Automation and personalised marketing need strong contextual foundations

9 minutes read
Adam - 08.06.2022
Why automation and personalisation need strong contextual foundations

Just because it says your name doesn’t mean it speaks to you.

It's important to have a strong understanding of your company, your offering, and your positioning before trying to personalise or automate your marketing. Personalisation and automation can only help if they're based on a foundation of contextual knowledge. 

Why automation and personalisation still need strong contextual foundations

To better explain what I mean, let's walk through an example together. No bear with me, this may seem a strange way to start a blog...

Imagine you planned out an anniversary meal with your partner. You researched everything and planned it over numerous calls. Now it's the night. It's go time.

You’re walking into a high-class restaurant with a beautiful aesthetic just right for this type of occasion.

You booked the restaurant months ago and were updated regularly about menu changes or issues.

The hostess greets you with a smile, says your name and quickly builds a rapport with you both.

She brings you to the table where the wine you pre-ordered is waiting.

The food is cooked perfectly, the dessert is mouthwatering and the server is never more than a few minutes away. You leave the restaurant feeling that the whole experience was amazing and you are gushing about the staff, the service, the food and everything in between.

This is what a highly personal, polished experience provided by a business looks like. There was time and effort taken to create an experience that met the needs of the client in the way they wanted. The business took the time to understand the client. They tailored the offering around the client's wants and needs to provide great service in the right context.

To me, this should be the aim of every company, product and service.

But do we achieve this? Let's be honest…. Rarely.

Free ideal customer profile and persona template

Personalisation over contextualisation

It’s very difficult to provide a tailored, contextually relevant service consistently. Not to mention at scale. Companies may fall short and that's okay if they iterate and improve.

But what we have seen over the past few years is almost an obsession with “personalisation” but ignoring “contextualisation” of the “offering”.

That may seem like a quagmire or confusing statement so let me try and explain.

Here at Six & Flow, we help people build single “source of truth” systems that customer data to be consolidated. HubSpot is an intuitive tool that offers detailed reporting on the customer journey from end to end. The data points collected allow for segmentation of this customer data in order to build better audiences for targeting and automated messages. But, the first step is always about understanding your business's unique value proposition and outlining how you deliver that value.

This enables sales and marketing teams to fully tailor the offering according to the needs of the client.

You can learn more about our process for understanding your value proposition here:


The true value of a CRM

A fully set up and integrated CRM system is an incredibly powerful tool.

And yet, many companies' goal isn't to gain a deeper understanding of the customer to offer a contextually tailored experience.

Instead, their goal is to put someone's name on top of a monthly newsletter email.

It’s like driving a Ferrari to pick up your washing, Signaling Batman to open a jam jar or buying a mansion for your hamster.

The use falls far below its potential.

When personalisation is overvalued and organisations forget about context, then you aren't going to offer value. If you don't provide clear value in a contextual way then an email with my name in it isn’t going to make me reconsider the purchase.

Not to mention, this overweighted influence creates a gulf between creative marketing and technical marketing - when in reality the two should underpin and support each other.

Creative quality comes first

Every business needs an idea at the core. That idea needs to be positioned correctly. You can have an innovative idea, but if you can't position it correctly, you won't be able to sell it effectively.

By looking at your core offering and focussing it around what your core customer wants, you will be able to achieve a contextual match with them.

To do this you need to understand where you sit in the market and who your buyer personas are. This is where having an optimised CRM comes in.

LMS Personas


A CRM can do more than place somebody's name at the top of an email. With respect to personalisation and contextualisation, the software can show:

  • Where your current customers are spending their time,
  • What content they are interacting with,
  • What your customer's drivers and motivations are.

This is incredibly valuable but it's mainly qualitative data that tells you about the interactions of your prospects post engagement.

What a lot of data can’t do is make your content good, your tone of voice pitch-perfect or your brand highly engaging.

If every brand or piece of content was driven by data-driven insights alone we would end up with boring content about innovation, speed, and work harder not smarter.

In reality that is a lot of the content we see produced and it's boring AF. We get so caught up in comparing the mechanics of the process that we become myopic.

Studying data read time based on content length, CTR improvement based on button colour tests, and social engagement based on posting time are all good things to do… but only if you first ask “is this content actually any good?“

Technically optimised content perfected for SEO, length, and technical personalisation would read like utter gibberish to a human.

A great lead generation campaign means nothing if the product is poor and a great brand campaign is wasted if it is aimed at the wrong market.

We need to get away from measuring and personalising using tech and first figure out what we offer, what the client wants and what we are as an entity. Only then should we begin bringing the data in to back that up.

Free ideal customer profile and persona template

Using data to improve your offering

Start with your core foundations. Create strong content. Reference your buyer personas.

Then, you can use your CRM to remove friction from processes.

We speak a lot about lead scoring and playbooks at Six & Flow, but they are very misunderstood and incorrectly used in organisations.

ICP Workflow and lead scoring

What is lead scoring?

A lead score is a way of looking at several different data points in the system and using them to create an indicator for your team.

But people tend to create one score and then think ” oh well they score high! I better do something!” But they don’t actually qualify what the score means. Is it a qualification score? A quality score? An engagement score? If you don’t know this then it's just another number.

We advise that you use HubSpot to create multiple scores that are linked to your core offering and help to show the various facets of your prospect's interactions with you.

Once you have these you can use the score to segment and understand your audience. AND, leverage one of the HubSpot superpowers - automation.

In HubSpot you can automate actions such as email sends, task creation, and much much more. But you need appropriate triggers to make this happen. By having multiple scores that indicate behaviours of your prospects you can then begin to automate the entire process in a way that is effective.

Benefits of HubSpot


Now, focus on communications

Unless you have done the work to understand your company, your offering, and your positioning... no amount of personalisation or automation will help.

If you understand your company and can plug in a CRM then you can really drive performance.

So let's stop just focussing on the personalisation of the process and think about how you can really drive a personal, contextual, quality experience built on a deep understanding of your company and your prospects.

Once you have done all this feel free to send me a newsletter with my first name on it, but you probably won’t need to as I will be willingly using your service.

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