Article

Sylvia Jensen
Sylvia Jensen 12 June 2015
Categories Content

To Personalise Or Not To Personalise: A Content Marketers Dilemma

Personalisation isn't all-or-nothing. Between mass appeal and one-to-one customisation, there's a profitable middle way.

Personalisation isn’t all-or-nothing. Between mass appeal and one-to-one customisation, there’s a profitable middle way.

To personalise or not?

 

 

No question: for almost all one-to-one communication, you should personalise. But there are differences in degree.

 

Imagine the resources involved in reaching these levels of personalisation:

  • Turning Dear Sir into Dear Mr Smith.
  • Starting a letter to Robert with Hi, Bob!
  • Using the headline Oil hits $67.31 in a landing page.
  • Using a price chart to decide between Hedge for the downswing! orLock in your future contracts! as your subhead.
  • Using financial results from annual reports to generate content likeYou’re 5% ahead on margins but 4th in growth in your sector - personalised to each individual’s company.

 

The first takes little effort - indeed, it’s been done for decades. But the last takes big data, expert knowledge and a critical eye. That’s the first clue to deciding your approach: balance expected ROI with the resources you have to deliver it.

 

Mass customisation: plenty of personalisation for little effort

 

Mass customisation - the first level - is deaf and blind. Knowing a customer’s name and title tells you nothing about their hopes, fears and dreams. But other things being equal, Dear Mr Smith works better thanDear Marketing Manager. (It’s what built a global business for direct marketing pioneer American Express.)

 

It’s cost effective, accurate, and it helps. Use mass customisation if your audience is broad, if you’re selling products and services with mass appeal, or if your profit-per-sale is low.

 

Extreme personalisation: taking it up a notch

 

Today we can take it up a level to extreme personalisation, where what you say depends on the recipient’s detailed buyer persona.

 

For instance, if you’ve got ten industry sectors to engage with, you might substitute a case study in your content with a choice of different ones. Which one your reader sees depends on the company’s SIC code. It makes your content feel closer to home, meaning readership increases.

 

Small touches like these increase response rates at the cost of a moderate increase in resource. (You’ll have to create 3-8 times as much content, but it can turn one piece of core content into 100.) Use extreme personalisation if you’re marketing a high-value product or service to a relatively small and targeted audience.

 

Dynamic content: getting inside your audience’s heads

 

The highest level of personalisation (like the last two bullets on our list above) might be termed dynamic content. It’s where content isn’t just merged in, but is created according to outside criteria chosen for ultimate engagement potential - such as news events pertinent to the reader’s business.

 

Truly dynamic content is complex to plan and hard to orchestrate (imagine making any ten paragraphs from a set of a hundred fit together smoothly and readably)! Only expert marketers can do it. If you’re selling a high-value product to a limited audience - say, your sales plan needs 20 sales a year and there are only 200 companies in your universe - it’s worth the extra resource.

 

Go for extreme personalisation for the biggest bang-per-buck

 

Most marketers should choose extreme personalisation to provide the customer experience. You create a single piece of content, but the “pointy bits” - case studies, facts and figures, heads and subheads - are personalised for each buyer persona from a small set of content choices.

 

Remember:

  • Mass customisation adds basic personalisation at low cost.
  • Extreme personalisation replaces some sections of the core content with content specific to the reader’s sector or situation.
  • Dynamic content makes every communication deeply individual, but takes a lot of resource.
  • Most marketers should go for extreme personalisation for the best bang-per-buck.

 

Discover more marketing tips in the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing.

 

  

Author: Sylvia Jensen, senior director of EMEA Marketing at Oracle Marketing Cloud.

 

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

What's the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and why does it matter? The answers may surprise you.

Julie Cave
Julie Cave 14 July 2016
Read more
3 Social Media Trends to Follow in 2018

3 Social Media Trends to Follow in 2018

Discover three big trends that will have the impact on social media in 2018 - from ephemeral content, to influencer marketing and augmented reality.

John Siebert
John Siebert 15 November 2017
Read more
4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

It goes without saying that a company can't do without digital marketing in today's world.

Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 5 November 2014
Read more
Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Although the trend of a Business to Business portal is not new but the evolution of technology has indeed changed the way they function. Additional digital trading features and branding has taken the place of traditional outreach methods to get in touch with targeted buyers or sellers.Here are some of the best and fastest growing global B2B platforms that are helping thousands of businesses in the world to grow and reach their international and local clients.

Salman Sharif
Salman Sharif 7 July 2017
Read more
Collection Of The Best Email Testing Tools Online

Collection Of The Best Email Testing Tools Online

Don’t be afraid of email testing. There are many free or freemium tools online that can help you with testing your SPAM score, deliverability and even the rendering of your email. We feature 30 email testing tools in this article. Check out the complete list!

Roland Pokornyik
Roland Pokornyik 31 October 2016
Read more