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Context is King

Jan 03, 2011
Oshyn Labs
Oshyn Labs

Content is King....or is that Context is King?

2009 and 2010 were drunk with the phrase, “Content is King” and many arguments for why "Content is NOT King". A popular argument in 2010 was that Context is the new King. Irrelevant content comes at a cost when relevant website visitors (aka potential buyers) leave your website before finding your content that is relevant to them. I’ve been reading a white paper by Ian Truscott and Scott Leiwehr which discusses the same premise. In this white paper Ian and Scott also highlighted that, “Engagement has become the new currency in this era of marketing overload.”

I won’t say that Context is King because without content there is no context, right? Without the right web technologies we can’t put the content in the right context. Without the right content or context there's less opportunity to engage website visitors. So before we start chanting Context is King or campaigning that Content is NOT King..let’s remember what’s really important….

The overall goal is to make online business more effective

Over at “Content Here”, Seth recently wrote, “Teams need to start with the content rather than the container. We will know we are close when we stop seeing lorem ipsum in wirefames...” This was part of Seth’s wish list for content management in 2011. Seth…I hear you...I applaud you..I’m doing cartwheels in support of this wish. Shouldn't we first focus on identifying our content strategy and understanding the context in which it will be consumed?

If all those involved in creating the website design and user experience understand the contextual relevance of the content - wouldn't that help create more engaging websites (aka web experiences)?

Mobile is the right Context

We know that people are increasingly browsing the web with their mobile devices: mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, netbooks and laptops. And people are not just browsing the web – they are using web applications to further engage. One problem companies are now facing is how to make their websites more user-friendly via mobile access. One stumbling block here is that many companies are trying to modify their content to be better accessed via mobile. Some are creating apps for specific devices even when access by those devices represents only a portion of their potential online buyers. Hopefully in 2011 more companies will consider mobile an essential component of any website design or redesign and plan for it from the beginning by assessing of the context of mobile engagement before designing a mobile web presence. From my own consumer experience, it seems that generally companies are very slow to respond to the differences in what content mobile users might be looking for. Example: shoudn’t retailers at the very least make it easier for mobile users to access information about locations and hours? Will mobile users object more strongly to websites that do not use GeoIP lookup and send them to homepages that require the visitor to select their region requiring unnecessary page load times and in some cases - data charges?

Though this presentation is very technically-oriented in parts, I think it’s superb in helping people think out-of-the-box when thinking about mobile development. (FYI this is not an Oshyn presentation – I’m sharing this for the sake of demonstrating how big the mobile audience is in the first 30 pages of the presentation and why companies need to take mobile seriously.)

“Context” adds a level of clarity to the online marketing dilemma.

Jay Baer recently wrote on the Junta42’s blog:

"2011 will be the year that we begin to have a unified view of subscribers, fans, and followers. API-driven advances in CRM and databases will enable companies to better understand the full array of their digital marketing and social media relationships. This will allow brands to communicate more coherently, and with context and relevance. Being able to send an email only to people that have clicked a particular Sending a Facebook status update only to people that have visited a particular product page on your website. That’s the future, and it starts in 2011."

Will Marketers start shouting "Content Strategy is King!" in 2011?

Well Clare McDermott, Editor of Chief Content Officer magazine, thinks that in 2011 marketers will take content marketing strategy more seriously:

"In the last few years, marketers jumped on content marketing simply because “everyone is doing it.” With more experience under their belts, brand marketers will become more sophisticated in their use of content to reach customers. For example, matching content to the sales cycle, designing and distributing mobile content, and realizing that certain functions (ie. marketing automation) are best outsourced to experts.

And here’s the part that is less about prediction and more about dreamy hope:Let’s hope that 2011 gives us more examples of B2B marketers taking risks with content. That means having uber-intelligent, fresh points of view about issues in your industry; publishing content that is smart and at times wickedly funny; hiring talented designers to infuse your content with personality and edge; using your employees as the face of your business in blogs and video; finally, thinking long and hard before adopting an e-newsletter. Let me turn that last one into a prediction: hordes of businesses will abandon the e-newsletter format because no one is reading them."

Well Clare McDermott might be onto something with the point about newsletter abandonment. Lots of companies build databases for their newsletters and then basically spam their audience, lacking information about what their audience really wants. For example, some companies obtain your email address and begin sending emails several times a week. It doesn’t take long before their email address is blocked or the unsubscribe button clicked. When it comes to email marketing, companies need to invest in technologies that will help them better understand where people are at in the buying process, and what their targets are really interested in and react accordingly. Yep…it’s not a solution that will happen overnight – and there are Web Content Management platforms that do a pretty bang up job of helping companies understand how users are interacting on their websites and how they are engaging – that information can be used to create more effective emails.

The Web Experience King

If we focus on the contextual relevance of content, use the right web technologies to deliver content, design around the context of the user experience - we will see more engaging websites. Keep your fingers crossed Seth, your wish might come true.

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