We all hear content is king (and it definitely has not diminished in importance!), but what about this context discussion?
Do you remember the English classes you took as a child? I remember teachers always placing an emphasis on context clues. If you don’t know what a word means, they instructed you, look at the words and sentences around it to get an understanding of the idea as a whole. That idea didn’t stop in elementary or middle school. Oftentimes when I didn’t understand something fully, I was told to think about “the bigger picture.” To understand the part, I was tasked with understanding the whole.
All of us are tasked with doing this on a daily basis, particularly with people. People, in professional and personal realms, are multi-faceted and complex. They are products of their collective experiences, emotions and environment. Those components determine their actions, how they feel about and react to different experiences/events and whether or not they choose to engage with your brand or company.
Because of this, and the shift in technological tools and capabilities afforded by a digital world, marketers are tasked with achieving greater understanding of their audiences. It’s all about context. As something that will greatly shape the philosophies, tools and strategies we adopt in marketing, the topic merits a deeper discussion. What is context? Why is it important in marketing? How does context influence and play into strategy?
What is context?
Out of curiosity, I googled the word context. A few interesting definitions popped up. The first being, “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” The first from the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary said, “the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.”
The goal of context is greater understanding – so something, or someone, “can be fully understood and assessed.” The second definition is even more interesting in the context of marketing. With a shift to inbound marketing, there is greater emphasis on cultivating relationships, on having conversations with our customers. And that increased communication leads to a greater understanding.
Why does context matter in marketing?
We market to people. And people are products of their experiences, emotions and environments. The focus of inbound marketing, at its most basic level, is about pairing customers and companies that are the best fit for one another. This means marketers attract their ideal buyers, rather than firing messages into a great void hoping someone responds. Today’s customer has little patience for companies they feel don’t understand them or their problems. It is too easy to google and find a load of alternatives to your product or service, with reviews from other customers.
First step: you have to care.
You have to care enough to try to understand your customers and to implement processes and tools that enable that understanding. It takes some work, but it pays off – figuratively and literally. Companies that care enough to have comprehensive customer records and target content and messages appropriately see it in their bottom line.
Second step: you have to have the processes and tools in place.
HubSpot (a marketing automation software company) found that, out of a survey of 93,000 calls-to-action, those CTAs that changed based on relevancy to the viewer experienced a 42% spike in view-to-submission rates. This kind of customization is achieved with the appropriate tools and processes.
How does context play into strategy?
For marketers, tools are integral in gaining that necessary context. Marketing automation tools are great because they save us time, but they also enable us to gather a wealth of information about individual prospects, leads and customers, so we may better understand them as a whole. And so we may effectively target them with customized CTAs, content offers, landing pages, etc. We get closer and closer to one-to-one marketing with this customization based on the context of each individual customer, lead or prospect. We can see context’s increasing importance in new tools and practices, such as Twitter adding related headlines to tweets to help readers understand the greater conversation around a popular tweet.
To remain ahead of the curve and capture new and repeat business, you need a strategy that includes
- A segmented customer base (this requires a good understanding of your buyer personas).
- Dynamic CTAs, landing pages, content offers, etc.
- Technology that supports your strategy
- Comprehensive, easily accessible customer records
- People who understand and implement all those “context clues” you get from your customers
Think about your current strategy. Do you track what leads download, blog posts they view, when they bought from you? Do you know the chief problems their industry has trouble addressing? What problems they encounter on the job? Do they lack time, budget or resources? Do you have a designated person that responds to online customer reviews or complaints? Are these transactions recorded?
The answers to these questions give you context for your marketing efforts. If I feel like you understand me and my problems and have a relevant solution, why wouldn’t I want to talk to your company?
About Digital Impact Agency
Digital Impact Agency is a creative firm specializing in interactive media and inbound marketing strategies for manufacturing and technology companies, professional service firms (architectural, engineering, construction, legal and consulting), nonprofits and enterprise companies. We are a team of innovative entrepreneurs focused on creating the most strategic and effective communication channels for our clients.