Data and content are the key ingredients to personalisation but it’s all a bit Chicken and Egg.
Which one comes first, does it even matter, and how should you use them?
For years marketing best practice has preached that ‘Content is King’, but the diminishing effectiveness of traditional marketing is standing that on its head. Newspaper circulation is down 20% since 2003, young TV viewers are declining, ad click through rate is down to 0.06% but data driven content sites like Buzzfeed are thriving.
As we know, the reason traditional marketing isn’t working anymore is because consumers have a kaleidoscope of choice about what they consume and when. Whereas historically they had to wait until the product they didn’t know they wanted was marketed to them!
Sites like Buzzfeed have been very successful at selling quality sponsored content that doubles as advertising because they research their audience thoroughly, test different content and then sell it to brands. This switch from creating ads that look like content to creating the content itself is an important shift.
Ok, but what can I do on my site if I’m not Buzzfeed? What’s the solution for me?
A very good question, because most traditional ecommerce businesses have products to sell on their own site.
This demand on marketers to generate more engaging content, with the same resources and handling more data, on the same budget is a difficult one. Creating content is also expensive so it should only be undertaken if you know your customers are going to consume it.
The solution is personalisation. And for the sake of clarity I would define onsite personalisation as “the surfacing of content that is more relevant to that customer based on their previous or likely behaviour”. This can be something as simple as removing an email sign up bar if you know that customer is already subscribed, or as complex as surfacing articles or education pieces that you know feature a brand they have previously purchased from.
Ok, so personalisation seems like a good idea but how do you know what content or areas to personalise?
This brings us back to our Chicken and Egg - Customer Data and Content loop. Strengthening the bond between data and content is crucial to solving this conundrum and you really need to have some pragmatic rules to make sure you’re not going round in circles.
So to help our clients get to grips with personalisation we start with 5 key considerations:
Analysis – You probably have a wealth of insight just lying around the business, start there! What campaigns have had great opens, clicks and page views? This is your customers telling you what they like, listen to them. You also have a wealth of content already, why not start using that?
Define your strategy – Who is this aimed at and why? Does this tie into our long term strategy and what KPIs are we going to set to measure its success?
Don’t spend too much on content - Simply throwing more money at your strategy doesn’t make it successful. Make sure it’s affordable and fits with your strategy.
Don’t forget the context – It’s not always what you say, it’s when, where and how you say it. Where are you going to launch this new piece of personalised content? Does it fit with the rest of the site navigation or the theme? Is the user going to be viewing it on their mobile on the bus home or on their TV in their living room?
There is no silver bullet – Personalisation and generating better content doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a matter of months. Don’t expect to double your website traffic and revenue but keep testing and wait to see the results.
I genuinely believe that personalisation is both achievable and the key to the future of B2C brand marketing of any size – regardless of budget. The nirvana of 1-2-1 marketing is getting nearer and this relationship between customers, data and content needs to be a weapon in our armour for generating new, innovative and exciting experiences for our customers.
Content is dead, long live personalisation!