Article

Kresten Bergsøe
Kresten Bergsøe 26 May 2016

The End Game for Content Marketing Is Personalization, but Very Few Get It...

All recognize personalization is important - but relatively few are really engaged. There is a massive lack of understanding of personalization and how you create personalized content.

Resources are wasted on content marketing misaligned with business objectives. Most still confuse personalization with targeting segments/personas. Most content created is static and focus is on targeting the right audience (segment) rather than building dynamic content for the individual.

A new report by Forbes Insights, in association with PwC, triggered a couple of increasingly familiar conclusions to me about content marketing and personalization:

  • All recognize personalization is important - but relatively few are really engaged.
  • There is a massive lack of understanding of personalization and how you create personalized content.
  • Resources are wasted on content marketing misaligned with business objectives.
  • Most still confuse personalization with targeting segments/personas.
  • Most content created is static and focus is on targeting the right audience (segment) rather than building dynamic content for the individual.

Many companies do content marketing but lack a content strategy. Mostly that means pushing content creation into the marketing department with no strategy to build on. They may produce content but it’s rarely personalized, nor is it integrated with business objectives or aligned with the stages of the sales process.

What company type are you?

92% recognize the value of delivering personalized content, and measuring content effectiveness. 8% do not.

25% of the 92%, consider personalized content critical to their marketing strategy, they have executive support and expect to ramp up content investments by +25%. Forbes Insights call them Trailblazers.

67% recognize the value of personalized content and measuring effectiveness - however they do not rank it as business critical, they do not have serious executive support and only expect to increase investments slightly over the next year. 

Majority is not really engaged - and will likely not succeed

While the majority of respondents (59%) personalize content by the broadest means, target audience, Trailblazers, are more likely to be more precise. They are able to identify, in very specific terms, the customer being addressed,
gathering data about that individual, translating the data, and ultimately
serving up tailored, relevant content. The majority (51%) of Trailblazers personalize content by marketing persona, and to a lesser extent by individual (43%), in accordance with purchase history data, and other behavioral data. So even the majority of Trailblazers are trying to approach personalization through basic targeting and segmentation (personas). Our field experience suggest that they are not likely to succeed as the core requirement for personalization is individual profile information and the ability to render dynamic messaging and experiences to individual based on that information.

“Achieving personalization takes commitment. The largest share of executives in the survey (58%) say that they are improving their ability to deliver personalized 1:1 content by building a strong data analytics foundation. Many are also looking to speed their ability to create and distribute content”

Executives think they are building personalization capabilities, but in fact they are building data collection and analytics capabilities to improve targeting. They focus on faster content creation and distribution of static content rather than understanding the nature of dynamic content and how to build this knowhow internally. But with two million daily posts being published - more of the same is not likely to be successful - its like swimming in the red ocean - most will drown.

Top barrier for personalization - is not really a barrier

When asked about challenges of creating personalized content, executives cited budget constraints and fragmented technology infrastructure among their top challenges. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said budget was the biggest challenge to producing relevant content, despite the fact that 87% of respondents plan to increase their content-marketing spending the next fiscal year.

This finding expose the irony of the status quo: personalization is not only more efficient in converting than targeted static content, it is also orders of magnitude cheaper to produce - simply because you produce a lot less content to serve the target audience with a relevant message. It seems that most organizations still think that more content is better. For now - dynamic keep losing out to static content.

When it comes to technology, the ability to build a cross channel real time digital profile of the customer is now more of a commodity with solutions on all price levels. Even the lower cost solutions, would likely serve most organizations, as the majority of executions are conceptually light weight.

Massive lack of understanding of personalization

According to PwC’s 2015 Global Digital IQ® Survey 26% of all digital investments is happening within the Marketing function - this makes me conclude that there must be major confusion among the majority of executives on how to deal with the personalization challenge and massive lack of understanding of the nature of personalization and how you create it. Touting resource scarceness the main reason for lack of traction is likely a result of this confusion. Executives seems to look at technology to solve the lack of direction and skills within the organization - if so, it will not have a happy ending.

Make your own conclusions and read the full report here.

Kresten Bergsøe
Monoloop

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