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Content or Context Is King? I’ve Finally Decided!

The debate continues to rage about whether content or context is king in the battle for online attention and building a business (i.e. driving traffic, conversion, etc). Reality is that it is, of course, a combination of both content and context. Let us be clear though that, if you don’t have a good (not to mention great) product, neither content nor context will suffice. And that includes media companies.

An Example of Good Content

A subject that I find eminently important in this digital world — and that gets little play time — is the notion of the end game. How should websites, forums and social media accounts be sunsetted? In the same vein, I have also considered the concept of the digital will. How should one manage one’s online assets and presence after departing from this terrestrial life? One company, LastPass, which is the stalwart password management site I use, decided to write about the need for a digital will. The content of the blog post was wholly pertinent and useful. And I recommend you read it (see below for the link once you’ve finished this article!).

Why Context is Vital

There was a fundamental flaw to this email and blog post from LastPass: timing. It was sent to me at the most peculiar of hours, not to say awfully wrong: Christmas eve. Why on earth would one send an email blast at 3PM of Saturday Dec 24th to remind us of our fatality? If the blog post was originally penned in April, the email marketing team saw fit to remind everyone with a blast in the most scroogely of manners, the night before St Nicholas was to show up.

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Moreover, even before getting started, LastPass’ email blast contained a second fundamental flaw: a contextually worrying link. When I clicked on the link in Google Chrome, this is the pop up error message I got:

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Hardly reassuring to have a pop-up from a password protection site saying:

“Attackers might be trying to steal your information from link.e.lastpass.com (for example, passwords, messages or credit cards).”

You can imagine that I didn’t click on that link quickly. From a safe site, I did finally read the article out of dogged curiosity. The content of the article was most educational. There were many good tips, including the option to set up your legacy contact on Facebook, Google and Instagram. They even were spot on about how I would rather not spend this Christmas eve afternoon: “Creating a digital will may not be your preferred way to spend a Saturday afternoon…” But, as far as tone and timing were concerned, it was a big fail of a feeling.

Is Content or Context King?

So is Content or Context more important? Surely, the content in this particular blog post was very good. If the post was serving LastPass’ purpose and soft-peddling the company’s own services, the material within the post was relevant and useful for anyone not using their services. However, timing absolutely matters. The date of delivery and the opening mechanics are part of context. And on this count, LastPass might better have labeled themselves LastBreath or LastDay! A deathly sense of humor, much less timing. I can just imagine the author of this email wanting to get it out to the LastPass database. Maybe he/she needed an extra conversion boost before year-end? Maybe they just mechanically pre-populate their blog posts and emails without regard for the surrounding context? Maybe the email marketing manager just didn’t think it all through. [My vote!] In any event, I have to believe that this LastPass email and blog post didn’t win over as many people as they had hoped!

Bottom line: Bad content with the right context or good content with the wrong context? The former is a mistake. The latter is a waste.

On balance, I have to believe that a lot of people are creating a lot of good content.If content is all much of a muchness, then it’s context that will win out. The real differentiator is delivering the message in the right manner, through the right channel and at the right time.

Your thoughts?

AND DON’T FORGET TO READ: Lastpass’ article about digital will

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