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Content Personalization: What Is It?

Are customers finding relevant content when they search for your business? Personalized content can help improve your customer's experience.

Are customers finding relevant, informative content when they search for your business or visit your website?

How do you create a more seamless experience devoid of friction from the start of the sales journey?

Creating meaningful experiences through personalized content is a great place to start.

If you’re not consistently testing, analyzing, and refining your customer experience strategy, you risk losing your current and potential customer base.

One of the most integral components of the customer experience is content marketing.

Yet, many content marketers neglect to create relevant and useful content, instead focusing on how the content benefits their business rather than the customer.

In this post, we’ll explore what exactly personalized content is, how it benefits the end user, examples of personalization, and how to create a successful content personalization strategy.

Let’s get started.

What Is Personalized Content?

Customers crave personalization in every aspect of life – from their shopping preferences to the types of food they eat and the home decor styles they desire.

They are more likely to spend their time and money on products and services that align with their preferences, wants, and needs.

For example, say you’re shopping for black winter boots on a retailer’s website and view multiple product pages featuring different boots, but don’t actually purchase anything.

When you exit the page, you’re later sent a promotional email for 20% off the retailer’s winter jackets.

In this instance, you might ignore the retailer’s email and even unsubscribe entirely from its email list, as you are being served irrelevant content.

This example halts the user’s journey rather than moving them further down the sales funnel.

It would have been a more worthwhile strategy to deliver engaging content based on the customer’s predetermined shopping preferences and the items they are actually looking for.

The Case For Building A Content Personalization Strategy

Content personalization strategy entails leveraging online consumer data insights to deliver relevant content.

By consistently monitoring and analyzing this data, brands can, in turn, better understand their end users’ interests and motivations.

Surfacing relevant and timely information improves the online user experience, leading to higher conversions and sales.

Research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience, furthering the need for a personalized content marketing strategy.

The results of content personalization are tangible for businesses too.

Ninety-seven percent of marketers report a measurable lift from their personalization efforts.

Additionally, a separate study found that 51% of retailers with an end-to-end personalization strategy earned 300% ROI or more.

Knowing personalization can improve conversion rates, how can content marketers improve this effort? We’ll explore that next.

How Can I Personalize My Content?

Creating individualized content sounds ideal in theory, but how can your business effectively take on this endeavor?

As a savvy marketer, you should understand the demographic factors and ideal target personas that make up your audience.

Your audience probably has different wants and needs.

Thinking back to the previous winter boots example and applying it to your audience, different members of your audience likely have varying budgets, style preferences, and uses for the boots.

This is where audience segmentation comes into play.

Whether your business uses Google Analytics, another web analytics service, or a personalization software solution, you can break down your audience segments into groups.

By breaking down your audience segments and behaviors, you will better understand the types of content each group will engage with most and what will resonate best.

These user behaviors insights include:

Generally, four methods can be used for audience segmentation, which we will explain further below.

Demographic Personalization

Demographic personalization entails segmenting your audience based on their demographic makeup and other behavioral factors. This may include targeting a customer based on their:

  • Age.
  • Geography.
  • Language.
  • Gender.
  • Job title.
  • Devices used.
  • Browser.
  • Screen resolution.
  • Device category (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.).
  • And more.

Demographic personalization can help provide more relevant information, but it shouldn’t be the only way your business segments your audience.

Persona-Based Personalization

Every business should have a strong understanding of its ideal buyer persona – from what your target customer looks like to how they shop, work, and behave.

Persona-based personalization goes a level deeper than just understanding your audience’s demographics.

It entails understanding purchase drivers, pain points and challenges, and the user’s role in the purchasing decision.

For more complex purchases, there are likely several key personas you’ll want to develop content for.

Personalizing content to each key decision-maker allows you to connect with a wider audience of stakeholders and address their concerns more effectively.

For example, a chief financial offer (CFO) may want to learn how you can solve their problems for less. A manager may focus on ease of use, training, and implementation.

Each persona will have a different pain point. It’s up to your business to explain how you can solve these diverse pain points for each stakeholder.

To obtain this deeper level of information, ask your customers to fill out a brief online survey post-purchase.

Keep the online survey short; each question asked should have a purpose for evaluating either the customer or your business.

You can also build customer profiles through your email marketing efforts. Ask your customers to opt into your emails during your checkout process.

Allow customers to select their email preferences, from the type of content they want to receive from your business to the frequency of emails they’d like to receive from you.

These insights will help you discern the types of content your customers want to receive from you.

Buyer-Journey Personalization

Delivering content based on where users are in the sales funnel is crucial.

For example, if a customer found your business through search, they’re likely in the awareness stage and comparing you to competitors.

They’re seeking more information to help guide their purchase decision at this stage.

A business may benefit from sharing content in the form of a blog post, video, or social content in the awareness stage.

If a customer already has made previous purchases with you, they’ll want more personalized content.

In the previous retailer example, if the customer bought black boots from you before, perhaps they’ll be enticed to purchase from you again with a 15% off SMS message.

When your digital marketing team creates compelling content that anticipates and matches the buyer’s interest and stage of the sales journey, you increase the chances of conversion and drive more qualified leads.

Content insights will also enable digital marketers and sales teams to better understand what content is most impactful, so you can better tailor your content calendar and frame your sales approach when it is time to connect.

Individual-Specific Personalization

The three aforementioned approaches to personalized content will help elevate your personalization strategy. However, you’re still crafting marketing content for a larger target audience.

Customers want to feel like more than just a number.

An Adobe survey found that 42% of consumers say seeing personalized content from a business is somewhat or very important. In the same survey, 35% of consumers stated personalized experiences improve their perception of the business.

It’s clear consumers no longer accept one-size-fits-all content experiences.

Segmenting individual consumers may seem an arduous task to accomplish manually, which is why businesses rely primarily on machine learning and AI technology to accomplish this task.

Through machine and AI learning, content is delivered using first- and third-party data to best serve the consumer’s needs.

This type of customization ensures the consumer is only presented with digital content that is relevant to them. This may look like special offers, dedicated landing pages, specific product recommendations, personal emails, and more.

What Are A Few Examples Of Content Personalization?

Many of the largest, most recognizable industry innovators shape their user experiences around personalization.

Netflix is a common household name and a well-known service to many.

As Netflix shares, personalization plays a large role in its mission.

“Personalized recommendations on the Netflix Homepage are based on a user’s viewing habits and the behavior of similar users. These recommendations, organized for efficient browsing, enable users to discover the next great video to watch and enjoy without additional input or an explicit expression of their intents or goals.”

Google Discover is yet another tool that relies heavily on personalization and curates a feed of content based on a user’s previous searches.

Content that surfaces is unique to the individual and what Google’s automated systems believe to be a good match for the individual’s interests.

For example, if you often search for sports scores or the odds of your favorite football team winning its next game, you’ll likely have a feed filled with sports-related content.

Both of these companies utilize complex machine learning and algorithms to drive their personalization efforts.

While most businesses can’t execute their personalization strategies at the same level as Netflix or Google, personalization solutions can help bridge this gap.

Personalization Isn’t Going Anywhere

The demand for personalization is on the rise, and more marketers are recognizing the benefit of focusing their efforts on improving their customer’s experience.

Netflix, Spotify, Google, Nike, Amazon, and more large companies are prime examples of businesses that excel at personalizing content. Other businesses are on board, too.

A third of organizations are already spending more than half their marketing budget on personalizing digital content. And 97% of organizations plan to maintain or increase their personalization budget over the next five years.

Meet customers’ needs, discontinue broad-based content, and develop or ramp up your content personalization efforts to improve your customer experience (and your ROI).

More resources:

Featured Image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Ryan Weber

As the Director of Client Success at Rio SEO, Ryan Weber oversees the local marketing success of global enterprise brands ...

Content Personalization: What Is It?

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