Relevant content continues to be the crucial “bait” that attracts prospects to vendors’ products and services. Consider that Ecolo Media says that nearly 64% of B2B technology buyers read between 2 to 5 pieces of content before making a purchase. And, Demand Generation Report says 67% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.
To keep pace, today’s B2B marketers state they are churning out more content than ever before. But while creating and delivering relevant content is a necessary deliverable for any email marketer, new research is showing that content is not enough – it’s context that is the new Holy Grail for marketers. Forrester recently wrote that, “in a world where people check their emails, text messages, app alerts and social media posts all at once, marketers can no longer rely on traditional email tactics. Today’s email marketing programs must meet the needs of consumers with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.”
The goal for email marketers is to create a cycle of repeatable interactions that invite customers into deeper engagement at all touch points. This sets up a cycle of connections, which can then be used by marketers to refine future interactions and nurture the sale.
Here are 4 ways contextually relevant communications are having an impact on email marketing:
- The age of multi-channel/multi-device: Not long ago, consumers and employees would receive digital messages primarily via email on their desktop computers. Today, in addition to accessing emails via their smartphones and tablets, they are receiving additional communications via SMS texts, social network posts and app alerts. And they expect contextually relevant communications from marketers to fit their needs, regardless of where they are or how they access the message. The various channels and devices used to receive communications these days must be kept front and center when creating contextually relevant communications.
- The content playing field has leveled: Even well-designed integrated messaging campaigns no longer deliver the eyeballs, clicks and the competitive advantage they did a few years back, as your competitors are likely just as skilled as you are in this realm. In addition, many less skilled (or perhaps overwhelmed) marketers have diluted the content impact in the minds of prospects by simply substituting “quality” for “quantity,” lumping in your well-targeted and crafted efforts with their off-target, shotgun approaches. After all, we all still receive emails that are poorly targeted and way off the mark.
- Context augments subsequent communications: As described above, context can be used to improve and inform subsequent email communications. A marketer’s goal should be to use email to drive ongoing customer interactions, which might occur across myriad channels. Not only can email be the central communication vehicle in these interaction cycles, it can also establish context — such as location — which then can inform subsequent communications sent through other means.
- Context is delivering for those who have mastered it: Contextual marketing is increasing campaign messaging relevance and improving results. Forrester says some B2B marketers are experiencing 10 times the revenue results compared to previous campaigns. When marketers create content that's targeted at prospects’ points of need, such campaigns perform better because they aren't delivering marketing content that's misaligned with prospect interests or their stage in the sales cycle. For example, if a B2B lead is getting new budget in January and she's downloaded a couple of buying guides in the past two weeks while also visiting your product pages, and it's December, a marketer should be able to send targeted content that addresses her needs. This might be an offer for a custom end-of-year product demo with a rep that specializes in the prospect’s industry -- content that’s likely to be converted.
So while personalized content has served as a requirement for marketers to this point, contextual marketing is taking that concept to a whole new level. Personalized and relevant marketing creates emails people actually welcome, and is typically not the kind of marketing that annoys people. By delivering truly relevant campaigns that connect directly to the content being viewed, email marketers can engage the right customers at exactly the right time – and get better results than ever before.
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