There’s little else that spells “epic fail” than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“What happened to Matt? Is he OK?”
“I don’t know, man. He was supposed to be here an hour ago.”
“Did you give him the right address of the bar?”
“Yeah, I told him it was on 5th ave and 10th street.”
Unfortunately for our friend Matt, who didn’t write down the address, he hopped in a cab and asked the driver to head to 10th ave and 5th street, and this was before we all had cell phones. Matt ended up in the hood, and got robbed.
There is nothing worse than circumstances dictating that you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It sucks. It hurts. In the best case scenario, you have only missed out on a valuable opportunity.
Wait, so what was the moral of that ridiculous story?
Being that any rational living being wants to be in the right place at the right time, this brings us to discussing the topic of contextual marketing, and how it is valuable for everybody hocking a product via the web, including our dear friends - SaaS companies.
Contextual marketing is exactly what it sounds like: making your product visible to the people that are your ideal customers - the people searching for your software-as-a-service that do not yet know that you are the guys providing it. The product matches the context of their present situation. You have the right product for the right customer, and you want to get it into their hands at the right time, right?
OK, enough with the egregious use of “right” for the rest of this article.
Why is context marketing the next big thing right now?
Like any evolution in the marketing industry and the practices we use, contextual marketing was born out of solving a pain point. In this case, it is because we, the public, are being nearly knocked unconscious with ads every time we log into social media or enter a search query. And, it’s not just the quantity of ads we see online, but more importantly how many ads we do not want to see. It is tiresome.
Also, customers have more options online now than ever for researching product reviews, and choosing to purchase the same product from multiple competing vendors. This means that the sales cycle, that companies have always sought to shorten while wooing their customers, is naturally becoming longer and longer each day.
There’s more to look at, so there is more to doubt and reconsider.
This is why contextual marketing is being hailed as the future of online marketing for emails and advertising, and why we have incorporated it into our methodology with gusto. Prospects looking, for example, for project management software should do a Google search and see your PM software company’s blog, link to your Twitter and Facebook, and related links regarding your company, fueled by content generation.
Well, that is if your product is any good, but improving the quality of your product is a topic for a different post. We’ll stay positive and go ahead with assuming that your SaaS is indeed one of the best on the market! Isn’t it?
As with any form of marketing, there is a right way and a wrong way to go down the path of context. People are already inundated with ads, emails ad nauseum, so there is a degree of skill required to guarantee that you are using context tastefully. The best way to implement contextual marketing not only gets you into the right hands at the right time, but also engages the customer in an exchange.
While context marketing is all around us, we will use Amazon as a simple but prime (sorry, couldn’t resist using the pun!) showcase of how it should work. Take a look when we search for, say, unlocked cell phones:
The first two phones that pop up are a sponsored product, and then a “best seller” according to Amazon. Hmm, if it’s a best seller, it must be pretty good. Let’s click the second one and see what happens.
Once you scroll to the bottom of the phone’s page, Amazon lists what other customers also bought, but that specifically function for this phone we clicked on. If Amazon was to show us, say, other technology gadgets like cameras or flash drives that customers als bought, well, what would the context be for doing such?
What they are doing is helping this phone’s customer, instead of just selling to them. It is particularly important with this marketing method to avoid pestering potential buyers, to instead provide them with valuable services and content, and entice them with offers that they can put to practical use.
Further, Amazon follows up with emails to customers on special offers or sales that apply to the customer’s specific purchasing history - again, helpful. People are already overly spammed with email, and sick of it. After making a few purchases for golfing gear, Amazon will send you emails on golf-related offers, but not email you when there’s a sale on a flat-screen. Makes sense, right?
The same principle should be applied to SaaS marketing. Let’s get a bit deeper into it.
An example of ideal contextual marketing
Say that you are on a business trip in a new city. When you step off the plane and turn on your phone, you get an alert that a ridesharing app you used once before welcomes you, and is offering you a discount on your first ride in the city.
The plane landed a couple hours before check-in at your hotel. It’s early in the day, so your restaurant review app notices that you are in a new town around tea-time, so you get a flurry of suggestions for local cafes that suit your taste, and some are even giving 10% off for new patrons.
After leaving the coffee shop, the hotel sends you an email letting you know that the room is ready ahead of schedule, and you can check in early. Delightful!
The above example is contextual marketing done to perfection. By taking into account time, location, and preferences, the companies were able to communicate services and products that aren’t just valuable to the imaginary businessperson, but that were things that they actually want, and at the right time.
Now, brace yourself for one of the most cliche expressions, ever...
In contextual marketing, the above cliche rings especially true. In our example, if the character was notified instead of local nightlife hotspots, or of a concert happening later that week, neither would be as valuable for, or likely to be engaged with, as a cafe during mid-morning for our traveler. Maybe they do in fact enjoy nightlife and concerts, but the cafe was a more appropriate suggestion.
Now, let us move on to why this matters so much for your SaaS enterprise.
Is contextual marketing the savior for SaaS content marketing?
Quite literally, every SaaS company is now using content marketing for inbound purposes, much more than traditional advertising. 94% of B2C content marketers use Facebook for publishing content, but only 66% of them find it effective. So, why is that? Why keep beating a dead horse?
Well, it is likely that since content marketing has proven to be an effective inbound technique for the SaaS industry, everyone and their mother has hopped on the bandwagon and is putting content out there. However, there is quite a divide between generating content and generating quality, targeted content.
Enter contextual marketing for SaaS, where your content is aimed at not just a single specific demographic that could use your product, but rather is also aimed at where prospects are at in their buyer journey, their preferences, age, etc.
It is far better in a crowded marketplace to micro-target audiences, than to have a singular, general campaign push, and user-segmented campaigns prove overwhelmingly successful.
Make no mistake about it - successful contextual marketing campaign require a lot of work to be effective. Here are just a few of your prospective buyer details you need to research and monitor to identify how to segment your audience:
- Purchasing history
- Geographic location
- Search query history
- Cultural/artistic preferences
- Browsing behavior
We could list important demographic traits, literally, for hours. So, you get the idea - context is extremely time and labor intensive to get it done right.
Your SaaS product is likely not a solution for every demographic, so of course your target audience will be limited. However, there absolutely will be customers of varying backgrounds and at different stages of their buyer journey that your product will be helpful for. Context marketing is what will help guide each of these individuals through your sales funnel, all the way to close, and through to renewals. Why? Because putting your product in the right context for them makes them feel familiar with you.
Take a minute and ask yourself, how many homes have you visited that had no mirrors? Not a single one, because everyone needs to see what they look like. If you dig a bit further into this notion, you will learn that people are acutely aware of their own personal image. It’s the most familiar thing in life.
In context marketing, you are ideally holding up a mirror to your target audience - your content should seem familiar to them, even if you are sending an email to a lead for the very first time.
SaaS products can range from the exciting and fun (AirBNB, Uber) to the utilitarian and straightforward (any cloud storage service), and thus methods to connect with and engage a company’s target audience will vary. Working with a professional SaaS marketing agency like Incredo will help you with identifying your target audience, segmenting buyer personas, managing content and more, but most importantly, in the proper context for each persona.
We are here to help!
Hopefully the concept of context marketing was pretty easy for you to grasp. But, you should now understand that while it is a powerful way to connect with your ideal audience, doing it the right way takes enormous sums of research, studying and analyzing data to understand who they really are, and the proper way to speak with them.
That is why agencies like hours exist - so your team can work on developing the next Salesforce or Tinder, and we can make sure you get it into the right hands at the right time. Keep in mind that people change, and a first-time customer of yours may not be the same person a year down the line. Buyer personas need to be regularly monitored and campaigns adjusted to where there are at every stage in life, in order to keep them renewing your SaaS.
If you have any insights you would like to share on contextual marketing, or questions about incorporating it into your SaaS marketing strategy, go ahead share them in our comments. We can talk context for days!