Nobody wants a generic experience with a brand.
Not everyone is the same, and this should be reflected in the interactions a brand has with its consumers — you don’t want to be served ads for dog insurance when you have no pets or get emails launching the latest enterprise software when you’re a one-person show. It’s a turn-off and will ultimately diminish trust in a brand.
This is why content personalization has become such an important factor in marketing. Providing customers with a unique experience and relevant information based on their individual wants, needs, and interests solidifies relationships and increases engagement.
It’s a win-win situation: consumers get content they want and brands spark better connections with prospects.
What is Content Personalization?
Content personalization is a marketing tactic that uses insights and information about consumers to serve them content that’s the right fit for them. It takes basic information like gender, age, and location, as well as more abstract data like interests and behavior and uses it to create an experience based on that. For example, consumers who live in Houston might get specific content about Houston events.
How Does Content Personalization Work?
Creating a personalized content experience means understanding your customers’ unique preferences and needs. This means unlocking key insights from the data you have available, whether it’s the keywords they type into search engines, their personal information, or how they act when they’re on your website or social media pages.
When it’s all brought together, this data paints a 360 view of each customer which enables you to share the right content with them at the right time.
Luckily you don’t have to collect and sift through this data manually anymore (go back a few years and it was near-on impossible to create personalized experiences at scale). Thanks to machine learning and AI, it’s easier than ever to mine customer data and use the information sourced to deliver personalized messages.
In action, content personalization might look like this:
- Consumer lands on your website using the keyword “cheap project management tool”
- They check out your product page and sign up for your email list
- They use a chatbot to ask a few questions about the product, during which they share that they are the project manager at a graphic design company
- They leave your website without buying
- You use the data about their job role and their interest level in your product to serve them an ad created specifically for project managers and a personalized email that shares some key benefits your product provides people like them
The consumer in this example then has the information they need to make a decision.
The most common way to conduct content personalization is to segment consumers based on specific information that you uncover. We’ll talk more in a bit about the different kinds of data you can collect (and the different ways you can collect it), but first here’s a quick overview of popular ways to segment consumers so you can serve personalized content:
- Demographic information: basic facts like age, gender, job role, and location
- Interests: the products they have shown interest in or what kind of activities they get up to in their spare time (are they yoga lovers? Do they enjoy craft beer? Are they big Star Wars fans?)
- Sales cycle stage: where they are in the sales cycle (are they right at the start and only just becoming aware of a need, or are they nearer the bottom and comparing their available options?)
- Website behavior: the pages they visit on your website and the actions they take while there
- Psychographic information: their challenges, goals, dreams, and fears
- Life stage: where they are at in their life (are they at college? Have they just had their first child?)
You can get super niche with your segmenting by combining two or more of these data points.
For example, you might create a segment of consumers who are project managers in Atlanta, are at the bottom of the sales cycle, and have a very strict budget. You can then serve them content like product comparisons and case studies from previous project managers to alleviate their budget concerns and help them take the plunge.
Why is Content Personalization Important?
First and foremost, content personalization serves targeted, relevant content to consumers to increase their engagement levels and establish trust. This is more important than ever since people today expect personalization. They don’t want generic brand experiences, they want a unique journey that’s based on their own wants and needs.
Brands that are able to do this can end up dramatically shortening the sales cycle and creating loyal customers that keep coming back for more.
In fact, one survey revealed that half of the brands that personalize their marketing content see a 300% ROI over the course of their relationship with a customer. So, not only does content personalization provide an excellent and memorable customer experience, but it also increases revenue and loyalty.
Using Zero-Party Data to Get Detailed Customer Insights
There’s nothing quite as effective as getting information straight from the horse’s mouth. Sure, you can dig into your website analytics and social media stats to find out basic information about prospects, but learning what they like and don’t like from them is a sure-fire way to get the information you need to truly personalize their experience.
Zero-party data is essentially the information that customers willingly hand over to a brand, like the reason they’re interested in a product, their goals, and their biggest challenges or setbacks.
There are several ways you can collect this data:
- At the point of registration: when a customer registers for your product you can ask them what their main goal is or what use case they’re most excited about
- Social media polls: ask your followers to share their thoughts on a specific topic or ask a question that will give you juicy data in response
- Emails or SMS: encourage prospects to share information like their birthday or the products they’re most interested in via email
- Customer reviews: when collecting feedback ask customers to share some key attributes or simply dig into the comments they provide
- During email list signup: ask prospects to share the kind of content they want to receive and the topics they’re most interested in
This kind of information can be really valuable for forging deeper connections with customers based on information that might otherwise be tricky to get hold of.
How to Use Content Personalization in Your Strategy
Now you know why content personalization is important and the different ways you can segment your audience, let’s look at how you can incorporate this tactic into your overall marketing strategy to increase engagement and deliver better experiences.
1. Collect Customer Data
The first step is to collect as much customer data as you can. You can tap into sources like:
- Website analytics
- Social media data
- Email marketing data
- Customer support tickets
Bring all this information together in a CRM where you can manage it and tag customers to create niche segments based on their behavior and interests. This is also the stage where you can collect zero-party data to bulk out customer profiles and hone in even more on their unique wants and needs.
2. Create Content for Different Customer Segments
You’ll start to see patterns and similarities between your customers once you start digging into data. For example, you might notice that there are a lot of customers who are stuck at the bottom of the sales cycle because they have objections about your high-ticket product. This is the point where you can put together different types of content for the different segments you have created. Content here might include:
- Ad campaigns for customers at different stages of the sales cycle
- Whitepapers for enterprise prospects
- Blog posts for customers at the top of the funnel
- Product comparisons and cases studies based on the job roles your customers fall under
- Product-related email marketing campaigns based on customer on-site behavior
Having the content readily available means you can automatically serve it to the right customers at the right time with the help of a robust CRM.
This is also a good time to use a scoring model that includes data from product analytics tools, customer data platforms, and web analytics to analyze customers’ behavior and provide them with an interest score. This score will determine what content they see at each stage of the sales cycle. Breadcrumbs’ powerful features make this process really simple.
3. Tweak and Optimize
No strategy is complete without tracking, measuring, and tweaking. It’s unlikely you’ll get your content personalization strategy right the first time, but if you consistently measure the results you’re getting, like how customers are engaging with your content and their response to the content you serve, you can get a better understanding of their needs.
Again, this can all be filtered into your CRM and added as another data point (a.k.a. another layer to segment customers).
Think about tracking metrics like:
- Time spent on site
- Email list signups
- Email open and click-through rates
- Click through rates on retargeted ads
All of this information goes into understanding your prospects better which, at the end of the day, means you can create an even slicker customer experience that’s personalized from start to finish.
Get Started With Content Personalization
Content personalization is almost a necessity these days if you want to stand out and make an impression with prospects. Creating a personalized experience backed by relevant, targeted content is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build customer relationships and speed up the sales cycle.
Start by collecting different kinds of customer data (don’t forget zero-party data!) and using that to populate customer profiles in your CRM. When you’ve created different content types for each segment, you can automate serving the content so that people received the right information at the right time.