Knowing content personalization is important; doing it well is two different things. And if your efforts aren’t generating your desired results, it might be time for a refresh.
The good news is this: every small thing you do to better understand content personalization brings you closer to maximizing your content’s impact on its target audience.
In that spirit, let’s dive into the concept of content personalization. We’ll cover what it is, why it’s essential, and how it can specifically enhance your ABM strategy. Then, we’ll break down some of the best content personalization strategies we use in our own content marketing to help you get started.
Mastering the Art of Content Personalization
Currently, most marketplaces are oversaturated, which means generic messaging isn’t going to cut it. Creating content that speaks specifically to their unique needs and pain points is essential to stand out from the competition and build a quality connection with your customers.
What is content personalization?
Content personalization is developing and delivering targeted content to specific groups within your wider audience. How does it do that specifically? Normally, through the use of demographic, behavioral, and socioeconomic data.
One of the simplest examples is Netflix. As you watch something on their service, they collect data on your viewing habits. Then, they use their algorithm to recommend other content they think you’ll like. That way, they increase their chances of keeping you on their service.
In content marketing, a strong content personalization strategy goes beyond just using a customer’s first name or making a simple recommendation. It’s about using an individual’s preferences, behaviors, and interests to craft tailored content that resonates and engages with them. That deeper level of engagement should ultimately lead to increased brand loyalty, trust, and conversions.
Why is content personalization important?
Right now, customers expect a personalized experience. They want to feel like a brand understands them and what they’re going through. A recent Salesforce study showed that 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person and not a number is crucial to winning their business. Not only that:
- 89 percent of marketers see a positive ROI when they use content personalization
- Companies can generate 40 percent more revenue from personalization
- 76 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase if your messaging is personalized
Alright, enough stats for now. Let’s discuss why content personalization is especially important to an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy.
Elevating Your ABM Strategy with Personalized Content
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing is where the sales and marketing teams work together to define, identify, engage, and sell to a highly targeted set of client accounts. The sales team gives input on who they want to sell to, and the marketing team creates personalized assets that speak directly to this audience.
Account-based marketing has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and it continues to grow, with 94 percent of B2B marketers currently using ABM in their overall marketing. If you think about it, it makes sense with the parallel rise of content personalization strategy.
How content personalization fits into ABM
Content personalization is at the core of any successful ABM strategy. And they can be extremely successful:
- 97 percent of marketers who use ABM say it delivers a higher ROI than other marketing activities
- An ABM strategy can increase marketing revenue by 208 percent
ABM is a high-octane version of content personalization. It’s all about convincing your target customers that you’re the right solution. Everything you create, from ads to nurture emails to website content, speaks directly to your target audience. You want to prove to them that you’re not just another sales pitch. Instead, you want to customize your message to speak to their specific interests and pain points and demonstrate that you understand them.
One of ABM’s main benefits is the way it leverages content personalization across departments. Traditional marketing keeps sales and marketing in separate silos. Collaboration can happen, but it’s not the same as working together in the same room on a specific account. Instead of using a sales funnel designed to target a wide range of hundreds, even thousands of companies, ABM starts with a small, targeted list that ensures your content and outreach are highly relevant, personalized, and informed.
4 Content Personalization Strategies to Try Today
Not sure where to start your content personalization? Let’s break it down.
1. Start with segmentation
Rather than focusing on a single individual, segmenting your audience allows you to focus on small groups of individuals instead. Those marketers who focus on segmenting often find success. Studies report that 77 percent of email marketing ROI stems from segmented campaigns.
Despite this, many marketers are still not fully onboard the segmenting train. A recent study showed that over 40 percent of marketers don’t segment. And only 4 percent of marketers segment with multiple data types.
A few of the identifiers you can use to segment your priority audiences include:
While segmenting your marketing based on these items will prove to be more beneficial than not segmenting at all, there is a deeper level of segmentation that will help you connect with audiences: behavioral segmentation. Behavioral segmentation considers purchasing behavior, benefits sought, product usage, customer loyalty, and user status.
For example, if you were to focus on purchasing behavior, some of the things you would be able to learn about your audience in the decision process include:
- How your customers approach the decisions they make when completing a purchase
- How complex the purchasing process is for your customers
- Barriers your customers face along the purchasing path
- What customer behaviors are most indicative of leading to a purchase, and what behaviors are least indicative of leading to a purchase
If you’re not yet convinced that marketing segmentation is a meaningful content personalization strategy, consider the words of Brian K. McCarthy:
“When we look at a broad market full of all types of customers who want different things from us — or nothing at all — we need to break it down into smaller bites so we can be focused and meet the specific needs of each group of customers. So, if we can establish segment 1, segment 2, segment 3, and really understand what they need, we are now in a position to carefully choose which customers we will serve and meet and exceed their expectations.”
2. Personalize with personas
A buyer persona is a basic outline of common traits that individuals in your target audience share. A persona can be valuable to your content personalization, thanks to the fact that it helps you quickly understand in your own mind what the audience you are trying to reach is really like. If you don’t use personas in your marketing efforts, you’ll spend too much time guessing what your audience wants rather than knowing how to best serve them.
A good persona certainly contains demographic information, but it goes beyond that. The best marketers follow the necessary steps to outline and determine how to best construct a persona.
Some of these necessary steps include:
- Imagine the ideal buyer: Consider the demographic characteristics defining your ideal customer. Then, consider the individual’s job and title. How long has he been on the job? What are his areas of expertise? How does he relate to others in society or within the workplace?
- Consider specifics: Be specific to determine your persona’s responsibilities, objectives, and obstacles. Think about why your persona wakes up in the morning to go to work and what challenges they face once they get there.
- Examine day-in-the-life scenarios: Ask yourself questions about your persona’s role in influencing decisions within the company, who he needs to get buy-off from, what questions he will have before making a purchase, and what keywords he may search for as he seeks information.
- Determine personal communication preferences: How does your persona like to receive content and messages? Are there channels and platforms he uses more than others? How often does he use social media? Why? Does he gather most information while on the job or while at home?
- Align insights with goals: Now that you know infinitely more about the personas of those you want to reach, consider your strategic goals and how these new insights relate to those goals. Sketch an engagement scenario to visualize how you would like your persona to interact with your content.
3. Create customer-journey-based personalization
If you plan to take a road trip to an unfamiliar destination, one of the first things you do is type the destination address into your smartphone to get an understanding of how long the trip will take, determine which roads you need to travel on, and see which landmarks, hotels, and restaurants you may pass. Creating a customer journey map isn’t much different.
When you develop a customer journey map, you first should consider which audience you want to focus on. You then should consider the different stages of the journey for this audience to ensure you are providing the right types of content at landmark locations throughout an individual’s journey.
Creating a customer journey map may sound difficult, but HubSpot has outlined eight key considerations to assist you along the way.
- Set objectives for the map
- Profile your personas and define goals
- Highlight your target customer personas
- List targeted touchpoints
- Identify the elements you want shown on your map
- Audit your current and needed resources
- Take the journey yourself
- Make needed changes
Understand that there is no single way to develop a journey map. Likewise, different types of journey maps exist. Kerry Bodine, CEO of Kerry Bodine & Co. has identified four different types of customer journey maps:
Each journey map is designed to achieve different results. Read Kerry’s article above for a deeper dive into them. She does a great job fleshing them out.
4. Ideate to initiate individualization
Everything else discussed in this article indicates what marketers can do to personalize content with small groups of people. That is a good start, but true personalization starts to occur when you can get your content personalization down to a segment of one.
So, then, the question remains: how do you do this? Simply put, you need to individualize. Individualizing might seem time-consuming, but you can do several small things to help your audience feel known.
Some of the ways you can individualize include:
- Send your emails from a human — not a brand: Receiving an email from “XYZ Company” is not nearly as personal as receiving an email from “Sarah from XYZ Company.” People who receive messages from real people want to connect with real people.
- Use your customers’ names: This is an old trick, but it’s effective. People love to hear their own names. A study conducted by Michael Lewis and Dennis P. Carmody found that our brains will respond involuntarily when we hear our own names — even when people are in a vegetative state. If that’s true, then it would seem that continuing to address your customers in emails by their first names will always remain a good idea.
- Write individualized content: If you know a logged-in customer made it to a certain part of your site, but didn’t complete a transaction, consider developing an automated personalized response. A response like, “We notice you didn’t complete your purchase of ________. Here is a coupon for free shipping to your home in __________” could be seen as valuable to your customer because of the coupon. But tread lightly, as this sort of individualization could also annoy some users with the amount of personal data you have.
Time to Create Your Content
Once you’ve implemented these tactics, it’s time for the actual content creation. If you’re time and energy are drained from all the content personalization and ABM strategy work, you can always outsource your content to seasoned experts (like us). At ClearVoice, we can produce exactly what you need, when you need it. So you can focus on what matters.
Talk to one of our content strategists today to get started!