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10 Marketing Automation Tips for Personalisation and Contextualisation

Many people never explore the full potential of marketing automation. These tips focus on two of its elements: personalisation and contextualisation.

Two words: personalisation and contextualisation. Every marketer is familiar with one...but both?

Paraphrasing a management edict might help. Personalisation talks to the right person; contextualisation talks to the person right. It goes beyond mail-merging your emails with surnames. Modern personalisation and contextualisation means framing your messages in the right way, across all channels, with supporting info and surroundings that maximize comfort for your customer.

And marketing automation is the key. It uses all five tenets of modern marketing: targeting the right audience, then building engagement as a managed conversation over time, maximizing conversion based on customer comfort, and learning from analytics by swinging in technology that matches your goals. 

Here are 10 tips to get you started. Because while you can do marketing automation without personalisation and contextualisation, you won’t be getting the most from it. Here we go...

1. Set the Scene before You Start

Every book or report has a preamble: a section that sets up the context of the content to come. Such set-up is important, because it warms up your reader and makes them more receptive to your message. Marketing automation lets you do it in every campaign.

How? In a performing marketing automation infrastructure, your new campaign isn’t a one-off blast; it’s the latest in a series. So you can lead with a memory jog: 'remember the report you downloaded last week?' and end on a cliffhanger 'Look out for your 50% discount next Wednesday' to warm up the reader—all the time boosting your engagement levels.

2. Gather Behavioural Insights

75% of human communication is nonverbal. The same applies to email marketing or the web. To learn more about what makes your customers tick, look beyond the click or response form.

Marketing automation can help you see your customer as a whole person—putting the profile in your database in context with his or her social media accounts, business networking contacts, blogs,Tweets, and posts across the web. This data lets you create content that appeals to his/her interests. Why not segment your next campaign for customers who prefer a certain hobby, or like a certain author? It’s all possible with marketing automation.

3. Treat Your Data as a Living Asset

Building a database isn’t a one-off job. It retains its value only if kept up-to-date. Hence tip #3: don’t offload data cleansing to a temp or the intern. It’s an important job that needs constant attention. 

Imagine the context you could add to comms with a totally clean database. Try including news of interest from today’s headlines or congratulate job-changers with a real-time message. Marketing automation can make keeping up with change easier. Don’t let your data decay.

4. Build Buyer Profiles

Million-name databases aren’t uncommon these days—and of course you can’t write a million letters when personalising. Instead, create buyer profiles—ideal customers you can use to select an audience of like-minded people for your next campaign.

Personalising for this audience becomes easier—they’ll share many interests and professional similarities, so you can write content that matches them precisely. When doing marketing automation, think of one ideal customer and you’ll appeal to a thousand.

5. Look for the Triggers

Your customers' needs don’t always sync with your campaign plan. So use marketing automation for trigger marketing: automatic messaging that takes advantage of every engagement opportunity.

Perhaps it’s the anniversary of your top client’s job. Or a hot prospect just got a promotion. Send them congratulations! If your database is up-to-date, these are both great triggers to send a truly personalised communication. Keep your customer close.

6. Engage across Multiple Touches

Customers don’t experience you through a single medium. They build their impressions the way birds build nests—from twigs and scraps picked up across the whole media landscape. Marketing automation is cross-channel from the get-go by letting you deliver consistent, tailored messages across all media, without breaking the flow of conversation.

What does marketing automation add? Centralisation. When you bring all your outreach and inbound efforts onto a single platform, you can see how they work together and close any gaps where customers might fall away from you. For complete personalisation and contextualisation: bring all the touches together.

7. Influence as Well as Invite

Is marketing automation about selling? Of course it is. But not every sale involves an overt sales pitch. If you’re the source of useful information or if you’re always there with answers when they search the web or engage on Twitter, then you’re boosting your chances of a sale down the road.

So make sure content is genuinely useful, without making a hard sell. Since marketing automation lets you track audiences from that very first tentative engagement, you can include soft-sell and high-touch communications in your success metrics, too.

8. Qualify on the Quiet

There’s a right and wrong way to qualify leads. Many marketers do it the wrong way: add them to the campaign list and wait for them to get so miffed they hit "Unsubscribe."

Marketing automation—with its tools for behind-the-scenes data-gathering and business intelligence—helps qualify an audience without forcing yourself into their presence. The forums they take part in, the groups they join—there are many ways to make sure your prospect is right for you. And conversely, to avoid pushing yourself on people who aren’t in your audience.

9. Treat Demand Gen on a Level with Lead Gen

Lead generation is a major metric for marketers—and rightly so. But demand generation—such as leaving quality content in your audience’s path to be engaged with on their terms—often takes lower priority. Let marketing automation help.

How? With the right processes in place, softer touches can be as effective as hard sell. People who read your research report, who download your white paper—you might not know everything about these people yet, but the relationship has started on a positive note, because they initiated the conversation. And that’s a great personalisation platform to build on.

10. Close the Loop on Your Reporting!

Our tenth tip is a biggie; marketing automation lets you close the loop—see your customer journey in toto, from first hesitant touch to gushing Twitter advocacy. All the stages of the sales funnel connected and all the metrics at each step giving insights into the character of each prospect. Which, of course, helps you personalise deeper with each communication.


  • Many marketers aren’t making enough use of personalisation and contextualisation.
  • Personalisation is talking to the right person; contextualisation is talking to the person right.
  • Marketing automation is how you close the loop of the whole customer journey.

10 tips, 10 actions to make your marketing automation work harder. But there’s a lot more than 10 in the report. Why not download Marketing Automation Simplified today?

Marketing Automation Simplified

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