Avoid the Content Panic Syndrome with Better Personalization

Originally Published in MarTech Advisor

Written by Mark Smith

Today’s consumers expect a personalized experience when they interact with brands — according to customer data infrastructure leader Segment’s State of Personalization Report, on average 71% of consumers express some level of frustration when their experience is impersonal. And while marketers are working to bridge that gap by serving everyone that interacts with their brand tailored content, most of them are suffering from Content Panic Syndrome: becoming overwhelmed by the infinite content options they think they need to develop to do personalized cross-channel marketing right. But fear not; marketers don’t need an infinite amount of content. They can start smart and grow smart with a few practical steps.

Identify Moments That Matter

Content Panic often begins with the paralysis marketers feel when they don’t know where to start. All marketers want to know where the biggest opportunities are so they can focus their efforts there. By starting with identifying the interactions or touchpoints that matter most to customers, marketers can focus on those really important moments – the moments that matter in a customer’s journey with a brand, at its onset or during its on-going relationship. By focusing on the most critical moments where customers get stuck or can be delighted, marketers can make the most impact. So no need to create a piece of unique content for every single touchpoint; rather, focus on enhancing the content that will have the greatest impact.

Leverage Pre-Existing Content

The reality is that brands rarely need to generate net new content; they just need to map which existing content supports real-time situations. Marketers know their customers well, the personas that embody them, and the themes and topics that move them and the big opportunity to avoid Content Panic Syndrome is by using this intelligence in the selection process.

Once marketers have identified this content, they can personalize how the content is served based on collected customer data — customer preferences, interests or past browsing behavior. Leveraging their knowledge of the customers with the insights collected on their journey with the brand will help marketers determine the optimal number of content permutations to serve, the content’s timing and the channel to deliver it on. Personalization can also involve tailoring each piece of content by using the person’s name or references to their past purchases or preferences.

In one example, one global CPG brand serving moms identified its welcome email as a critical moment that mattered in its customers’ journeys. The team behind the on-boarding processes was aligned with the benefits of personalization, but did not want to create 30 different email permutations. Instead, they created a single email template with three modifiable modules and 10 content blocks to swap out the modules as appropriate, giving them an exponential number of personalization options. Which content blocks were used was determined by the behavior of a customer during their conversion journey prior to signing up.

In another example, a national brand wanted to find an impactful and easy-to-manage method to respond to customers based on their engagement level with the brand. Using a simple engagement index, which scored prospects on their depth of engagement with specific web content, the brand was able to create two different, intelligently triggered pop-ups that led to big increases in their free trial offer.

Test for Impact

Once a brand team creates the initial foundational content, marketers need to listen for customers cues — to analyze what works and improve on the aspects that have the most impact. And while A/B testing is an ideal approach in specific situations, such as not knowing the right approach for a customer or trying to decide between two or more competing content options, marketers must expand their testing beyond this method and verify that the appropriate content is actually being served to the right customer at the right time.

For content to effectively do its job, it needs to be fed the right logic to begin with: individuals need to be correctly identified based on their interests in certain topics and properly placed within their journey, e.g. top of the funnel or far enough through a funnel, so marketers can predict when they are ready for the next step, like a trial or test drive.

Effective content marketing comes down to sharing content on the right topic at the right time for optimal relevance and maximum impact. By identifying the topics and moments that matter most, marketers can create killer content that resonates every time instead of experiencing Content Panic, which is overwhelming and paralyzing.

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