There’s a concept that’s pervasive in the content marketing field that each time you put your brand and message in front of the audience – wherever they are in the customer journey – you should “delight” them.

It’s not a bad idea. It encourages you to find new and interesting ways to create a positive impression of your company in the mind of the audience. You want to surprise, inform and help them and they should come away from the interaction feeling as if your company is a good one and one they will consider doing business with in the future.

A basic understanding of audience dynamics will tell you that’s not always possible, and striving to attain such goals, as laudable as they may be, will only drive you a little more insane every time you try.

Delivery Impacts Reception

We live and operate in a time where delivery is possible through any number of platforms and technologies. Email, RSS, web publishing, social media and various print media are all at the fingertips of most content marketing professionals. Which ones are chosen will vary based not only on the preferences and capabilities of the marketers but (hopefully) also on which are preferred by the potential audience.

Despite that level of control, something that’s wholly unique to content marketing in the 21st century, we still don’t have control over what environment that content is delivered into.

Back to my earlier example, if your email encouraging Carl to download a white paper based on the webinar he attended last week arrives right after an urgent message saying he needs to do three days of research and evaluation before the end of the day, he’s going to have zero interest in it.

Likewise, if the Tweet you crafted to generate action is displayed right after Karen reads one about immigrant children being illegally detained in her state, she may not even register it. Or your lead-generation blog post might show up in Kyle’s RSS feed right after the trailer for a new movie he’s looking forward to, so he blithely skips right past it while still chuckling at Will Ferrell’s antics.

And all of that doesn’t even get into how your post on Facebook or Instagram is likely going to be repressed by algorithm changes that prioritize updates from friends over brand messages.

Distribution options are plentiful, but there’s still almost nothing content marketing professionals can do to control the context it’s received by the audience in to.