Have you ever had the feeling that an article was speaking directly to you and to nobody else?
This may have occurred because the content you read was personalized for you. This article outlines what kind of personalized content is available, how you can deliver it to your customers and why you should do it.
It is a little bit heavy on the technical side but I believe even if you are the non-technical marketer you can greatly benefit from learning about these techniques.
Content marketing targets specific personas and personalization takes the approach one step further.
Personalized content relies on software, algorithms and trackers to deliver a specific content to a specific user.
Studies have shown that personalized content is more effective. I believe we are all subconsciously aware of this fact. Would you rather have me call you “You” or by your name? It’s only natural to feel better when somebody refers to you by your name. I remember your name; you must be important to me.
“Knowing your audience is important when creating content in any form. When I say ‘knowing’ I mean understanding what their interests are, the challenges they face, where they spend time online and most of all, what will motivate them to take action.” (http://www.brianhonigman.com/personalize-content-marketing/)
There are extra ways to personalize a message in addition to simply adding the recipient’s name.
After all, personalization is just a smart and automated segmentation of your target audience. You must come up with the strategy yourself.
All users on the internet are subjected to more information than any person can process.
You lift the burden off the consumer by sorting content and presenting the right content at the right time. Convenience rules. You make the user’s life easier because automation makes them see something relevant immediately and eliminates the need to search for it. This is especially the case when you want a user to search for something that they don’t even know is out there.
And let’s face it, most users have already become accustomed to it:
Your Facebook newsfeed is a personalized stream of information. (Some even call it a bubble.)
Amazon shows you products that you might like, based on your previous purchases or your recent searches.
All big four (google, amazon, Facebook and apple) are working constantly on delivering and improving a user’s personalization with dedicated developers. Why? Because it pays off.
Alexa and Siri are aimed to adapt to your behavior. Google is permanently assessing your behavior to figure out your context of search and to use this information to show you the most relevant search results.
Email marketing software like mailchimp offers merge fields. These are essentially placeholders to fill in user data from your database. And this is not really a brand-new feature. Remember, before email became the new standard of sending written communication, word and excel were already letting you send personalized letters. But let’s stay focused on how you can apply it to your content marketing strategy.
Plug-in a dynamic text replacement tool.
Replacing content is the most obvious form of personalization and a dynamic text replacement tool will let you do that.
Replace words in your copy or headlines
Replace images and graphics in your articles
Replace button text on your CTA’s
Set a trigger for your personalization.
Each personalization should be set up in anticipation of customer behavior and should be based on your target audience segments. You can use past behaviors and immediate behaviors to set your triggers.
Keep your efforts cost-effective.
Smaller businesses must remain considerate about personalizing content because each personalized content piece requires additional resources. Instead of developing software yourself, I advise you to use an existing solution.
Quick list of personalized content software providers:
Alternatively, you can use a plugin for your wordpress website.
Let’s have a look at the triggers that you can set for the “If-So” plugin. It will give you a good idea on how to set up various personalized messages.
Filter content by geolocation (a city, country, or even a zip code).
It is viable to filter content by the user’s location if you are present in different markets. I remember Neil Patel talking about his landing pages and how adding a dynamic module, which adds the users city name to a headline, increased his conversion rate by 20%.
Filter content by a user’s device.
Here is an assumption: if you use an expensive device to surf online (such as the latest version iPhone or the iPad Pro), you are more likely to be less price-sensitive than an android user with a “cheap” LG smart phone. Is this true? I couldn’t find definite evidence, but some articles suspect that amazon takes the user’s device into consideration when configuring their dynamic pricing strategies.
Filter by start and end date.
This filter is less effective to deliver a personalized message. However, it can be used to display specific content at certain times. Let’s pretend for a moment that you have discovered some of your customers love to order during the night. (Hello Tele-Shopping!) Maybe they are also willing to pay more during the night than during the day. Or you can utilize this feature to create limited time offers, it’s up to you and your strategy.
Filter by user login / user groups.
Once a user has made an account with you, your options of personalizing become much broader. A user account allows you to track a certain user, while other methods of tracking, like cookies, are less precise.
Have you ever tried to browse Facebook without an account or having logged in? Well, it’s a pretty lousy experience. However, it is tailored to trigger you into making an account. Because you can only see a preview and are excluded through the inability to participate. I would say it probably successfully annoys you into opening an account, but that is just my opinion.
This strategy only works for big players that have enough pull towards them. As a small business, you can’t really afford to annoy your users too much and force them into a relationship with you. But there are other applications that make sense for your business.
One option would be to add content to your website that is only visible to customers. You can cluster customers into different groups, as well as promote users or incentivize them.
Filter by referral source.
Another interesting way of filtering your content is to analyze from which website your visitor is referred to you.
Let’s pretend you have just published an article, ad or other content somewhere on the web. Now you can use this address to show visitors a customized piece of content.
How you use this method is up to your imagination, but I suggest you use the web presence the user found you from as a reference to make your content extremely relatable.
Filter by browser language.
Multi-lingual websites rely on this filter to decide which content to display. It is most effectively used in combination with the user’s geolocation.
Dynamic URL / Query-string.
A dynamic URL allows you to transport and track personalization parameters. This one is a little bit more technical than the other methods and is best explained with a short example. It is kind of like tracking somebody’s referral source but with added tracking functionality.
Let’s pretend a visitor has just filled out a contact form on your website (www.name.com/contact). His information is passed on to a personalized thank you page (www.name.com/contact?name=Peter&lastname=Pan).
The parameters “name” and “lastname” can now be used to display a personalized thank you message. “Thank you for submitting our contact form, Peter Pan.”
With dynamic links in place, your analytics will be more meaningful. After all, the URL is logged into the analytics. By adding dynamic parameters to a URL, you can get more information out of your analytics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UTM_parameters).
Filter first time visitors and returning visitors.
You only have one shot to make a first impression. Now you get another one. And another.
Great content marketing puts the value for the reader front and center. If your website tracks each visit, you will be able to know how many times a user has been on your website already. (If they haven’t deleted their cookies, yet – when have you last deleted your browser’s cookies? - please leave a comment if you do so on a regular basis.)
So now you can set a first-time welcome message, a second-visit “welcome back” and a “you are here again, why don’t you buy already?” third-time visit trigger.
FCC Changes to net neutrality will probably be a game changer.
With the upcoming regulatory changes of the FCC in regard to net neutrality, I am already anticipating changes for content personalization.
Currently, efforts are being pushed that would give ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) many more rights to track, analyze, limit and sell each user’s online habits.
Presently, most tracking relies on either cookies that individual website owners use, or aggravated data of ad networks like Facebook and google. But this data is incomplete because it cannot yet be analyzed in a central place. Imagine a puzzle with a few pieces missing.
Even the most non-technical versed users will understand that all their online actions must pass through the internet connection and can therefore be evaluated in a central place – by your internet service provider.
Legalizing this kind of tracking would enable ISP’s to sell profiles, which in turn can be used to deliver extremely personalized content.
It is not yet clear how and who would have access to those kinds of profiles and what it would cost to use them.
If you have the resources available, use them to personalize your content. Develop a strategy first and think about how you are going to implement personalization into your content marketing.
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