Article

Eli Mandelbaum
Eli Mandelbaum 6 May 2016

How Content Personalization Can Work For Your ROI

The Internet has come full circle. Users have gone from complete anonymity to complete exposure and now many hope to slip back into the shadows.

While it may not be possible for users to become completely anonymous, this shift undoubtedly poses a threat to marketers. Content personalization could be the compromise marketers and consumers are looking for, but as we discussed in our recent roundtable, it’s easier said than done.

PluggedIn BD assembled experts from various industries and asked them to share their thoughts on the benefits, challenges, and strategies associated with content personalization. Here are four takeaways from our panel discussion.

1. Personalization could be the antidote to anonymity.

Marketers are facing a new reality where the idea that, as Tim Flattery of MEC put it, “anonymity is the new black” is becoming a quickly growing trend. Consumers are faced with the choice of blocking advertisements completely or being inundated with countless, impersonal and irrelevant advertisements every day. Personalized content, may just be the right solution — if it’s authentic.

Consumers are more inclined to interact with content when it is relevant to their lifestyle, so why are less than three percent of emails personalized? There are several challenges in this. Firstly, finding the line that separates authenticity from what many of our panelists referred to as “the creep factor,” is a difficult task. Secondly, for many marketers, personalization poses a certain risk — they would rather play it safe than make the mistake of targeting consumers with the wrongpersonalized message.

Challenges aside, a personalized content strategy where messaging is focused on what the consumer wants to see could mean all of the difference in today’s digital age. But, in order to do this, there must be data.

2. Collect whatever data you can.

Consumer data, even in its most simplistic form, is essential for content personalization. Today, there are firms that can tie as many as 450 data points to one unique email address — of course most of marketers don’t have access to such robust data. The point is, even basic information like gender and location can be used to create personalized content and if the information you have is limited, it isn’t too late to start asking questions to find out more about your audience.

As data is collected, we have to decide which data to use and how to leverage it. As our panelists pointed out, “the science has caught up with the art.” The idea of collecting information about a consumer and reaching them with a personalized message quickly has always been there, but now it is actually possible. The key is managing this information in an efficient way and developing a strategy — neither of which will happen without testing.

3. Testing and segmentation are key.

Invest in a platform that will help you create segments within your audience. Sending out the same information tailored slightly to specific audiences, will help you understand what consumers respond to, as well as what they don’t. This can even be broken down into traditional A/B testing with random groups of people.

Some other simple questions to consider:

  • When did they become a client?
  • Do they open your emails or not?
  • Have they made a purchase or not?

4. Always consider environmental factors.

Consumers are engaging with content in many different settings, on many different devices — important factors to consider in a personalized content strategy. For instance, messaging created to reach someone on a desktop may not resonate as well with someone accessing it on a tablet. Part of our job as marketers is to understand where consumers are in a lifecycle journey — from initial stages of awareness and consideration to regular purchasing and interaction. Considering and accounting for these factors, will inevitably prevent a few headaches along the way.

There is no denying the benefits of content personalization. The challenge lies in gathering and connecting the data to create that content and making sure it is relevant and authentic. It is no easy task, but when done right, it can be immensely beneficial to both marketers and consumers (whether they realize it or not).

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