As marketers, we’re in a race–a race to capture and hold the attention of our target audiences. Yet on the open road of the internet, it can sometimes feel like we don’t know which way is North.
If you’re spending more time aligning your campaigns and content in a cohesive manner than distributing them, it may be time to review your go-to-market strategy. Due to the volume and pace of communications today, it’s critical to leverage a self-sustaining strategy that reduces the number of times your content needs to be rebuilt or manually placed for personalization.
By building your programs with personalization in mind from the start, you can reduce the number of disparate activities that occur within your marketing team. In this blog, I’ll walk you through five personalization techniques that can help you increase engagement while reducing the strain of developing more content:
1. Develop Messaging Categories
Practically speaking, from top-to-bottom, do all of your activities begin and end with your target audiences in mind? Are your target audiences properly mapped to the products and services that will be the most interesting to them? As you’re thinking about your go-to-market approach, start by defining commonalities in audience interests and solutions, then place audiences into respective messaging groups that have similar needs. Create messaging categories that are strategically manageable, yet distinctive enough to produce an impact so that you can scale your efforts.
2. Architect Your Audience Into Your Site Layout
A first step of audience personalization is aligning your website layout to the messaging categories that you’ve defined. This is often a key area where attempts at personalization can quickly break down. Internally, companies may focus their communications more on the product than the customer, and these two objectives often conflict with one another. While it’s important to properly support and communicate product information, it is equally, if not more, important to communicate to your audience based on the problems your solution personally solves for them.
Before you start placing content on your website, review your site navigation menu to make sure that the categories align to audience interests, not internal product features alone. Ensure that the functional components of your site match the forms of communication that are most relevant to your target audiences. Then, test drive the user experience from the viewpoint of the personas that you are targeting and review the results as a team.
3. Structure Your Website With Responsive Design
Another core breakdown in effective marketing is taking on more than your team can handle. There is a fine line between effective communication and sustainable communication. While quality and timely content is often more important than the quantity of content, your team needs enough content to fuel their programs.
To balance quality with quantity, you should build scalability into your website design to support your go-to-market strategy. Modern web design leverages referential content that can be tagged and accessed through object-oriented databases–the most notable being WordPress, which allows users to manage content categorically. A properly managed website will incorporate audience personalization into its core structure, allowing you to place content into appropriate parts of your site through system-supported tags.
In a similar way, marketers may find themselves reformatting content to ensure that materials are universally accessible to their target audience. Modern web design leverages pre-formatted themes and templates that are responsive to the various locations and device types used to access content. If your team has been spending large amounts of time reformatting content, it’s worth considering responsive design so you can focus more on personalizing and publishing content than tweaking it.
4. Leverage Systems That Automatically Update List Membership
Defining the criteria that will support the ‘who’ in your personalized marketing is an essential, yet potentially time-consuming task for persona-based marketing. Having to rebuild these criteria before each and every campaign reduces your team’s ability to focus on the important task of matching communications to the targeted audience. But by leveraging systems that have a self-updating list architecture, you can dramatically improve the accuracy and effectiveness of your campaigns.
If you find that you are continually having to define and refine your segmentation criteria, block out some time to investigate the parts of your audience-building process that are repetitive or unnecessary. Best practices isolate the components of the segmentation process and automate manual activities. Though segmentation will always remain one of the most important marketing activities, sophisticated marketing automation platforms listen for data value changes in order to add or remove members from lists so that you can be more efficient and timely when executing personalized campaigns.
As a result, you can focus your list development on making minor tweaks and adjustments, rather than rebuilding the entire audience. This will also help your team monitor results more effectively by eliminating the potential for human error and improving your ability to test the impact of the messaging.
5. Find Marketing Systems That Support Dynamic Content
A final component of a scalable personalization strategy is the ability to automate the delivery of relevant messages without having to completely rebuild emails, landing pages, or your website. Sophisticated marketing automation platforms have dynamic content functionality built directly into their core design.
These are four types of personalization that allow marketers to personalize the content that recipients and visitors see without having to start from scratch for each and every audience:
- Snippets are small sections of content that automatically adjust the end-user experience based on pre-defined criteria from your database (e.g. changing out the signature of an email based on the contact or account owner in your database)
- Email scripts insert and adjust delivered content based on rule-based criteria and calls to external information sources (e.g. displaying a particular coupon code to a user based on a specific form being completed)
- Dynamic content sections adjust displayed content based on simple rule-based audience-to-message alignment–reference audiences are established that can be re-used consistently while building emails and landing pages
- Web personalization allows marketers to adjust presented information such as banners, pop-ups, or whole sections of their website based on known or anonymous information without affecting the core structure of the website
As the volume of communication continues to grow, marketers that personalize the experience and messaging for their target audiences will rise to the top. While it may seem like a daunting task, proper planning and tools can help you support a sustainable program for audience-oriented messaging.
What impact has audience personalization made on your marketing efforts? As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and tips on audience personalization below.