What is contextual marketing?

Contextual marketing is a form of targeted marketing that appears on websites or other media. The advertisements are targeted specifically to the user’s actions and page visits, and searches, prior to seeing the advertisement. 

Many marketers are now also talking about behavioural marketing as the next big step. Using the behaviours of visitors and leads to understand what and when to market to them will assist in conversions. 

By understanding the behaviour and the context of the website visitors you can more specifically target their needs and wants. 

A lot of the problems of traditional marketing are that everything is targeted in general and not tailored. Television advertisements are based on the demographic of the people watching a TV show. There is a big budget to have a one-minute ad, and you will never know the Return on Investment since you can’t tell how many people bought the product because of this advertisement. 

This is where the beauty of online advertisement comes in. Because of the technology we can see who signs up to our newsletters, who purchased a product after clicking on a Google Ad. 

Right place right time

Just like in regular life, often it comes down being in the right place at the right time. The same can be said for marketing. Sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time. 

With regards to contextual marketing, this comes down to having a detailed buyer’s persona and buyer’s journey. When you know who your target audience is, you can start changing your messages to appeal to them. Writing for teenagers means you write differently than when you write for people in aged care for example. 

When delivering content, it is also important to deliver the content at the right time. Making sure that there is the maximum chance of converting a prospect to a lead or a lead to a customer.  

The way that you can deliver the right message, at the right time to the right person is a key aspect of contextual marketing and behavioural marketing. 

Marketing Automation

One of the easiest ways to start with contextual marketing is by using marketing automation. Marketing Automation allows marketers to gather and capture as much data as possible without having manually entered the data. 

For example: using HubSpot you can gather the data of users clicking on Paid Ads in Google. You will see which keywords are being typed in and which pages were being visited on the website. This is done through to integrations, but once this is all set up there is nothing for you to worry about. 

HubSpot will work in the background. This will provide you and your team with all the required information that will assist you with tailoring your messages to specific users. 

With the data that HubSpot provides, you can really dive deep into contextual marketing and behavioural marketing. Below we will provide a few examples of behavioural and contextual marketing.  

All the below information is fictional and doesn’t relate to any customer that visited our website. 

  • On Monday morning we notice that a visitor has visited our services page and looked at our Videography services. Because this user also signed up to our mailing list and because of this, we know that we can target this user with Videography blog posts and white papers. 
  • On Wednesday morning we see that there has been a user, who is already a customer of ours, that has filled out most of our contact form, but they left the contact form. Before the contact form, we saw that this person was very interested in our Inbound marketing services. They looked at all the pages and read three blog posts. Because of this information, we decide to call the customer and we manage to convince them to use our Inbound Marketing Services 

The two examples above, show how contextual marketing works and why it is so powerful. You are able to target users based on the content they read, and the pages they visit. Because of this, you are more likely to provide relevant information. 

Rather than guessing what your customers are interested in. You can see what they are interested in and use that information to send them relevant messages at the right time. 

Contextual Marketing and Privacy Legislation

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to contextual marketing is the fact that it takes a lot of data to be able to effectively use contextual marketing. With recent privacy issues such as Facebook’s Data scandals in 2018, there is concern over using so much user data. Even though these concerns make sense, there is no cause for worry. 

When using user data it is important to assure that you keep the following things in mind:

  1. Use double opt-in. Once when the user signs up on the website and once in their mailbox
  2. Be specific about what you will email them. Make it clear what the user is subscribing to
  3. Don't share the data with third-parties. Without consent or explicit approval, you shouldn't share data with third-party vendors
  4. Be transparent with users what their data will be used for. 

By following the steps above you will be open and honest with your users and they know what they can expect from you when they provide you with their data. 

Make sure that you have your address at the bottom of your emails and a clear unsubscribe button. There is no need to make it complicated for your subscribers to unsubscribe. Make sure that every aspect of your customer service is frictionless. 

Providing value to your customer

One of the most important aspects of Inbound marketing is providing value to your customers. Contextual marketing is about having a customer-centric approach. Whereas traditional marketing as a product-centric approach. 

This is why contextual marketing and inbound marketing really work well together. By having a customer-centric marketing approach you are able to provide your customers with genuine and helpful content. This will make your customers trust you more, and thus spend more money with your business. 

If you know that your customers are visiting your website often and are looking at content related to email marketing. Wouldn’t it make sense to ask them if they are interested in an eBook with email marketing information? This would possibly get you a sign up to your newsletter. It would also provide that customer with genuine value and make them trust, and like, you more. 

In the end, using contextual and behavioural marketing will make you able to provide more value to your customer by assisting them when they are having issues, or problems, with which you can help them. Businesses now need to focus on solving issues with their products, rather than listing the amazing benefits of their product. 

Each customer that comes to your website has different reasons for coming to your website, and thus there are different expectations that users have. Someone that is merely a website visitor, and has never heard of your business before, will more likely want to find out more about an issue that they have and how they can solve it. 

A prospect is more interested in gathering more information about you as a business and in particular how your product can help them solve their issues. This could be as simple as finding out why your Voice Assistant is better than Google’s or Amazon’s voice assistant.  

A returning customer probably has a question about your product or is looking to see if they can buy extensions or additional features of the product or service you offer. These are all visitors to your website, but the value you can provide them with all has a different focus. 

This is why it is important to make sure that you segment your database and your email campaigns as well. Since segmenting your database means that you will be tailoring your content and the user’s experience specifically to what they are after. 

Using customer insight to segment your database

When you have all the visitors coming to your website, you will start collecting a lot of information about those users that you can use to specifically market to them. Especially if they sign up with their email address. This provides you with the ability to really segment your customer base and specifically target them. 

Even though we are talking about segmentation, it doesn’t mean that you need to put each individual client into their own segment. Because this would mean that you need to tailor every email and message and can’t really automate your experience. Having to manually write every email will be very time-consuming. 

If you are able to segment your database to the extent that you know that certain users are interested in similar topics you are able to send emails to individual users and make them sound personalised you will have a big advantage over competitors who send blast emails. 

This is done very well by, for example, Amazon. Amazon is great at contextual marketing. If you are on a product page you will see “Other customers also bought” and, if you buy a book, you can also see how well the book is performing in the Kindle store.  

All this context makes it easier for the customer to believe that the product is worthwhile. It also makes sure that the customer has as many social references as possible. 


Remarketing is a popular tool that marketers use to contextually target website visitors. Remarketing is targeting website visitors who have not made a purchase or enquiry when they visited your website. It makes you able to target ads in front of a specific audience that has previously visited your website. These ads are placed in other places around the internet. 

Remarketing uses website tracking to understand which pages website visitors have viewed while on your website. This is the reason that, for example, you would see advertisements of eBay or Amazon on other websites. 

There are multiple ways you can track visitors on your website, depending on where you want to remarket.  

  • Google Ads – Google Ads allows you to retarget visitors around the web. Google has different options for this.  
    • Ads Network – This is remarketing on Google itself 
    • Display Network – This is remarketing on other websites 
  • Facebook Pixel – Facebook Pixel allows you to target website visitors on the world’s largest social media network. By using Facebook Pixel you can retarget Facebook users and put advertisements in their Facebook feed. 
  • Email remarketing – If you have users who have previously purchased products, but have fallen off the face of the earth, you can remarket to them. Sending people who have purchased at least two products over the last 2 months but dropped off for 2 months an email with a discount code can be effective, for example. 

Remarketing is a great tool, you can get very granular with your specific. You can retarget people who made a purchase, who signed up as a lead, who completed registration, added payment info, products that were added to the cart and many more options. 

By using website tracking, you are able to understand your website visitors more detailed. There are various tools that you can use to track website users. Below we will list a few of our favourites. 

  • Google Analytics – Most marketers know Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to see the number of website visitors are on your website at one moment. How they got to your website, which pages are popular and what the average bounce rate is. 
  • Heatmap tracking – Heatmaps allow you to look at all the pages that users visit, how far they scroll down and where they click on individual pages. Some tools also allow you to ask for feedback on pages. You can also see how conversion funnels are performing. 
  • Content interaction – there are tools that allow you to specifically see how users are interacting with your content. 
  • A/B testing – Just as you can A/B test your emails, there are also tools that allow you to A/B test website pages. Use the same approach as A/B testing emails. One element at a time, for at least a month. 

Location-based searches

The following is very relevant for businesses that are either brick-and-mortar stores or restaurants. With the rise of voice searching, location-based searches have also increased. This is another form of contextualised marketing. When someone uses voice search to search for a restaurant near them. The location of the user is highly relevant.  

Even though traditional searches can be considered targeted, having a user voice search for a location near them is more specific than someone searching: “Restaurant Manhattan”. The rise of voice searches has made the location element of the searches more relevant.  

Using customer insights

After having collected all the relevant information to contextually and behaviourally market to your customers. It is time to start using these customer insights. By making sure that you have all the data collected in one handy tool, such as HubSpot, you are able to effectively use the data that you have to market to individuals. 

Below are a few actionable tips that you can use to start marketing to the people whose data you have. 

  • Write personalised content – This is, of course, a no-brainer and incredibly important, but by writing personalised content you are able to more specifically target the users. If a user leaves a specific webpage, and they have left their email address, you can deliver them relevant information on the products or services offered on that webpage. This also works for when users sign up. Provide them with relevant and helpful content from the get-go. 
  • Remarket effectively – Start experimenting with Google remarketing and Facebook retargeting. The benefits will outweigh the cost. Here are some great tips on making effective Display Ads. 
  • A/B test everything – Without actionable data you are unable to make informed decisions. If you are starting off contextual marketing. Make sure that you A/B test all the content, all the Calls to Action and every aspect of your website. Data doesn’t lie. 
  • Use Marketing Automation – having all this data and information at your fingertips is great, but analysing all this data will take a lot of time and effort. By using a marketing automation platform you can automate a lot of the emails and data collecting, leaving you time to analyse and optimise. 


Contextual and behavioural marketing is making a resurgence because of Data Privacy legislation. Being able to more specifically target users and providing the users with relevant information will make sure that you stand out in the crowd and attract more leads. 

Follow the information as noted above and you will be on the road to success. Do you have any actionable tips that have given you great results? Share them below!