A few weeks ago, I posted a very funny SlideShare about bad ad placements. It was a series of ads either juxtaposed to conflicting content, or happenstance placements of ads next to objects that did not create the best visual. The following week, I found myself listening to Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot at a conference I was attending in New York City about content versus context, and I was reminded about the SlideShare and its relevance to the subject.
Let me explain. These unfortunately placed advertisements were a great metaphor for context. Content Marketing is about the creation of educational, informative stories, videos, etc., but context is about how the content is received and deemed relevant by the intended audience. Context necessitates the intelligent use of the market and big data to deliver information which is timely and useful to a potential customer.
In the purest of examples, Amazon does a phenomenal job at delivering context to visitors of their website. When you first visit the site, or purchased an item, your browser receives a cookie to be stored on your hard drive until you return again. On your subsequent visit, you will notice the types of things you previously viewed/purchased will be conveniently on the homepage. You bought a low calorie cookbook? Now the page has the newest and most popular diet cookbooks.
Now, let’s imagine you purchased a low calorie cookbook from ABC Bookstore. You return to their site to purchase more cook books for your diet, but ABC is trying to move the book “100 Ways to Cook Bacon.” All you see is this book, and maybe several other books filled with high caloric recipes. Now that is bad ad placement! You are not only met first thing with a product you are not interested in, but you fall off the wagon by running to the kitchen to fry up a pound of bacon.
The ability to deliver information in the right context doesn’t mean you have to go to the level of Amazon. The key is to collect data using various tools (especially a marketing software platform that can sync data from web analytics, social media, your sales CRM, etc.) and leverage what you know about a prospect to deliver relevant information to them at a very personalized level.
Your prospects come to your website, follow your Twitter feed, read your case studies to learn more about a certain product they need to solve a problem. Wouldn’t it behoove you to serve up that product to them as often as possible without muddying the waters with other products this particular prospect has no interest in buying? Then you ask how can I do all of this? Well, it would be almost impossible manually, so you need to invest in a marketing software platform which can gather all of this data and aggregate it from your marketing channels. There are some great companies out there with varying costs associated with it, like HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot. You make sure you place call-to-actions on your webpages, emails, which in turn gathers information about your prospects and imbeds a cookie on their browser (remember Amazon). Now, you can easily track their interactions on all of your marketing channels. Utilize that information to segment them into the “Super Cool Widget” prospects and begin delivering more information about super cool widgets. You deliver messages relevant to what the prospect needs, and not what the company has decided they will promote this week – like “100 Ways to Cook Bacon.”