Content personalization: A Path to Relevance


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We provide insight into how your website can deliver the right message to the right people and why now is the time to begin exploring these options. Most importantly, the tools you need may be both affordable and within your technical reach.

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Content personalization: A Path to Relevance

  1. 1. Content Personalization:A Path to Relevance DUO C O N S U L T I N GWe provide insight into how your website can deliver the rightmessage to the right people and why now is the time to beginexploring these options. Most importantly, the tools you needmay be both affordable and within your technical reach. Duo Consulting 20 W Kinzie, Suite 1510 Chicago, IL 60654 312.529.3000
  2. 2. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Eerie how the Internet keeps You’re not paranoid. You ARE being followed. following you around, isn’t it? You’ve experienced a form of content personalization — and it’s happening many different ways across the web. Being tracked online may sound You visit a website one day; the next, creepy. And, well, it is. But when these tactics are used correctly, content you get an advertisement for personalization can provide powerful benefits, for marketers and consumers the same brand on a completely of content alike. different site. Those ads that follow you are known as retargeting. But content personalization is more than just retargeted advertising. An entire school of thought revolves around content personalization. From delivering a logical next step through a targeted call to action to loading completely different pages based on audience segments, content personalization helps you drive different content to unique visitor types. Or said differently and more positively, content personalization permits you to deliver a more relevant experience because you know a little bit about the consumer of the content and what content they might value.312.529.3000 | | 2
  3. 3. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance It’s about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. And it’s finally within reach for brands of all shapes and sizes. Sure, it’s been an emerging tactic for some time. But the tools have been both pricey and proprietary from providers such as Adobe. Some online brands will find more use for it than others. What about your business needs? Consider the following: Content personalization makes the most sense for brands with: • udiences that include multiple industries, different roles in the same A industry or other segmentations that need to be offered different perspectives on the benefits of your brand • Separate products/services for unique audience segments • udience segments that might need different messages based A on where they’re located geographically • Marketing and advertising plans that exist outside of their websites • desire to sell more effectively online by simplifying the funnel — A leading customers to the business objective by providing targeted calls to action And what benefit can you get out of the effort?312.529.3000 | | 3
  4. 4. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Why content personalization? Why now? You certainly recognize that the web has grown increasingly social. Internet users are already familiar with personalized content delivered to them via Twitter feeds or RSS subscriptions. In essence, people are already getting content they actually choose to be delivered to them. As a marketer, you should learn how to go with this flow. And isn’t content personalization something we’ve always aspired to, anyway? Your audience wants to buy your service — they just don’t know it yet. It’s your job to offer them the easiest path from discovering you to being your client. Content personalization minimizes the steps in this customer lifecycle by automatically recognizing website visitors based on some criteria and delivering content to the visitor based on their industry, location and other segmentation factors. Why now? The technology is capable, that’s why. There are still challenges to work out. Kinks to fix. But there’s no doubt that we’re far enough along to begin deployment. Content personalization offers two simple benefits. • trike a chord S It’s easier to deliver a message that resonates with your prospect when you can identify visitors and present the perfect content in real-time. By sending the right message to the right person at the right time, you increase the chances of turning her into a prospect. • nspire an action I Targeted content increases the likelihood of a visitor or prospect taking an action. By recognizing where in the sales or relationship funnel your visitor is, you can offer the most relevant “next step” to guide him into the relationship. In its most granular form, content personalization is digital marketing made easy. Well, sort of. Really good things don’t come easy.312.529.3000 | | 4
  5. 5. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Yes, there are challenges. Adopting a new strategy before it hits the mainstream always has obstacles. Content personalization is no different. You may run into a number of challenges, including: Being tracked online may sound • our CMS is holding you back. Y If you’re locked into a relationship with a vendor, you’re beholden to creepy. But when these tactics their development schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to rely on are used correctly, content your vendor to build a feature — unless you don’t have the budget to find outside help. CMS software companies like Adobe, OpenText personalization can provide and Drupal are already working on or launching content personalization powerful benefits, for marketers functionality. and consumers of content alike. • ou have no access to the data you need. Y Perhaps you still aren’t sure how to use your analytics platform. Or you’re stuck in the stone ages, without the budget or staff to measure data. If this is an obstacle, you have to begin to build the business case for undertaking this effort. This whitepaper may help. • our platforms don’t fit well together. Y Your CMS, analytics platform, personalization software or related platforms just don’t work well together. (Hint: it may be time for a change.) On top of all that, you have no idea how to personalize content. What are the working parts? Who has actually found success?312.529.3000 | | 5
  6. 6. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance How exactly does it work? Some aspirational marketing departments have tried to use Amazon as a model for their programs. It took more than luck to propel the online retail giant to its current level of web domination. For years, marketers the world over have praised the brand for its ability to collect user data and translate it into personalized content recommendations. The company calls their recommendation engine “item-to-item collaborative filtering” — in essence, a specific facet of content personalization. How does it work? “ t root, the retail giant’s recommendation A system is based on a number of simple elements: what a user has bought in the past, which items they have in their virtual shopping cart, items they’ve rated and liked, and what other customers have viewed and purchased.” (CNNMoney) There are other, more focused elements to the company’s algorithms. But the company keeps it pretty simple, which is an important part of how marketers successfully use content personalization today.312.529.3000 | | 6
  7. 7. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Marketers can approach personalized content in one of two ways. A single piece of content: The content could range from a banner ad to a sidebar recommending articles. (TechCrunch puts the latter in play using content personalization engine Gravity, for example.) Whatever the case, this approach usually focuses on an isolated piece of content on any given page. Typically, this may lead your visitor to a desired action — if she’s viewed an eBook on a previous visit, for instance, and you want to point her to the page that details how your business provides that service. Google puts this in play with its retargeting program. Brands involved use Google Ads in an effort to recapture people who visited their sites after they’ve closed the window. (These are the daily ads that haunt you, as we discussed in our opening paragraphs.) Enterprise content marketers can use personalization to return a newsfeed of blog posts, white papers and other pages that reflect the visitor’s past browsing experience. Marketers with segmented audiences can snag the attention of the visitor with an industry-specific call to action. Publishing brands return more relevant banner or badge ads. While we suggest starting with a single piece of content, a few brands are already paving the way to comprehensive personalization. …content personalization permits you to deliver a more relevant experience because you know a little bit about the consumer of the content.312.529.3000 | | 7
  8. 8. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance A completely unique user experience: Crafting an entirely unique user experience that speaks to a specific audience is tricky. Marketers who pursue this approach achieve the best outcomes when their visitors are invited to opt-in first. Tell us who you are Research firm Forrester offers a great example of where visitor opt-in helps customize the entire experience. In their case, visitors are asked to identify their industry and role. Forrester then presents a homepage with content customized to that information. A cookie set in the browser enables the customized homepage to be presented to the visitor every time he visits. Tell us where you are Creating a unique user experience in real time can be as simple as measuring a single data point. Localization, for example, is a subset of content personalization gaining momentum in the retail industry. The only Creating a unique user experience data retailers need to personalize content is the visitor’s location. Using this in real time can be as simple as information to construct the landing page, a national clothing retailer for example can simultaneously present shorts and t-shirts to a visitor in Florida measuring a single data point. and parkas and boots to an Alaskan visitor. Again, we suggest you start with an individual piece of content before you immerse your website into a completely personalized experience. Marketers can set the groundwork for this first step by following a few key steps.312.529.3000 | | 8
  9. 9. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance How can your business successfully personalize content? If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering whether or not content personalization is even feasible for your organization. What goes into it? Are the challenges surmountable? How do you get started? Take a look at our step-by-step breakdown of how to get your organization on the right track to successful content personalization. Step 1: Segment your audience. Many marketers have already taken this step into consideration. It’s always good form to revisit your audience segments and make sure they still make the most sense for your business. Start out with two or three segments to keep things simple. To help you justify your segments, make sure the content you’d present to each audience member differs enough. You probably don’t have to split them into separate categories if the same message makes sense for more than one segment. Depending on which approach you’re using, you may decide to segment audience members based on their industry, where they are in the sales funnel, where they live or some other defining factor.312.529.3000 | | 9
  10. 10. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Step 2: Identify the data. Depending on how you plan to segment customers, you must be capable of collecting specific types of data. Which data helps you segment your customers? For our location-based clothing retail example, this is as simple as recognizing the visitor’s IP address location and configuring your CMS (or content personalization software) to respond on the fly. Other segments may depend on cookies that recognize previous visitor behavior — what pages they viewed, what actions they took and the like. For personalization your visitor opted into, you may rely on sign-in to access preferences defined by the visitor. Social sign-in may provide you with information from the social source. Facebook, for example, can be mined for a lot of demographic data – permissions allowing. Step 3: Find the right tools. There are a number of powerful technology tools available to you in the personalization process. Among open source options, tools like the socially enabled Drupal CMS can be customized to provide custom content. If you are already committed to a CMS that is less flexible and not as progressive, services like Gravity, Demandbase, Magiq and TargetAPI offer plug-in functionality that may meet your requirements. The great news is that you do have options. The challenge is making the right choice. Why now? The technology is capable, that’s why. There are still challenges to work out. Kinks to fix. But there’s no doubt that we’re far enough along to begin deployment.312.529.3000 | | 10
  11. 11. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Step 4: Create and deliver content. Once you have developed the environment, it’s time to create unique content for each segment. Each piece of content should be expressly tailored for the audience segment it’s intended. The content may consist of images, text, videos or other media that delivers a specific message to a specific type of client. Individual pieces of content can be created and stored using your content personalization technology or CMS. A fully custom page should have a unique URL so it retains the ability to be linked. Then linking to this page can be achieved by programming a page redirect based either on how the visitor identifies herself or how the system identifies her. Step 5: Measure your results. Implementing a content personalization strategy is only worthwhile if you can prove that it is working for you. That’s why it’s crucial to measure the results and tweak your tactic based on those measurements. Measure content personalization the same way you would usually measure the user-friendliness of your website. Some of the obvious metrics include: What’s the bounce rate? How long are prospects spending time on your site? Are visitors converting to some online goal (e.g. newsletter sign up, event registration, etc) at a higher rate?312.529.3000 | | 11
  12. 12. Content Personalization: A Path to Relevance Conclusion Understanding an emerging technology like content personalization is essential for marketers, whether you’re ready to get onboard now or you have other priorities at the moment. If you do plan to get started, remember to take it slow and simple at first, beginning with a single piece of content per page and measuring your results. The right technology is another crucial part of new strategy adoption. For content personalization and other emerging technologies, dynamic, supported open source platforms ensure that the ability to adopt emerging technologies is always within reach. Want to stay on top of content trends? Sign up for In The Loop, Duo Consulting’s official email newsletter. Duo utilizes Drupal open-source technologies to create content-rich websites accessible through traditional and mobile platforms. Contact Michael Silverman, CEO for more information 312.529.3000 | msilverman@duoconsulting.com312.529.3000 | | 12