Personalisation has come a long way from swapping “Dear Sir” for “Hi Joe” in eDMs. Now we have the capabilities to go beyond the superficial: understand audiences’ behaviours, predict their interests, and tailor content to influence their decision-making.
And we have the future on our side. Big data and the growing information boom from the Internet of Things will only provide even more insights for us to target buyers’ preferences.
But being able to do something does not always mean doing it right. To reap the most from this world of possibilities, first consider the challenges.
Personalisation matters – but use with care
A good 74% of us appreciate the positive effect of personalisation on customer engagement, according to Econsultancy. By personalising, we help awaken senses dead to a world of non-stop, 24-7 ads. We counter two problems endemic in today’s buyers: dwindling attention spans, and a universal ‘emotional unsubscribe’ to traditional marketing.
It’s basic human psychology to respond well to content that resonates. And on the B2B front, personalisation is especially key to building long-term relationships – even with sales-qualified leads who don’t purchase. Personalised content helps bring these outliers back into the funnel with recommendations and reminders.
But let’s not take for granted the power of personalisation. We cannot go all-out without exercising any caution.
Beware of a filter bubble
Personalisation algorithms tend to progressively filter content into a bubble, as this TED talk explains. This not only limits the audience’s exposure to new ideas, but can also discourage us, the content creators, from exploring and experimenting with new types of content. We don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves.
Don’t be creepy
The deeper the data we have on users, the better we can personalise, and the better we can remarket as well. But therein lies another trap: failing to exercise restraint. Remarketing is one thing and stalking another – personalisation can easily backfire if the audience finds a certain solution following them around too much.
Be in sync with the audience
Personalisation is, after all, about people. And people change over time. So will audience behaviour and psychographics.
Suppose a lead in Indonesia, who was always keen on social listening tools, moves to Europe’s oil and gas industry? Data on his preferences will become outdated, and personalising content for him will require a relook.
So how to go about personalising?
1. Get inside the buyer’s mind
The ideal approach is to put oneself in the buyer’s shoes. Isn’t it easier to pay attention to content that has one’s interests written all over it?
Timeliness is also crucial. Understanding buyers also means understanding where they are in the purchase journey. Hard-selling copy instead of informative content only throws off a potential lead at the top of the funnel.
While scanning audience’s digital footprints, it is essential to interact with them offline as well. No amount of data can replace a personal conversation. Constantly engage audiences to review and update personas.
2. Automate to optimise personalisation
More individual attention for leads means more effort spent personalising content for each one, right? Wrong.
Marketing automation software has become so advanced, it only makes personalisation easier. By delivering intelligent content in real time based on a lead’s online and offline behaviour, automation optimises resources and results.
For example, automated email campaigns see nearly 15% higher open rates and 79% higher click-through rate than manual campaigns, according to email marketing provider Silverpop.
3. Test often, improve always
As more data pours in across the purchase journey, there will be more opportunities to gain insights into leads.
Use this data. Start with basic audience segmentation – age, geography and gender. Soon, information like name, company and job title will introduce more variables to work with.
Use A/B and multivariate testing to tweak these variables. Measure the relevant metrics to see which ones are most effective to personalise landing pages, email campaigns and CTAs.
4. Target social audience with precision
The deep data available on social networks offers untapped potential for personalisation. User data like interests, page likes, and causes and organisations followed can all be used by marketers to tailor content with precision.
The ad targeting options on Facebook (and now Google) get ever more precise by the day. Facebook’s custom audiences allow you to focus on high potential leads. Lookalike audiences help widen your reach to users similar to a chosen custom audience list.
Content marketers fantasise about hitting the sweet spot between what their brand wants to say and what their audiences want to hear. Personalisation helps makes that a reality.
How do you personalise your marketing?
Read more: Content Marketing solutions from GetIT Comms.