ConTEXT is King

April 03, 2013

 Now that we’re a few months into 2013, feels about time for an overly prophetic blog post doesn’t it? How about this for a dramatic entrance: Content Marketing is Dead!

Just kidding. In fact, content marketing is flourishing to the point of oversaturation! Consider this: online marketing content is quickly becoming democratized in a way similar to early SEO & social media tactics due to a tidal wave of blog posts, guest articles, infographics, white papers and videos. The best example I stumbled onto during a recent client meeting is the number of videos that Youtube serves up for “How to plunge a toilet”: 6,080. Are there really 6,080 ways to plunge a toilet?

How to Plunge a Toilet Context Marketing Example

Simply put: the web is quickly getting polluted with low value content and bad advertising practices. How do we make sure our content is eco-friendly? Enter context marketing:

The context or placement of online content and advertising is where users and Google are interacting with your brand; don’t underestimate the importance of what this interaction “feels”like for the user.

So what am I actually talking about here? What is context marketing?

An outlet or venue.
This can be a website or media network that is hosting your advertising or a blog that you’ve secured a guest blog post within.

Time of day.
When are you advertising or publishing articles or posts on Facebook? Is it during a time that even makes sense for your user to read?

Automated Delivery.
This includes receiving an email to remind you about your abandoned cart or even those crazy suggested shopping feeds on Amazon. How do they know that I need a tomato slicer to go with my new banana slicer?

Consider the mobile and multiscreen phenomenon as another example of how important context marketing is: right now you’re sitting on your couch watching TV, reading this article on your iPad and tweeting it to your friends. The context of this blog post includes multiple devices and should be formatted to provide a positive brand experience for each.

Due to multiscreen taking over the western world, the context of advertising is changing quickly. Facebook has introduced “native” ads called Sponsored Stories that can be seen on all devices. Google is adapting Adwords so that ads can no longer be segmented by device and will show up on phones, tablets and desktop automatically. Pretty soon we’ll see responsive ad designs for responsive websites to keep the ad experience consistent.

SEO has also experienced a shift towards context: the quality or value of a link is determined by the page rank (or authority) of the page being linked from. Blog comments don’t have any value and links from blogs without audiences won’t make much of a dent in your keyword rankings these days. Google has even pushed us towards building our personal Author Rank to incentivize real people to publish and promote content (not brands or agencies - people!). In 2013, the context of where a blog post is promoted socially is just as important as the article. The more social activity you can drum up for a blog post or video, the more likely it is to get ranked by Google.

What does it all mean, man?!

Understand multiple touch points.
Map out multiple touch points for your users and determine what each interaction should "feel" like. Use those sophisticated tools and all that data you've collected to up your game!

Focus on solving user problems.
Where are your users looking for answers to their questions? Yahoo Answers, Twitter, forums... these venues are all fair game for offering solutions, but make sure that you're solving their problem and not just dropping a link.

Combine content & context.
It's time to build hyper-informed conversion funnels that feel consistent throughout multiple phases: acquisition, nurture & customer service. This includes planning content to both help your leads make an informed buying decision AND to help current customers use your product or service (documentation, customer support resources).

Create positive brand impact.
We're already seeing technology and advertising permeate our every day life, it's only going to get more intense when all major brands start flooding the web with content and money. Stay ahead of the curve by working out the kinks and creating positive brand interactions across all touch points.

Oh, and learn how to plunge a toilet properly while you're at it.

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