Over the last few years, marketers have become more conscious of the need to deliver personalized content experiences not only to existing customers but also to first-time site visitors as well. Using real-time behavioral data, businesses can enhance the user experience by delivering the content your customer wants to see when they are most likely to make a purchase.
According to Scott P. Abel of The Content Wrangler, personalization is the process of targeting content to individuals based on one or more of the following: who they are; where they are; when, why, and how they access content; and what device they use to access it.
The content your company produces ultimately becomes the face of your brand. In essence, your online content and the experience attached to it is the product. Personalizing your content might seem like a huge undertaking but with some simple tips, your customer will feel right at home with the experiences that you create just for them.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Customize Content By Audience Type
In my opinion, this is the low hanging fruit of personalization. Most, if not all, marketing and sales teams now work based on some vertical or industry that they are familiar with and organized by internally. Why not tailor your content to speak to this audience? Provide the value up front to your users so they know you’re familiar with their marketplace. Create content that includes news that is relevant to their industry.
Segmenting your users this way doesn’t require much logic or fancy tools. Including an “industry” form field within your experience will make it easy to segment users during lead nurturing.
2. Create Title Specific Experiences
I decided to break out title specific personalization because in most cases, it’s a different type of experience altogether. Think about it this way - the content you create for a CEO or CMO is a lot different than the content you would create for a Social Media Manager. CEOs and CMOs are interested in the bottom line while a Social Media Manager wants to know about tools and quick tricks to increase engagement. At ion interactive, we leverage personalization to speak to marketers at each level. From the new marketer to a seasoned modern marketer, we create specific content for their needs and industry knowledge. That being said, we also speak to those outside or closely related to marketing, such as the graphic designer or creative team who also have an influence on projects.
3. Customize Your Experiences Based On Device
We’ve all been on the site that wasn’t built to be responsive. The frustrating task of having to pinch to zoom and silently hoping that you zoom into the right area of the page. Why is this still a thing in 2016?
Modern marketers know that users will abandon a web experience if it is not optimized to their device. When you create experiences that accommodate different devices, you improve the usability of the experience and create a more personalized journey for the user.
Creating a responsive experience is important for many reasons. For example, on an iPhone screen big buttons are more effective than simple text links since users will not have to zoom to access them. On an iPad or tablet where the screen is larger you can get away with text links. We recently published a stackie for the MarTech Conference that features a device specific design. In this experience, the small details such as the iconography are treated differently as the screen size changes. You can view the experience here. #UX.
4. Optimize Content Based on Referral
If your user is coming from a social network such as Facebook, consider providing a different experience than users visiting from paid search or blog site.
To target a user by referral, you will need to include simple logic within your query string. This can be accomplished easily with tools like ion interactive and the creative studio. By personalizing the experience based on referral, you have the ability to create content that is more optimized based on user needs. For example, a user that found your experience from a paid search campaign was closer to converting than one who found you on a paid ad on Facebook. Users that are in the midst of a google search can be served with middle funnel content (think ebooks and white papers) about your brand while a social media user could benefit from something optimized for social like a quiz or infographic.
5. Use Behaviors to Determine the Next Step
This concept takes the age old segmentation microsite and breaks it down into micro actions. Instead of just A or B options, you’re asking your audience A, B, C, D, E and based on that question you are directing them to specific content.
There are many advantages to this approach. For example:
- You can understand where users are gravitating and hopefully use that for better conversations or out reaches.
- You're putting the audience in control of their destination by allowing them to select their path.
- Personalization can be shown at each level of the interaction by leveraging what you learned about the user in the previous action.
- Using this technique for personalization can lead to a deeper understanding of the user and their unique needs.
6. Progressive Profiling
Progressive profiling is great at capturing your users data in small steps as opposed to all at once via a large and intimidating form. Progressive profiling allows brands to ask their user to complete short forms over the course of multiple visits or pages of an experience. For example, a user may access a landing page to download an ebook. In order to download the ebook, they are asked to supply only three pieces of information, first and last name and an email address.
During the next visit, a simple form can be pre populated with data that was already collected when asking the user to complete additional fields such as phone number and job title.
This is a great way to slowly build a lead and personalize an experience as the user moves through the funnel, and increase your conversion rates in the process, since the form is less intimidating.
7. Product or Asset Recommendations
Amazon and a lot of other big retailers use this approach to recommend products or product groups based on previous purchases.
I am huge cookie lover and based on my previous purchases, Amazon knows that.
Both B2B and B2C marketers can leverage this feature when creating content for their users. For example an interactive infographic may include quiz questions amongst data points about specific topics. You could leverage the data from the quiz to offer assets such as white papers that would be most relevant to the user. This is a great way to increase conversions and showcase your expertise within a specific field.
8. Geo Recommendations
If you’re in a market with multiple locations, leveraging geo targeting provides users with a better experience. Geolocation is not just for apps or mobile devices, you can now find geo location on desktop sites and mobile site as well. All focused around making the user experience more valuable and personal.
9. Trigger emails
A large majority of modern marketers are using a marketing automation tool to send trigger emails to their users. Start with the basics such as including the users name and asset that they recently accessed. You could take it a step further and include recommendations based on the asset or topic that the user downloaded or showed interest in. This is where you really start to add value to the relationship.
10. Sell-Side For Sales Conversations
At ion interactive, we leverage a lot of the personalization practices listed in this blog post to help engage our users. One of our newest products, Sell-Side, offers members of a sales team an interactive timeline of the user's inputs within the experience.
So, how does Sell-Side work? Visitors to your site go through an interactive experience similar to this assessment. As you answer the questions within the assessment, backend logic gathers your results and populates them into a ‘Sell-Side’ experience that provides the sales team with user actions and responses to the assessment. The ion interactive sales team can use this information to have a better conversation that’s a little more personalized to the prospects needs.
I think we are over thinking personalization because we (marketers) know too much. As a consumer, I like being targeted with content relevant to my interests and needs. In a way, it makes me feel like the brands I love are looking out for me. That said, I am the kind of guy that activates notifications and GPS on my phone no matter where I am. I’m also the kind of marketer that believes in marketing karma and that’s why I speak to every sales rep that calls me. Don’t be afraid of personalization when it comes to receiving it or sending it to your potential customers. Personalization means that you care about your users needs, interests, and goal.
Personalizing the consumer experience has been brought to the forefront by an increasing amount of accessible customer data. It’s important for any marketer who wants to leverage this data to create more engaging online customer experiences.