Humans are not goldfish. But their attention span cannot be taken for granted. When you offer people content, long-form or short, you must be able to hold their interest. It’s the ultimate test of content application because it takes only a few seconds for a consumer to lose interest in your messaging, and if they turn away, they are gone.
We live in an era of instant gratification and avalanching messages; most are off-target, irrelevant, or uninspiring, so your content must stand clear on dry ground in the deluge of information. How can you make it happen? By tailoring content to fit your customer’s mindset. It’s the difference between an off-the-rack suit and a bespoke one. What helps is real-time or near-real-time data on customers. It’s the contour on which you will expertly drape your messaging.
If you get the right fit, it will increase customer engagement and loyalty and make a meaningful and measurable difference in your company’s bottom line.
The rewards of personalized content
Modern marketing rewards you handsomely when you deliver a world-class personalized customer experience, and it also converts into profitable growth for your organization.
What does this require? Tailored recommendations, content, messages, offers, and experiences across your marketing channels and devices, along the entire customer journey. It can potentially create $1.7 trillion-$3 trillion in additional value. But, capturing this value requires mastering the technologies and addressing the siloed structure of your organization—all while forging and protecting the data of your customers and building trust.
There are no technology issues, only people issues
There is a myth doing the rounds that personalization at scale is daunting and requires millions of dollars in IT investments. But the fact is most of the tools you need to do this are available to you; all you need is to know how to use them.
To start with develop a road map with milestones and work on evaluating your progress at every step taking into consideration the trade-off between ease of implementation and the value at stake. Identify and prioritize short-term wins that make it feasible for the organization to continue investing in the transformation. Remember, successful players, start small and generate top-line impact as quick wins before automating the lessons learned from the experience. They then integrate them across the organization.
Also remember that it’s not the technology that’s the issue, it’s the people. The gatekeepers of data are people. People get into routines that they are uncomfortable breaking. It is common for people to defend legacy decisions that are no longer relevant. It is people who determine how to collaborate with their peers, and it is people who inspire change and make personalization not only possible but delightful for your customers every day as well. Ultimately, technology is only a means to an end.
Two types of content personalization
There are two kinds of customer personalization: Static and Dynamic.
Static personalization is based on past behavior and preferences stored in databases or cookies. It studies marketing metrics that cull insights into past behavior to evaluate current campaigns. This method has met its expiry date.
Dynamic personalization is based on real-time data collected from user activities. It is the way forward.
Data analytics (real-time or near-real-time) help:
- Forecast unmet consumer needs.
- Identify opportunities you never knew existed.
- Reveal customers’ more profound pain points.
Data analytics (real-time or near-real-time) also help predict the next best actions to be taken, including commercial messages and engagement. You can plan the right mix of content to educate and deepen relationships with customers, build communities, cross-sell, upsell, and boost retention.
Personalization makes the customer experience more intimate and relevant to their needs, from what they watch on TV to how they shop and read articles online.
The 3 Ds that enable personalization at scale
While implementing technologies, you will face several challenges, the principal among them being a lack of coordination between your marketing and IT departments. You cannot draw on the full power of personalization unless your CMO and CTO/CIO work in tandem.
As your organization’s marketing leader, you must use the 3 Ds — Data, Decisioning, and Distribution — to create a symphony. Technology is critical (you have most of it at your disposal), and its proper use will help you maximize the full potential of personalization.
Silos isolate the data from effective personalization. To resolve this problem, you must integrate the customer data and data-management platforms with identity-resolution platforms to merge data and make it accessible across channels.
Most CRM systems are built on rigid and relational databases and often lack the flexibility or scalability to organize large volumes of structured and unstructured data. You need platforms that can run advanced analytics to extract valuable and practical insights and send appropriate messaging e.g. if customer “A” takes an action “B,” send the content item “C.”
Data must be centralized and made readily accessible to ensure that activity in one channel can instantly support engagement in another in real-time or near–real-time. Three critical data-management systems are needed: A Customer Data Platform (CDP), an Identity-Resolution Platform, and a Data-Management Platform (DMP).
To know more about these systems, read the article here.
Decisioning lies in individual, channel-specific, closed-loop systems, or it does not exist at all, resulting in an incoherent experience for customers. Create an automated decision-making engine that employs machine learning and AI models to score propensities for each prospect or customer. These scores are essential to define the probability of an individual responding to a specific offer or engaging with specific content.
Standard data models can only facilitate the delivery of messages or offers. In contrast, modern automated decision-making processes allow for capturing and monitoring customer reactions and analyzing them to guide future communication and offer development.
A decision-making rule, an exception, or an unacceptable variance can be configured to be passed on to managers (although these exceptions should not exceed five percent of all decisions).
In much of marketing, there is an absence of real-time coordination between channels, and channels must be integrated to react to customer behavior faster.
The final step in personalization is the distribution of content. An intelligent system will use the propensity scores of prospects and customers to trigger personalized ads and content, such as landing pages, offers, or experiences across channels.
Companies that succeed in merging and automating their customer and marketing data platforms can test, track, refine and optimize themselves in real-time, ensuring the right offer goes to the right customer at the right time. It allows businesses to influence customers’ decision journeys, strengthen relationships, and gain a competitive advantage.
The synergy of the 3 Ds
For the three Ds to work successfully, you need to tie them into your technology systems, commonly through APIs, to enable data to flow where required and for decisions to take place in real-time or near-real-time. It allows much of this cycle to learn and adapt in real-time automatically. Predictive marketing analytics then recommend what actions drive the highest conversion rates.
A lot of very good content
Content powers personalization — but someone has first to develop and organize it. Ensure that your ‘robots’ don’t guide your customers to boring, irrelevant, low-quality content. The development of a strong content supply chain powered by researchers, strategists, designers, copywriters, animators, and videographers thus becomes increasingly important. You can and should test all content attributes regularly – their look, feel, tone, call to action, and value proposition.
Perhaps this is too much work for your in-house content team. To scale up good content production, hiring a full-service strategic content agency is to your advantage. With a full-service content agency, you will have diverse resources at your disposal, including strategists, researchers, subject matter/industry experts, seasoned copywriters, SEO professionals, and editors.
A full-service content team creates content aligned with the client’s vision and requirements, enhancing the brand’s vision and strategy more effectively than an in-house team burdened with multiple foci.
We can help you develop a brand story, message, storytelling, and buyer personas, build personalized marketing strategies and create strategic content.