Content is king, and what about context?

Content marketing has become one of the key tactics in marketing. By providing informative, educational and promotional content, marketers are able to attract and engage with current and potential customers. The popular phrase "content is king" signifies the importance of content in influencing consumers and businesses toward the end-goal of a purchase being made.

One only has to look at the job descriptions of today's marketing roles to find requirements such as "outstanding copywriting skills," "can write in different styles for different audiences with ease," or "exceptional writer with an ability to write with humor and playfulness." Being able to create enticing content certainly is an integral part of marketing campaigns, and therefore one of the most desirable skills for marketers.

– Excellent Content is Insufficient

Producing blog posts, articles, white papers, or videos is critically important for successful content marketing. Yet that is - however well done - incomplete. If an excellent piece of content doesn't provide value for the intended target group, it has essentially failed its purpose. Creating customer value should always be at the center of a marketer's mindset.

Therefore, context is the framework for refining content, but what does that exactly mean? Context implies delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time.

In other words, content becomes contextual when it speaks to the target audience's immediate interests, activities, and goals they want to accomplish right now. It is a compelling concept, and very important for lead nurturing.

To better understand the power of context, think about Amazon and Google. These companies have mastered contextual content delivery, and successfully implemented this strategy in their services.

  • Amazon: Combines purchase data from millions of people and the users own search history to make highly targeted product recommendations.

  • Google Adwords: Presents context-sensitive and personalized advertising in the users search results based on narrowly defined terms and keywords.

Example: Email Marketing Drip Campaign

An email marketing drip campaign is a good example of putting content in context. Drip marketing is a term describing a series of auto-responder emails that are sent out to customers. These emails are based on either specific time intervals or recipient actions (=context) to move a customer along the buying life cycle of awareness => consideration => purchase.

For example, one executes an email campaign targeting a segmented customer list with a particular message. If opened, one moves to the next stage and sends the recipient a link to a related document, free resource, etc.; or if ignored, the recipient will receive a different message. By sending emails including content based on the recipient's previous actions, it is possible to create very effective marketing campaigns.

The following infographic, published in a blog post by Matt Wesson (Content Marketing Manager at Salesforce), offers a nice overview of a drip campaign's process and benefits.

 (Click image to enlarge)

(Click image to enlarge)

Content is key to connecting with a target audience and building strong relationships. However, great content by itself doesn't necessarily accomplish those fundamental marketing goals. In order to be highly effective, content has to be embedded in customer circumstances – only then can it provide significant value.

In a nutshell, again, the main guideline for content marketing is putting content in context: delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time.