Insights from the Tactical to the Strategic
It’s becoming harder and harder to reach today’s consumers.
Almost every marketer is creating and sharing new content about their brand every day. A good content strategy with an effective distribution plan no longer guarantees that your content will get seen by your target audience.
So how do you make sure the content you’re producing stands out from your competition and win a customer’s attention? Content personalization. By getting the right content in front of the right people at the right time through the right channels, you can much more effectively engage and convert your target audience into customers for your business.
Personalization is about targeting content that is tailored to individuals based on their needs and interests. Why is this important? With the flood of content people are exposed to every day, they will only read what is relevant and valuable to them. And sadly the rest will just be ignored and won’t ever get read.
To cut through the clutter and make your target audience stop to read and engage with your content, it needs to speak to the challenges they have, and offers the solutions they’re looking for.
Personalization can be quite difficult when it comes to content marketing. As Rebecca Lieb of Altimeter Group says, content marketing tends to be of longer form and less automated compared to other personalized marketing activities like banner ads or email. So if you’re working with very little budget and resources, is content marketing personalization even possible?
The good news is that it is possible! Here are some tips and ideas to help you get started with content marketing personalization:
1. Understand Your Audience
Who is your target audience? What are the challenges and pain points that are keeping them up at night? When, where, why and how do they look for solutions and access content?
Conducting external research and competitive analysis will help you learn more about your prospects, but you’ll also want to leverage the customer data and insights you already have to inform your content personalization strategy.
Jon Miller, the former VP of Marketing and Co-founder of Marketo, recommends marketers to even talk to people who work at the companies you’re targeting. Find out what they care about the most and what is really relevant to them. Learn the kind of language they use. And when you create your content, you can use the language they use so it speaks and resonates with them.
Ultimately you want to develop a deep understanding of whom your brand is communicating with, what types of topics and content your target audience wants and needs, and once you have those insights, personalization can be applied through different content topics and formats, channels and platforms based on their preferences.
2. Start Small And Scale Smart
Content personalization takes work, even with the right technologies. You don’t want to lose the personalized element and revert back to the traditional marketing approach.
Doug Kessler, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Velocity Partners, suggests starting with segmenting by discipline, either vertical or geography, then behavior-triggered content as the next step.
For those who are familiar with Account Based Marketing (ABM), you essentially narrow down to a number of high value accounts you want to target and can manage, and focus your marketing efforts on developing and implementing personalized content and communication that is highly specific and relevant to a prospect and their needs.
To grow and scale your efforts, Miller recommends marketers to develop 1-3 templated content that provides the backbone, which they can then use to customize based on the insights they have gathered on a specific customer. This would help speed up the content creation process without needing to start from scratch for every account and compromising on the quality of your content.
Personalization also goes beyond the content marketers produce. As the Founder and CEO of Curata Pawan Deshpande suggests, personalizing curated content is often easier and can be just as valuable for prospects and customers.
For example, based on what you know about a specific list of email subscribers, you can personalize the content in your newsletter so you are only sharing pieces that are most relevant to them. Track to see which pieces resonate with them the most, and you can get even more granular and further personalize your content to include multiple topics, content types (i.e. infographics, videos, etc.) and authors that they would be most interested in reading about.
3. Leverage Data And Technology
Data is inseparable from an effective content personalization strategy. Not only is data used to gain insights into your target audience’s needs and interests, data can also be used to predict future trends and behavior patterns so you can create personalized content that not only build and expand your existing relationships, but also effectively deepen engagement with your prospects and customers at every point of interaction throughout the buyer’s journey.
As Miller explains, with content personalization, when you send someone in your nurture path offering them content A through an email for example, if they engage with the piece you can immediately expose them to content B. And if they engage with content B you can automatically trigger another personalized email offering them content C.
Content personalization allows you to move prospects through the process much faster by taking advantage of their attention and engagement now, rather than waiting for a week or two to reach out after they engage with the initial piece of content you send them or through a lead gen form.
This is why technology plays a critical role here. You want to make sure all your marketing technology, including your web analytics tools, content management system and other data sources, can be connected to provide deeper insights into your prospects and customers, so you can personalize further content and communication based on these insights as well as automating and managing your personalization efforts in a much more efficient manner.
Working together, data and technology can help you deliver a seamless, highly personalized omni-channel experience for your prospects and customers at every point of interaction with your content based on their needs, interests and preferences, allowing your brand to stand out from your competitors and engage your target audience more deeply and ultimately convert.