Industry Insights

The One Marketing Trend Your Business Shouldn’t Overlook

March 21, 2006, 4:50 p.m: Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet ever, appropriately letting the world know that he ‘just set up his twttr.’ 

Way before social media became a marketing staple, it’s said that the first form of advertising dates back to 1839 in London, when promotional posters were hung (and subsequently banned) from private property.

We’ve come a long way since then. It’s an exciting time to market your business, with tons of opportunity to implement the latest technology and smart trends, no matter your budget. 

The Future of Marketing is Here 

Marketing changes based on the environment. If something changes in the environment, that then changes how things interact within the environment. 

Mathew Sweezey, author and the Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce, recently discussed this concept in detail. Named a ‘Top 50 Content Marketer’ by TopRank Marketing and a ‘Top 10 Thought Leader In B2B Marketing’ by Onalytica, Sweeze, he brings a unique tech and analytics perspective to the marketing world.   

Sweezey explains that what marketing must become is very different than what it ever has been. He poses the question, “How do we re-think what the word marketing means in a world where the business is no longer the owners of the entire media environment?” That’s where contextual marketing comes in to play. 

What is Contextual Marketing?  

In short, it’s the most dynamic trend in marketing that a business should explore if they are looking to stay ahead of the game. 

No one racks their brains anymore to come up with answers; they ask Google and it brings contextual answers specifically tailored to each individual. explains contextual marketing as online and mobile marketing that provides targeted ads based on user information.

There are two million blog posts written every day, so breaking through that noise with your message is absolutely critical (and almost impossible). That is, unless you explore contextual marketing. Sweezey breaks down this concept into 4 distinct, actionable areas:

  • Availability
  • Getting Personal
  • Authenticity
  • Be Purposeful
  • Bonus: All four of these combined

We’ll break each level down further so that you can use them to drive your marketing message home. 

Upgrade Your Business with the 4 Levels of Contextual Marketing


Something can’t be contextual if it’s not there. Availability in the modern world simply means being there and having a base level of technology to make these experiences a reality. In the infinite media world, we rely on algorithms and filters that are looking for context to create an experience. So, it’s up to you to be there for your customers. 

Sweezey gave an easily relatable example: think about your website. If a visitor comes to your page and it’s stagnant, you’re not giving them a contextual experience. He cites data that indicates the average number of pages a website user visits is 1.7. This proves that people expect for you to understand them contextually and provide the certain information they desire. 

How do you get there? Investing in a CRM - a website that has the ability to dynamically change based on individual behaviors. This marketing automation tool can take different data and create if-then statements. So, if a person has done X, then we can set up this particular offer. 

Being available might mean some technology investments up front, but the price of not being there for your potential customers can really cost you.

Getting Personal

Personalized marketing is not a new concept. But it’s more than just simply using a dynamic name field in the subject line of an email – it has to truly be a personal experience for the customer. 

A great example of personal contextual marketing that Sweezey explains is Dunkin Donuts’ loyalty rewards program. It currently boasts over five million members and they have permission from the users who log in to the app to provide them with personal experiences. What the app does differently is that it doesn’t just push out randomized notifications, it provides personal experiences that consumers actually want (ex. You can order 24-hours ahead).

How can you get personal, even with a limited budget? Just look at things in a different way. Getting personal can simply mean dropping a thank you note to a small list of loyal customers, or just engage with them on social media. You have the time, it’s all about where/how you spend it.   


In today’s digital world, the key to breaking through the noise is to be authentic. What’s that mean exactly? Do what is expected. Determine what’s contextual for your relationship with your customers. In Sweezey’s example, he references a dry-cleaning business. The owner of this kind of business deeply understands his clientele, so he can have an authentic relationship with his customers and connect on a personal level. 

If a customer posts about an activity on social media, use that activity as a conversation starter and a reason to connect contextually. In this case, the relationship has nothing to do with cleaning clothes, or pushing discounts, but has everything to do with being authentic and creating a deeper connection. The bottom line? Don’t push sales upon your customers – create an experience, not a message. 

Be Purposeful

If you’re not deploring marketing tactics with purpose, you’re essentially wasting time and money. Sweezey breaks down the idea of purpose into two realms:

  1. Why is the person there?
  2. What do they get out of it? 

In the social media space, you have to ask yourself, why is the customer on whichever social platform they are on in the first place? Most commonly, a person goes on social media for a digital escape. 

For example, the software company Kronos shares two different types of content on its Facebook page – blog posts, and a series of comics. Guess which type of content gets 10 times more engagement. The comics. Why? Because it fulfills the purpose of the person being on social media. 

Before posting anything to your social channels, really determine why your followers are there in the first place and that will develop your contextual relationship. 

Use These Four Tactics Together to Create the Ultimate Contextual Marketing Goldmine

Do you know the difference between high-performing marketing campaigns and everything else? 

The key is buy-in from the top down. Whether you’re a business owner yourself or running the marketing department of a large corporation, when you exercise availability, a personal touch, authenticity, and purposefulness - your message will outlast any algorithm the digital powers throw your way. 

Want to learn more about contextual marketing and how to bring your business to the next level? Be sure to check out Mathew Sweezey’s content! Follow him on Twitter @msweezey, or pick up his book, Marketing Automation for Dummies. 

David Reimherr

David Reimherr

David brings 20 years of sales, marketing, strategy & branding experience to the table. He is the founder of Magnificent Marketing which specializes in content marketing, video marketing & social media advertising (e-commerce, lead-gen, strategic content distribution) and is a lover of marketing, dogs and life!


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