4 ways to use personalisation in content marketing

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The world of marketing is pretty cutthroat these days. As businesses compete for leverage in an online world, industries are becoming more competitive, and potential customers are becoming increasingly harder to reach. Indeed, many once great methods of online advertising are relics of a bygone era. For example, most users, especially millennials, completely ignore banner ads. Other advertising methods have made a resurgence, but their staying power is questionable. Pop-ups, for example, are making a strong comeback in terms of conversions, but they were also once the scourge of the internet, so who knows how long they’ll stick around? The point is, marketing trends are hard to predict. One thing, though, remains true: users like having relevant content delivered to them. The form of the content may change, but as long as it’s relevant to the user, there’s a good chance they’ll take a look.

This is why we’ve seen the rise of content marketing recently, a practice that doesn’t so much rely on feeding users a series of potentially effective ads as it does provide those users with more organic, substantive content, in the form of a blog or sponsored articles on other sites, that is relevant to the company’s product or service and that will actually interest the users. It’s less brazenly obtrusive than traditional stale banner ads, and in that spirit, one thing that people do still respond to these days is a personal touch in marketing campaigns. With the rise of cookies and increasingly insightful user activity tracking tools, a whole lot of people are now used to the internet being personalized to their interests and browsing habits. When it comes to marketing, the key to success in today’s competitive industry is finding that perfect balance of content that users actually want to read and that feels catered personally to their specific interests and needs.

Hitting that goal is tough, but when it strikes home, personalized content marketing can be hugely successful for your campaigns, which is why many experts are now calling personalization a necessity in marketing.

With that in mind, here are four ways to use personalization in your content marketing.

Segment Your Audience

Despite its age relative to other digital advertising methods, email is still revered as a very effective platform for marketing content. Indeed, email marketing remains one of the most cost effective ways of reaching a large audience, and as such, it boasts the highest ROI of any digital platform out there. Some of today’s most popular email marketing tools, such as MailChimp, Emma, and Campaign Monitor, offer robust customization features that make it easy for you to deliver the content in a way that’s tailored to your brand’s message.

The advanced features of the top email marketing platforms can also track user activity and interaction with your marketing materials, meaning you can hone in on sub-groups within your audience that gravitate toward certain aspects of your content. Once you’ve identified different interest groups in your audience, you can begin catering your content based on the material they’ve enjoyed (i.e. interacted with the most) in the past. You can then segment these groups and personalize your email content by sending out separate newsletters to each segment, with the emails varying based on each particular group’s respective interests in your content. The more you give users content that they will enjoy, the more likely you are to get a conversion from them.

Involve Your Audience and Crowdsource

When it comes to content marketing, it’s not always about churning out your own blog material in the hopes of a few articles hitting home with your users. Indeed, there is such a thing as bad content marketing, and sometimes, it’s best to look outward for your content. Curation is just as important as creation in many instances. Whether it’s having guest bloggers write posts for your site or simply sharing content from other industry leaders, curating a conversation in your campaign is a great way to make your content feel personal and get individuals involved with your marketing organically.

Take, for example, the Toptal Blog. Toptal is a network of elite freelance developers and designers who pride themselves on being expert voices in their respective fields. The Toptal Blog mirrors that pride by getting freelancers from their network to write high-quality technical articles about a specific subject relevant to designers or developers. The topics range anywhere from crash courses in a particular JavaScript framework to tips on creating emotionally resonant branding, and since they’re written by members of the Toptal freelance network, they have the benefit of pairing human faces with the company’s brand. The author of the article will often share the post with his or her personal network and continue the cycle of pushing out personalized, relevant content to an engaged audience.

Welcome Back Old Friends

Content personalization doesn’t just have to apply to the art of attracting new customers. In fact, it can go a long way toward making sure you hold onto your repeat customers, a much more stress-free way of providing long-term recurring revenue for your business. The idea of valuing a customer as an individual might be easier in a good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store, where you have face-to-face interactions with your customers, but the principle still holds true with customers online, even though they only show up as data on a screen.

If a first-time customer is initially satisfied with your product, there’s a chance they may come back for another visit. Why not give them the VIP treatment when they return? Thanks to cookies, marketing analytics platforms, and users entering their information when they make a purchase, you can track when a user makes a return visit to your site. When they do return, make sure that your site loads a personalized repeat customer form. So, if John Doe first saw a general “Welcome, guest!” message the first time he visited, you can personalize his second visit to say “Welcome back, John!” You can even recommend pages and products for John based on his previous interactions. While this is not necessarily “marketing” in the reaching-out-to-capture-new-audiences sense, it’s nonetheless important to make sure your repeat customers feel personally welcomed when they come back to your site, as it establishes loyalty to your brand.

Consider Push Notifications

While email and social media campaigns are simple and cost effective ways of reaching a broad audience quickly and are thus the predominant means of marketing these days, they are also the places where the most content is flying around, making it easy for your campaign to get lost in the shuffle, especially in moments of particularly fresh breaking news, when everyone is sounding off on the issue. In moments like these, it’s a good idea to consider push notifications as a personalized way of reaching your audience and supplementing your further-reaching marketing efforts.

Push notifications implicitly say to a user, “Hey, we think this information might be relevant to you right now,” and because it’s an instant alert instead of an announcement into a larger feed, it immediately draws users’ attentions. Have you segmented your audience into geographic regions and catered your content based on region? You can send push notifications to users based on geographic location and time zone. Maybe you’ve highlighted individual users who have been especially active on certain posts. You can send them a customized push notification on their phone, notifying them by name when an article they might enjoy goes live. Want to let users browsing on their desktop know that you’ve just published a piece of content relevant to a breaking news story? Send them a desktop notification. Push notifications are by nature personalized, because most of the time, users have to allow them to be sent, and in many cases, they can even pick and choose which type of notification they want to receive.

personalization in content marketing
Image Credit: Flickr, Brandon Dimcheff

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