It may one day be possible to provide a personalized experience for everyone who encounters your content – and for some marketing tasks, like customizing subject lines and CTOs, that day will come sooner than for others. However, unless your users are logged in and generating unique metadata while navigating your service, it otherwise remains an impossible task for most content creators – today, at least.
But don’t be put off providing the most personalized experience possible. Content is only engaging when it directly addresses what your audience wants, fears or needs answers to: in short, effective content is content that engages. Everything else is noise.
Defining what those desires, fears and questions are is easier if you’re using content intelligence tools, first to define audience personas and then to ideate content to match. Personas are stand-ins for the unique profiles it may one day be possible to construct, and while brands need to make their personas specific, they must be careful not to devise too many at once. Ideally, aim to draw up four distinct personas, going beyond common demographics to incorporate factors like tastes, family composition, the kind of content they’ve reacted to before, and where they’ll encounter your brand. Using this level of detail to create more than four personas risks fragmenting your message as you try to satisfy too many competing interests.
The creation process
The process is best broken down into distinct parts. The good news is that you’ve almost certainly completed part one already: defining your funnel. Content creation costs time and money, both of which are wasted if it’s done without a goal in mind. This could be to increase sign-ups, generate leads or sell a product or service but, whatever applies to any brand, it’s essential that stakeholders ask themselves at each stage of the process how it will push the audience towards the funnel’s narrowest end.
Begin with an audit of your audience data and, once you’ve identified gaps, ask how you can fill them. Do you need to commission specific research, or do you have access to physical in-store beacons, purchasing data, or even, at the most basic level, cookies that can deliver the data you require?
Compare the results to the contents of your editorial plan and, if the correlations are sparse, don’t be afraid to rewrite the plan from scratch. Ideating fresh ideas has traditionally been one of the most demanding processes in any content creator’s job, but excellence here is what differentiates the most successful brands from also-rans. Here, tools like Concured’s Brief Builder can help, guiding commissioning editors or in-house marketing teams through the process of keyword analysis and curating links, which can be used for research or traffic building.
Some ideas, while good, may not be relevant today – but these will still be worth saving. When combined with complementary content, they could form a broader, themed campaign or tie in with a specific date or anniversary. Could these pieces be written in such a way that they form the basis of an ebook or white paper, only released in exchange for a newsletter sign-up or sales enquiry?
Iteration based on feedback
Sign-ups and enquiries are quantifiable, and so are sales and traffic, but these are just the most obvious metrics you need to be measuring. Competitor benchmarking for share of voice, how well you’re performing for your targeted keywords and the point at which visitors fall out of your funnel or abandon a shopping cart are equally important.
Even failures like these are valuable data points, which act as a guide to areas requiring improvement, steps that could be removed and subject matter that’s going stale. Armed with this knowledge, you have valuable insights that you can act on directly, without requiring further research or scratching around for subjects and treatments.
Capture and analyze
The whole process, from defining your funnel and personas to ideating and producing content relies on big data. The more data you have at your disposal, the better, and don’t worry if it’s not fully structured. Artificial intelligence can mine seemingly formless data lakes to identify the kind of patterns that wouldn’t be obvious if done by hand.
Take every opportunity that presents itself to capture data, but don’t be tempted to hang on to data that’s past its 'best-before' date. Your audience is evolving all the time, and so are their interests. If you want to save time when creating content to match, keeping that data source clean and streamlined is essential.