Sort by the number of views from lowest to highest and from highest to lowest. Here's how to do that in HubSpot:


Are there any surprises? Pages with surprisingly low views might have a simple problem: there's no way to navigate to them! Update your navigation menu (when appropriate) or create CTAs to promote the content that is seemingly absent. 

Contextual marketing is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” strategy. As you identify more segments you want to reach and create content that is tailored especially for them, you’ll update your strategy accordingly. In the meantime, prepare your company content with the suggestions above and you’ll be in great shape to start applying contextual marketing to your website.

Have you been using contextual marketing already? Do you have a smart CTA on your website? Have you created a smart form for a landing page? Let us know your approach to getting started with contextual marketing in the comments!

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