Before we dig into how to increase sales with in-context messaging, I want to quickly define in-context messaging.

First I want to point out that in-context messaging is not SPAM.  In the past, websites would try to engage visitors by blasting pop-ups, expandable adds, and other gimmicks.  These methods simply clutter your site and have questionable returns as most people have trained themselves to ignore this kind of advertising.

Instead, in-context messaging is looking at real visit behavior and displaying content relevant to what pages they’ve seen and actions they’ve taken.  This content can be displayed within a page itself or as a callout.  If done properly, in-context messages can enhance the web experience, not detract from it.

For a good example browse to ourhomepage. Inside the image of the laptop you should see a message.  This message will change depending on how many times you’ve visited our site and what pages you’ve looked at.  For example if this is your second or third visit and you’ve looked at our pricing page we’ll display one message and if you haven’t looked at pricing we’ll display another.  As you can see this message is not SPAM and is in fact engaging.  Below are 4 other ways you can use in-context messaging:

Present Alternate Offers

Odds are you don’t have a 100% conversion rate on your landing pages.  Meaning traffic visits them, but for whatever reason they opt not to fill out a form and convert.  While they may not have converted, the good news is they at least thought about it.  The trick is getting the right offer in front of them and doing so quickly before they browse away from your site and you lose them forever.

This is where in-context messaging can be a huge help.  There are two methods for using it:

1.    Display a time-delayed message.  If someone was on your landing page for 60 seconds and have not converted, odds are they’re still thinking about it (or your landing page has way to much content ;-) ).  Now is a good time to help them make up their mind by displaying a message that either expands upon your offer or presents a different offer they may be interested.  BONUS – you can display an alternate offer based on previous browsing history so you know they’re interested in it.

2.    Display a message on their next page view.  If you’d rather not message someone while they are on your landing page, you can easily set up a message that will display on the very next page they view.  As with the time delayed message, you can use this to display an alternate offer based on previous browsing history.

As for what alternate offer to display, I recommend you make it an early stage offer, like an eBook, webinar, or something similar.  This way you have a higher chance of getting a conversion.

Cross Promote Products

In addition to using messages on your site, you can use them in any web based app or product too.  When combined withcustomer tracking softwareyou can then display messages related to the features and products your customers use.  This is a very effective way to promote other products and services you sell.

For example, if you sell multiple products, odds are you have companion products, meaning they work to compliment each other.   When a customer is logged into one product, as soon as they complete an action or task where a companion product could enhance or improve what they’re doing, that’s a perfect time to display a little message offering the customer a free trial of the companion product.

You can also use this method to promote other features and applications within your product.  For example, if your product has a blogging and social media platform in it, when someone finishes a blog article, if they don’t promote it, you can display a message later that session or during their next login telling them to promote it using social media.  Using this method you can increase retention and possibly upgrades, depending on how you price your product.

Engage Free Trial Users

In addition to using messages in your product or apps to cross promote, you can also use them to engage free trial users!  This is a very effective way to engage free trial users and nurture them until they’re ready to close.  There are 2 common use cases:

1.    Walk people through set-up.  When a new user first logs in, you can prompt them with set-up steps and then walk them through the entire process by calling out the next step every time they complete a task.  This can remove a lot of friction from the setup process as you’re no longer asking someone to read documentation first.  Instead, they just need to log in and get going!

2.    Promote Key Features.  If you offer a free trial, you’ve probably already determined what features in your product someone needs to use to increase the chances of getting a sale.  You probably also tailor the documentation, your pitch, and possibly even use email nurturing to promote those key features.  With in-context messaging this gets a lot easier because you can now promote features when relevant.  You can even work it into the set-up process, where the first task they perform after setting up is to use one of your key features

Combine with Email Marketing Automation

Email is a very effective way to engage your leads or customers.  It’s so effective that there are numerous marketing automation and email marketing platforms available today.  That being said, email marketing is only effective at getting leads or customers back on your site.  Once on your site, email marketing has no effect, but in-context messaging does!

To combine email marketing with in-context messages, you basically want to pick one of the strategies above  (alternate offers, cross promotions, engage free trial users) or any other in-context messaging strategy, and then use email marketing to drive people to it.  Some examples:

1.     If you use messaging in your product to walk someone through set-up and you notice they get stuck at a step, email marketing can re-engage and get them back in your product, where the messaging can take over again.

2.     You can use email to promote some hot blog articles and then use messaging when someone arrives to create a dynamic offer based on their previous browsing history.

Basically you can continue the engagement process as soon as someone sets foot on your site after clicking a link in an email.