We've all heard the term content marketing. Content marketing is one of the fundamental mechanisms of inbound marketing, promoted by companies like Hubspot. But at Inbound 2012, Hubspot was also talkingout-of-context-marketing about context marketing. While not a new term, context marketing is something Hubspot hasn’t made a central part of its success formula in the past. So what is context marketing and why is it important?

First let’s establish that content marketing is the practice of writing educational, informative content, related to your product or service, which establishes your brand as the go-to resource for whatever it is that you do best. It attracts prospects. Hubspot’s massive content library on inbound marketing is a great object lesson on the effectiveness of content marketing.

What is Context Marketing?

Context marketing is a set of best practices designed to amplify the value of your content to your prospects and customers. More specifically it’s about using known qualities of your prospect to either present your content in a frame of reference so that its presence makes it natural, noteworthy and usefulor or to juxtapose your content so that it creates disonance - like the image in this blog - which would create contextual disonance no matter how it's used!

Inception, a movie about the possibility of influencing reality by manipulating the subconscious, and one of my favorite movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio, uses context effectively in its storyline.  The way a dreamer recognizes manipulation is when characters or events in his dream are out of context. As with your marketing, being out of context has real and terrible results for the characters in Inception and being in context allows the characters to accomplish amazing things.

NewsJack This: Context Marketing At Work

So how does context marketing work in, well, marketing? Newsjacking is a great example of context marketing. On November 17th, 2011, President Barack Obama visited the out-of-the-way town of Darwin, Australia. The event was known in advance and it was a certainty the media would cover the president’s every move. As a welcoming gift, the local government gave the president a free $50,000 crocodile insurance policy covering crocodile attacks while he was visiting. What was every news personality around the globe talking about on November 17th? Crocodile insurance and Darwin, Australia. This is an example of juxtaposed content where the context of an American president and crocodile insurance caused the news media to stop and take note, resulting in massive publicity for what otherwise would have been a ho-hum event.

Context Marketing: The Key To Amazon's Amazing Performance

A little closer to home, we experience context marketing every time we shop at Amazon.com. The online retailer is masterful in its use of information it gathers about us to present information at what seems just the moment we need it and in a way that feels helpful not obnoxious. Some examples:

  • Email reminders that items were left in our shopping cart
  • Online suggestions of items similar to those we are considering
  • Online reviews by others who purchased items we are considering
  • Email reminders of sales specifically targeting items we’ve expressed interest in
  • Email notices when new titles become available from authors we’ve purchased from

I’m certain there are many other examples… but the point is that the value of our own content can be amplified by context marketing. Hubspot calls this marketing people love.

Master This To Become An Effective Context Marketer

So how do we master context marketing? Mastery begins by owning the prospect persona for your audience. Unless and until you understand your prospect’s persona, all the automation or fancy software in the world won’t help you become an effective context marketer. It’s especially important to expand the personas you develop to include related interests and activities – even negative interests can be effective. One of the ways marketers are building more intelligent prospect personas is with social listening tools like Social Ears. Social Ears creates an intelligent prospect persona using information like keywords and content to crawl millions of blogs and social media posts to find the most influential online voices discussing information in the context of your interests. Technologies like Social Ears are new and today only have application to specific vertical markets but represent a new generation of tools mere mortal online marketers can use to consistently put their content in the right context to resonate with their prospects.

How have you used context marketing and what best practices have enabled you to put your content in frame of reference than amplifies response?

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