This article is the fifth 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 discussed whether or not personalizing your content makes you "creepy." Now we're going to look at how to overcome content personalization hurdles so you can increase your ROI.
At this point, we're halfway through our exploration of content personalization. While some customers still find it creepy (and some marketers take the personalization too far), content personalization does work. You just need to be strategic about how you implement it. And when you are, you can anticipate increased return on investment.
In the 2017 report "Profit from Personalization" from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), they report that companies that create personalized experiences for their customers—and not only create them, but create them well—can anticipate a 6% to 10% revenue increase two to three times faster than companies that do not. You would think that, with such promising results, all companies would immediately hop on board. But BCG reports that only 35% of companies use some type of personalization tactic, and 20% of that number is made up of companies that use one-to-one companies.
Why is the number so low?
There is not a single cause to the issue but several, and even one of these causes is enough for many companies to back away from personalization:
You may find that your company falls victim to more than one of these hurdles (or another one not listed, such as lack of a clear direction when it comes to a content personalization strategy or a resistant company culture). But even one is enough to keep companies at bay, preventing them from venturing into the lucrative world of personalization.
Let’s explore each hurdle in turn. Do any of the following sound like an issue your company has faced—or is currently facing?
The Hurdle: Issue in Sizing to Scale
Picture the following scene in your mind: You’re standing in the middle of a dirt road that, whether you look to your left or right, appears endless. There are dirt paths on both sides of the road, equally spaced. They each have a sign with a number or some signifier that identifies its uniqueness from the other paths. These paths represent all the potential avenues that you have to interact with a company. Now imagine that some of the roads are paved. These paved roads represent the avenues that a company was able to personalize; the remaining dirt paths were untouched due to lack of resources, lack of knowledge, or some other issue.
One of the challenges with personalization is that it is difficult to personalize every avenue, product line, segment, or marketing channel that connects you to your customers. Do you focus on trying to do some really well and ignore the rest? Or do you try and get them all (quite a feat) and do the bare minimum for each? The answer is neither, but what else can be done? More on that later.
The Solution: Don’t try to go for possible personalization avenue. Instead, rely on behavioral data and other collected analytics to find out what route is valuable. And if you see that both have value, weigh them to see what is more valuable in terms of your goals. (It’s like finding two mines, one full of gold and one full of diamonds. They’re both worth something, but which makes more sense for you to spend time excavating?)
Using this behavioral data will give you insight into the potential of possible personalization avenues. Once you’ve determined which avenue is most valuable to you in terms of your goals, you can then start to plan your reactions to customer signals. Different signals will present the customer with a different, predetermined “trigger message.” Essentially, instead of stopping the interaction with the first act of personalization, you continue to engage with the customer, creating a personalized buying journey (or whatever it may be).
The Issue: Lack of Resources
We don’t all work for companies that commit a lot of money to its marketing budget. Or if we do, we don’t have the right people to implement personalization. Many of us may not even have a proper marketing department--just a “team” of two or three people expected to do everything from creating advertisements to managing the brand to interacting with the media, as applicable (and we all know that many of these responsibilities do not fall under marketing; sometimes, you’re asked to be a marketer and a graphic designer, public relations specialist, corporate communications manager, and more).
Whether it’s finances or people, not having even one of these at your disposal means that you can’t even begin to consider personalization. It’s just not in your line of sight, and the fact that it’s so unattainable means it would be a waste of your time to even consider it.
The Solution: At this point, you have two options: 1) Find a way to get the resources you need to personalize or 2) drop the idea of personalization altogether. The second option isn’t ideal, and if you truly believe that personalization is to your benefit (hint: it is), then you need to come up with a plan to make it happen. This plan will be different depending on your respective resources, and it could look like one of the following:
You need to reorganize your budget: There may be ways you can reorganize the budget that you already have. Where can you cut unnecessary costs? How can you use your budget more effectively? When you start to take a closer look at your budget, you may be surprised what you find.
You need to request a bigger budget: Sometimes, you may not be able to make your budget work if you are already using it as effectively as possible. That's when it's time to ask for a budget increase. As part of your budget increase proposal, you should include the following:
The Issue: No Personalization Knowledge/Skills
Have you ever asked someone to open up a jar for you because they were stronger than you or knew some special trick to make it pop off with ease? You could spend time trying to “loosen” it up until it finally comes undone. You can try and look up tips and tricks for opening jars. Or you could just give it to the person you know will have no issues and politely ask, “Can you open this jar for me?”
Personalization is one of those aspects of marketing that could be someone’s sole job (and for many out there, it is). If you don’t know how, you could try taking a course and watching webinars. But that takes time and effort and finances that you and/or your company may not have or may not be willing to contribute. You could just “wing it”, but when it comes to personalization, it’s better to not personalize than to botch it.
The Solution(s): Assuming that you have the budget to do so, you could hire someone as part of your team to create a personalization strategy for your company and then maintain and modify as necessary. But if that’s not possible, you can look into hiring a third-party company to help you manage these personalization efforts. If the monthly retainer is too much, consider hiring a knowledgeable firm to assist you in creating a personalization strategy; you’ll be responsible for the upkeep thereafter, but it’s a one-time fee. Make sure that the agreed upon scope includes, at a minimum, an introductory/educational course on personalization so that you won’t be completely baffled when the firm is finished with the contracted work.
Ready, Set, Personalize
There will always be something to keep you from trying something new: It's too hard, I won't be good at it, it's too this, it's too that. But the fact that nearly 65% of companies purposely pass up on a potential 10% revenue increase in less time than competitors blows our mind. It was almost too difficult to write.
You won't see any ROI if you don't try.
Take some time to evaluate your current situation, strategy, etc. and identify what is holding you back. Is it resources? Knowledge? Is it you? Then, make a plan to overcome them (Note: While we included solutions for some hurdles above, we understand that each company is unique, and the solution that works for you for a particular hurdle may not work for others).
Once you do, increased ROI is within your sights! And don't worry—we'll provide some examples of how to do so in our upcoming articles.
Learn more about Content Marketing, Content Intelligence, Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence on our blog.
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