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The Internet gave everybody the opportunity to have a voice, which pushed businesses of all sizes to become content publishers. Businesses in both B2B and B2C industries that wanted to stay in front of their audience online had to develop content that would then be distributed over blogs, social profiles and websites to keep search engines recommending their pages and their consumers aware of their products. But not all content is the same. In fact, each piece of content should have a specific purpose and speak to specific subgroups within your audience, and this requires context.

Context is what differentiates content and makes it resonate with different people in your audience. This context is the key to deciding what to say and how to say it. For instance, how a consumer uses your product changes the way you would talk about that product with him or her. And there are other contextual considerations to take into account as well: What other products does the group use? Are the individuals existing or new customers? What are their interests? These are just a few examples of questions that need answering in order to properly create content with the right context that will connect with your target audience.

To more simply understand  how context helps you make better content decisions, let’s play a game. Imagine a simple board game with a series of squares that indicate a path. Your job is to move all your pieces to the end of the board using a die (you move the number of spaces the die shows after each roll). You must choose five game tokens from a pile of five red, five blue and five yellow game tokens. Which color tokens would you choose?

board_game_context

You might choose based on your favorite color, or perhaps you decide to choose matching colors. You might not care much and just take whichever pieces are in front of you. Without any context given to you on how those pieces affect the game, you make up your own context based on your preferences. The lack of information about the pieces keeps you from making informed decisions. What if I told you that the yellow pieces move double the number of spaces shown on the die? With those pieces you could win the game twice as fast, and I bet with that new information you would choose yellow pieces over red or blue. This new context about how the game functions lets you play the game better. That’s the power of context when making decisions about your content.

Now what if I told you that specific pieces of content targeting a subgroup in your audience make them 50 percent more likely to make a purchase within 24 hours? I’m willing to bet that knowing this context – just like in the game – would make you more likely to choose this content over another piece of content.

Context should be driving your content strategy. It gives you the ability to influence your audience’s behaviors through your content more effectively. There are a number of tactics for content, and they all hinge on one important idea: The content connects with your audience. This means you have to understand your audience well, both as individuals and as segments. Even small changes to language in rational whitepapers can make a big difference in how your audience connects with that content. You are likely already doing this on a small scale with A/B testing of email subject lines or landing pages. Why treat any other content differently? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and your website all communicate marketing messages that are intended to support your brand and ultimately drive sales. The beauty of social media is that it is conversational in most cases and you can make adjustments as you speak with your audience. Test what works and what does not. Refine what works and test more. building_context

To begin building context you can source information from a variety of places, such as your audience’s social profiles and your business’s database. Cross-referencing data points gives you a great overview of your audience. Find trends and commonalities to create subgroups and begin building an informed view of your audience. Here are a few more questions you should ask yourself about your audience in order to build better context:

  • What are their personal interests?
  • Are they aware of your product?
  • Are they considering your product?
  • Have they purchased your product before?
  • How often do they purchase your product?
  • How do they use your product?
  • What other products do they use?
  • What are their political views?
  • What is their religion?
  • What languages do they speak?
  • Where do they live?
  • In what industry to they work?
  • How often do they travel?
  • What economic factors might affect them?
  • What is their income and how does that affect their purchase behavior?
  • Have they referred business to you?
  • What cultural interests do they have?
  • What is their favorite sports team?
  • Are they the primary decision maker for your product?
  • What is their family structure?
  • Do they have pets?
  • What are their moral values?
  • What do they post about most often?
  • What online publications do they share or read?
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