This article is the second in our series of posts focusing on content personalization: What is it, what are the benefits, and how can you implement it into your current marketing strategy? In our previous article, we did an overview of what content personalization is. Now we are going to look at how it has changed digital marketing.
It has been a good run, but it is time to accept that it is over: After dumping money into your car, the final straw was the AC conking out. It's time to get a new one.
You research, find one that is in your budget and has great consumer and safety ratings. But you don't want any random one off the lot: You want one with premium features like leather seats and a sun roof. Plus, you saw that there was an option for a deep ivy green color, and you knew you had to get your car in that color. You personalized it to your preferences. There wasn't any car on the dealer's lot that was customized the way you wanted, so you went online to the manufacturer's website and designed your own.
Your website is like the car lot: You have so many options to offer. But unlike that car lot, you need to make sure your audience doesn't leave empty-handed, turning to someone else to get the content they need. And to ensure they don't go elsewhere, you need to employ content personalization.
What is Content Personalization?
You may not realize it, but content personalization is everywhere. It's the "Because you watched…" section of any video, TV, and/or movie streaming platform. It's the "Users who bought this also bought…" product suggesting other items you may want to purchase.
Content personalization is tailoring the content you have to your audience based on the information you have about them. Doing so is great for a lot of reasons, including:
- Keeping the visitor on your website longer (and encouraging them to check out more of your content)
- Connecting with the customer (they will feel more positively about your website if they find content they like)
- Encouraging return visits (if you liked it the first time, you’ll want to go back for seconds!)
- Increasing product purchases through recommendations
And so many more.
It's like bringing flowers to your first date: You know she is fond of lilacs. Instead of getting her any random bouquet from the store, you look for one that has lilacs in it (or have one created for you). She’ll be excited, and you’ve already started the date off on the right foot!
How Does it Work?
Content personalization works by looking at all the data available and comparing it to a set of variables that you have predetermined.
This personal data is provided from a variety of sources. For example, the accessing computer provides the website with various information, such as location. And other pieces of information like what you’ve searched, what ads you’ve click on, products that you’ve purchased, and more can be found in your browser or cookie history. The variables can include any of the following information:
- Date: Time (AM or PM) and date (including the day of the week)
- Location: Country, city, and region
- Device: Desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux) or Mobile (tablet or smartphone, and what operating system [Apple, Android, etc])
- Gender: male, female, choose not to disclose, etcetera
- Age (You can group into generational categories)
- Referring URL: From what website (social media, news site, other) did they arrive?
- Frequency of Visits: How often the user has visited your site.
- Session Behavior During Visits: What does the user do on your site?
- Navigation clicks, page views, watching videos, and so on.
- History of Purchases: What, if anything, the user has purchased before and how much it cost.
These are just some of the potential variables, but there are others—such as what keywords they used in their query—and endless ways to personalize, really getting down to the core of what people want to see. The results could look something like this:
- User 1 + United States + Nevada + Windows + Google = Landing Page for Nevada
- User 2 + United States + Maine + Mac + Safari = Maine Landing Page
- User 3 + France + Windows + Bing = Standard Landing Page
Based on the information given, you can guide users to a page curated specifically for them and who they are. This ability to personalize pages has made a lot of changes in digital marketing.
How Content Personalization Changed Digital Marketing
“Oh, that’s cool!” or “Hey, check this out!” and “Wait, I need that in my life.” are likely thoughts that run through your mind as you’ve mindlessly browsed Amazon, looked for a top in your size on your favorite store’s website, or scrolled through your Facebook feed. It’s made an impact on both consumers and marketers alike.
First, consumers. They’ll be led to products, news stories, destinations, and more based on their previous Internet interaction. Because there is an overwhelming amount of information, products for sale, and cat videos floating around, it can be difficult to find what you need. It’s changed how we’ve interacted with the online space. It’s added a topic of humor to our lives (“I’m so glad I saw an ad on Facebook for the product I want that I never Googled or told another soul about in my life.”). In general, we find things quicker, and we don’t waste our time digging through content that isn’t relevant to us.
And for digital marketers, it has been a whirlwind of change. We have come a long way since the birth of the Internet and its growth into what we know it now. From suggested ads that target users based on demographics (age, gender, location, interests, previous purchase history) to creating landing pages for specific regions in which a company does business, marketers are able to target consumers better than before.
Personalization isn’t going anywhere. While many people are still not used to it and may think it’s a bit “creepy,” it has shaped the way we interact with companies in the digital space.
Content Personalization All Around
While we made a lot of references to eCommerce and product sales, content personalization is for everyone:
- B2B companies can better market to their consumers and direct them to products they are more willing to buy or services that they need.
- B2B companies are able to connect with other companies that require their services; personalized content can show that your company understands them.
- Companies that offer services, such as beauty (hair cuts, manicures), cleaning services (residential, businesses), financial advice, and more can direct customers to the services they need at the location nearest to them
- Companies that sell products can suggest products based on previously purchased items or items that are similar to what they’re looking for
- Websites that create content, such as personal blogs or news websites, can lead users to content that is the most interesting to them
How to Personalize Your Website
Content personalization is only going to get even more specific as technology changes and introduces more options for us to personalize. If you have yet to implement some type of personalization onto your website, now is the time.
- Think of Your Company. The first step is to think about your company, what you have to offer, and your audience. This information will help you create content specific to your audience and establish variables that lead your audience to such content.
- Create the Content. You’ll want to start thinking of content specific to the different groups of your audience, as applicable. Does region or location make a difference for them? For example, if you offer cleaning services across the nation, you could just have a generic landing page. But if you have a landing page specific to your customer, you have a better chance of connecting with them and getting their business. A landing page for someone in California might start off with, “You could spend time cleaning your house, but that means less time walking around Long Beach.”
- Establish Your Variables. As we mentioned, there are endless options and combinations that you can use. But note that you won't always get all the information that you may include as a variable. Therefore, start with variables that you know you are more than likely to get such as operating system and location. You can refine from there.
Making Content Personal
One day, we may log online and see an ad that says, "Hey _____! Here are those Reeboks you posted on Facebook about wanting in the coral color—and yes, we have them in your size!"
Those days, if they ever do come, are still a ways off. For now, content personalization is more about customizing the user experience and presenting them with content that creates a more intimate connection. It won't be perfect or even overly (eerily) specific, but we promise that a little goes a long way.
As you see more of the types of data you are able to receive about your customers, you can start to refine your variables and improve the type of content that is suggested.