Contextual Marketing: How to Use Context in Marketing

Marketing Planning

Although many people use contextual marketing without even realizing it, there are few who take advantage of the practice to its full potential. Whether you’re an individual looking to reach a wider audience or a business owner looking to reach more customers, the principles of contextual marketing can help enhance your strategy and increase the amount of traffic you receive through your website.

This article will go over how to use context in your marketing so that you can improve your message and gain more customers over time.

What is Contextual Marketing?

When done right, contextual marketing makes your brand stick out from your competitors in a very positive way. But what is contextual marketing? In a nutshell, it’s all about using context—things like consumer location, time of day, and device—to tailor and enhance your marketing strategy. For example, let’s say you run a pizza parlor and you serve beer on tap.

When you know that someone is at home at 2 pm on a Tuesday, that information can help inform what kind of deals you offer them. Maybe there’s a special for off-brand beers during those hours! Or maybe there are some other products (like premium pizzas) available to incentivize a purchase or increase frequency.

Why is it so Effective?

When you consider that online advertising alone is a multi-billion dollar industry, then it’s obvious why marketers everywhere are working hard to figure out how they can increase their effectiveness and efficiency. And, one of their best strategies for doing so is contextual marketing.

To be sure, there has been a rise in contextual marketing over recent years due largely in part because of how successful it is. Because of its widespread use, it can sometimes be difficult for individuals who aren’t steeped in marketing lingo to get a handle on what exactly contextual marketing means.

So, let’s start with an explanation and then dive into some examples so you can see exactly what we mean. In short, contextual marketing refers to any type of content or ad that is relevant to whatever website or platform it appears on.

If you visit a gaming site and suddenly notice ads for your favorite brand of energy drink appearing at regular intervals throughout your browsing experience, then you were likely exposed to contextual marketing.

It might seem like a pretty simple concept when put like that but there’s actually more going on than meets the eye here. The reason contextual marketing works so well is that most people don’t want to feel as though they are being advertised to when visiting certain sites.

The Top 4 Ways to Take Advantage of Contextual Marketing

Have you ever stopped to think about how many contextual cues you’re exposed to every day? From street signs, product packaging, and brochures in your mailbox, it’s easy to see that context surrounds us in nearly every aspect of our lives.

Why does that matter for marketing? It means brands can leverage those contexts (things like weather or holiday seasons) with their advertisements and become more relatable—which is a huge advantage in today’s environment where consumers are so bombarded with advertisements.

To learn more about using context effectively, here are some contextual marketing examples and tips on how your brand can benefit from them.

i. Showcase an Environment

If you’ve been following digital marketing trends lately, then you probably know by now that environmental ads have become very popular in advertising campaigns.

By creating ads featuring picturesque scenes from nature or interesting locations around town, companies show off their products as something people want to be associated with – and even if they don’t buy your product directly after seeing one of these ads, they might remember it later when making buying decisions related to other things in their life.

This works particularly well for outdoor recreation companies who advertise hiking trails and activities as well as activewear brands that highlight places where people exercise such as gyms or yoga studios.

ii. Highlight Seasonal Changes

Another contextual marketing example involves highlighting seasonal changes in your ad copy. For example, if it’s summertime and everyone wants to spend time at the beach, you could take advantage of that by promoting swimsuits or sunglasses as part of your campaign.

Similarly, during Christmas season many retailers create ads showing snow-covered trees and presents under bright lights – which makes sense because people tend to associate Christmas with snow!

iii. Target Holiday Shoppers

Perhaps no category benefits more from contextual marketing than retail stores do during holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These days are known for being big shopping days because there are specific reasons why shoppers go out on these days instead of waiting until normal business hours to make purchases.

In order to get a leg up on their competition, businesses will often create ads showcasing promotions they’re offering only during these peak times.

iv. Tie In With Current Events

Lastly, another way to use contextual marketing is by tying in with current events that are relevant to your brand or industry. For instance, if you sell home security systems and there was just a large burglary ring busted nearby, consider putting together an ad highlighting how much money homeowners can save each year by investing in additional security measures.

This type of advertisement would be most effective right after news breaks about a crime wave hitting nearby neighborhoods since people will already be thinking about ways to protect themselves from becoming victims themselves.


If you take only one thing away from contextual marketing, it should be context. Everything that happens on a website is influenced by its context, which makes things very difficult for marketers who must use multiple channels and still deliver a consistent message.

If you can figure out what’s influencing your customers’ decisions, though, you have an opportunity to provide solutions that are right in their faces when they’re looking for them. It’s no wonder then that 70% of people believe they already have enough information to solve their problem but aren’t getting what they need from marketers (Forrester).

The real question is how can you deliver content in a way that matches up with your audience’s real needs at critical points in their decision-making processes? Understanding contextual marketing will help you do just that.

If you enjoyed these posts, please share them with your friends! And if there are any topics I didn’t cover here that you’d like me to write about, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

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