The power of contextual marketing in financial services

Bridgette Ellis

Account Executive

Posted on January 6, 2017

Audiences are becoming more and more impatient with the irrelevant. If they’re triggered to think “This doesn’t matter to me” too often and too consistently, they’ll simply zone out, look elsewhere, or even deliberately block out the noise of the irritation.

This is a problem for financial marketers. We want to maintain a connection with our customers. A connection that obviously holds good potential for sales, but that also lets us learn from the people who are driving our business so that we can keep doing better.

The challenge now is to find out what will make all the difference: who are your customers, really, and what exactly are they looking for?

The truth is, of course, that there isn’t one single answer.

That’s where contextual marketing comes in.


What is contextual marketing?

Contextual marketing uses marketing tools to target relevant products and services to the right people, based on information you’ve been able to gather.

The powerhouse behind contextual marketing is data. By working with terms people have searched for, their recent browser behaviour, or any other data you may have been able to collect, your website and email content, advertising – everything – can be personalised and tailored to communicate, “Here, here is exactly what you’re looking for.”

Why is this exciting for financial services?

Contextual marketing is already in use in the financial services world, with Barclays, United Bank for Africa, and Bank of America all demonstrating how well it can be done.

Aside from the obvious benefit of cutting through customer disinterest, contextual marketing offers a compelling list of advantages. By directly offering what you know your customer is already interested in, you can leapfrog through the buyer’s journey, saving you both time and wasted energy.

Having data to back-up strategy helps marketers too, and encourages good analysis and ongoing strategic development. You know where to focus and what’s working because you can see it, prove it, and demonstrate it.

Being relevant, timely, and genuinely useful will only go to enhance your relationship and your customer’s experience with every interaction. This is how great brand images are made.

Contextual marketing examples

Many of us have been segmenting and personalising our email marketing for some time, but contextual marketing takes all that a step further.

Website personalisation tokens

By assigning personalisation tokens to clients in your database, tools like Hubspot allow you to trigger the display of personalised content when customers visit certain web pages. You can use these tokens to further personalise email campaigns, helping you to pull out more specific data to segment with.

We’re way beyond automating the inclusion of first names here, although even that has been shown to give a boost to your click-through rate. Now you can base personalisation around a whole range of different categories. This could include company information, such as a contact’s role, or the company size, total revenue and industry. Or you could personalise based on an office’s geographical location, using postcode, city, or country.

Bespoke CTAs

A call to action (CTA) is a direct instruction to your audience, designed to provoke an immediate response, often taking the form of an image or line of text. CTAs should already form an essential part of your communication and your website, but combining a CTA with contextual marketing will help make them much more effective.

If you’ve identified an individual who always and only looks at your website for information on ISAs, then a CTA that’s about current accounts or loans is a wasted opportunity. Contextual marketing lets you identify the interest area and focus in. This is the perfect chance to introduce a CTA relating to a call or brochure about an ISA you have available. Couple this with a landing page that will help you capture more information and you’ll end up with even more relevant data to help you build the relationship yet further.

Your opportunity

Contextual marketing works because of this relationship-building potential. It feeds time and energy into where it matters most: into getting to know your customer. The rest flows naturally from there.

Here’s the process laid out, step by step:

  1. By using contextual marketing well, you can prove to clients and visitors that you care about them as an individual. By understanding their challenges and needs, and then by providing products and services that you’ve tailored to them, you have a real chance to offer a gold-standard of customer service. Every individual gets their own personal, rewarding experience.
  1. This then builds trust. Even more importantly, it earns trust. Your visitors and existing clients learn to trust your recommendations. They trust the direction that you are guiding them towards, and, over and above trusting your brand, they start to trust you as a person. And people love doing business with people.
  1. Building relationships and trust both then align to encourage further engagement. You offer the right products, to the right person, at the right time, and include the most relevant CTA. You base this on what you already know of their browsing history, what they’ve clicked on your page, and how long they have stayed on a particular subject. Any and all further contact and engagement from that point only goes to help feed and grow your efforts and the information you can make use of. From sending personalised emails to tailoring website content for that individual based on company information every future interaction can be used to build further rapport and secure future engagement. It’s a self-feeding chain of cause and effect.
  1. All three of these benefits then all pull together as one. An individual’s perception of your company, your brand, your products and services, and the customer service that you have provided to them from the very first moment they landed on your website, all come together to enhance your reputation. You get to position yourself confidently as a market leader. You stand out from the crowd and amongst your competitors. You are now a trusted advisor to that individual, and they value who you are and what you can do for them.

With all that behind you, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you’ve not yet made time for contextual marketing in 2017, it’s definitely time to get started.