If Content Is King, Then Context Is Queen

As the importance of content appears to be a focus within the digital space, it is evident marketers are beginning to see the value it can provide. According to a recent HiveFire Survey cited in eMarketer, content creation is a focus for many marketers in an effort to: establish thought leadership, elevate brands variability and buzz, increase lead generation, and boost SEO. While it is beneficial to create content, it is also necessary to create something uniquely valuable and compelling for consumers.

These days, “content strategy” usually means the creation or gathering of it – with the right end goal in mind (thought leadership and SEO), but frequently overlooks the consumer. The absence of a consumer content-focused strategy can often result in an overload of irrelevant content, choice avoidance, and layers of confusion for consumers.

This begs the question: What is considered uniquely valuable and compelling for consumers? What is something you can offer consumers they have not read or seen before, and offers some sort of engagement value going beyond the mere means of pushing content out? Back-to-basics, customer-focused research can often provide insights into what problems consumers are facing within a particular category or brand and give valuable ideas, from something informative or entertaining, to a utility they could never imagine not having had before.

By recognizing online user behaviors and how and where they are interacting with content, utilities, applications, etc., we can create timely solutions, increasing consumer engagement, and yes, value.

It is this focus on content that is also translating to how powerful the right content can be delivered to consumers through advertising, therefore offering them something valuable. Dynamic banners offer specific content based on your previous online experience with a brand, sharing of content, searches, or in the simplest form, a historical glimpse at your online behavior.

The advanced targeting capabilities that exist today often lend themselves to very rich data about consumers inclusive of location, demographics, psychographics, online behaviors, and conversion propensity. Marketers now have the power to target and declare how valuable specific consumers are to them – paying more for someone who would perceive your content or message to be more valuable based on the vast amount of audience data available today.

And while the content is important, it is the context in which content is delivered that is equally important. Marketing at the point of need (including the right time, the right place, and the right message) is all a part of strategic content. With all of this data and insight, we often know what type of consumer we are reaching; however, we are losing the ability to define the context in which they receive the message. Are they receptive to the message? We know they have the predisposition to be responsive, but in what context are they receiving the message?

Marketers are working harder to bring value to consumers beyond the banner – from a branded custom radio channel, live sports scores, or the ability to interact with celebrities at events through Twitter. What is one man’s junk may be another man’s treasure. Value is in the eye of the beholder, as is the context in which it is delivered.

This column was originally published on April 13, 2011 on ClickZ.

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