Personalized marketing is more relevant, more targeted, and better perceived. That is not only what common sense tells us, but also supported by figures and statistics from many analysts and surveys. What are some examples? Check out the “Five Key Trends in Gartner’s 2015 Digital Marketing Hype Cycle” or the “15 Mind-Blowing Stats About Personalization”.
Most of us have already had some sort of experience with personalized marketing. There are different use cases with varying degrees of complexity determining how the content of a marketing campaign can be tailored for every individual recipient. The most common scenarios are:
The most simple use case is certainly to have a field merge included in your marketing content. This could be the subject line of an email, a text element within an email, or the salutation on a landing page. Typical examples of field merges for personalized marketing are:
Field merges are simple and easy to implement but require 100% data completeness and accuracy.
The next level of personalized marketing is dynamic content. In this case, it is not only one word that gets individualized, but an entire content block. In addition to text elements, dynamic content can be programmed to personalize images, links, buttons, and calls-to-action. The personalization of dynamic content is based on rules which are configured in advance, including a default rule for those cases where the other rules will not match. A very simple example in reference to the field merge “Dear [FirstName]” could be to only show this salutation “IF [FirstName] contains at least 2 characters”, otherwise show “Dear Customer”. You can increase the complexity of dynamic content by building more rules and adding more criteria to each rule.
In order to push the personalized marketing experience even further, you will most likely introduce personas to your content marketing strategy. Personas are virtual characters that you want to target with your marketing content. There are different approaches to how personas can be designed. Among the most popular are personas that you will meet in the course of the sales cycle. For example “The Marketing Manager”, “The Sales Director”, “The IT Guy”, “The Sponsor”, etc.
The positive aspect about personas and persona-tailored content is that it’s far more effective in comparison to using some standard content for everything and everybody. The negative aspect is that persona-driven content marketing will exponentially multiply your content production with every persona you add to your marketing concept.
While personas are a big step ahead in delivering highly personalized content, the other relevant component for an individualized marketing experience is the usage of the right content at the right time. Referring to the sales cycle again, you should target your content offering not only to a specific persona but additionally consider the buying stage of contacts you are marketing to.
There are again different ways to determine which stage a customer is in. You can use specific questions on forms, such that you learn more about the current stage with every download that a contact makes. The more complex, yet more interesting approach is to combine all sorts of behavioral data and to use lead scoring in order to determine the right campaign stage.
Adding the campaign stage dimension to your content marketing mix will require more content, of course. If you decide to have 3 personas and 3 buying stages, you will need at least 9 pieces of content. Every new persona or every additional buying stage will require more content. It is important to keep that in mind because personalized marketing at this level comes at a cost. The gains (i.e. improved conversion rates and a better marketing experience) are worth it!
In all the content examples described above, there is one common pattern: no matter if you design your content per persona, per buying stage, or both, the content as such is static and forces you to create content for each scenario. Once created or printed, there are no more variations of that content, until you decide to make yet another paper for the next persona.
The new era in content marketing is hence to make content, like PDF or printed content, fully dynamic, or, as we call it: hyper-personalized. Imagine you are using field merges like you do in emails, but now you are using them for creating a hyper-personalized PDF, or printed document, exactly at the time when a contact requests this particular document. It can be as simple as your checklist, “How to prepare for the digital transformation”, carrying the company name in the title, e.g. “How to prepare [CompanyName] for the digital transformation”.
Using specific rules can result in all sorts of variations with regard to text elements, images, charts, statistics, quotes, etc. You are using real-time information at exactly the time when your content is requested in order to hyper-personalize it. Another advantage is that your content will be always in the most recent layout, style, and branding, since all you need to do is to update the layout template in the background, while the actual content will be produced upon a download request.
Ultimately we can think of a lot of possibilities where you can hyper-personalize your content. Basically at every occasion when you are processing data and the outcome is a PDF, image, or printed document that you would like to deliver instantly to a lead or contact, personalization can be implemented.
Some more specific examples for hyper-personalized content are:
With these use cases in hand, step out in confidence and start hyper-personalizing your content today. If you'd like a tool to help you along the way, download The Personalization Playbook.
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