For some, content personalization may seem like a gimmick with no real value to end-users. However, in our time-poor and content-swamped lives, brands have a real opportunity to add much-needed utility to people’s lives by personalizing the content they receive.

Feeling swamped with content?
Feeling swamped with content?

Content overload

One of the biggest problems of modern life is that we are absolutely swamped with content.

This infographic by DOMO breaks down the amount of content published on the internet every minute; YouTube users upload 48 hours of video, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, Instagram users share 3,600 new photos, and Tumblr sees 27,778 new posts published. These are sites many people around the world use on a regular basis, and will continue to use in the future. Not to mention all the other web 2.0 sites that have enabled individuals – as well brands – to become publishers.

The cult of busyness impairs decision-making

Now couple this state of content overload with our increasingly busy lives.

“Busy” looks different for each one of us. But certainly in our post-industrialised knowledge economies each of us is victim to the “cult of busyness” in some way. This isn’t a particularly new phenomenon – it’s as old as the human condition – but it is a reality that affects us in several ways. Most notably, we don’t have enough time to do anything (everything).

Yet, life is no respecter of persons. No matter how busy we are – no matter how time-pressured – we are still called upon to make lots of decisions each and every day. From trivial concerns such as what to eat for lunch to more serious considerations, such as which mortgage or health insurance to purchase.

To make these decisions, we need information. Not just any information, but the right information. More importantly we need the right information quickly.

The search for the right content

The cult of busyness means we rarely have the necessary time to search and find the right content. Perversely, most of our busyness comes from having to search for content that will make our lives less busy!

A search engine will throw up generally helpful content but – despite much ink spilled about the “filter bubble” – SERPs are still hopelessly dependant upon generic keywords and aren’t actually personalized to us as individuals.

Meanwhile, we are left to restlessly sift through the next hyperlink that comes our way; hoping to find that piece of content that which will answer our query, meet our immediate need and ultimately make our lives easier.

The opportunity: “intelligent content” personalization that makes lives easier

There is a huge opportunity for brands who utilise the right technology to enable people to find out what they need as quickly as possible. This could be a current customer, a prospect or even an advocate who might never use your product but knows someone who will.

In the real-time marketing world, we often speak of “the always-on customer”. The term is often used to nudge brands whose marketing remains static, broadcast and planned (internally, we refer to this as “dumb content”, no offense) to more innovative practice. But more than a buzzword, it is a reality: we are perpetually connected to an online world where content can be accessed and inform and influence our views.

“Personalization as a marketing practice must go beyond making sure the subject line changes to get more email opens to actually delivering intelligent content to individuals that provides utility and meets a personal need”

It is in brands’ best interests that they are at least part-involved in informing what content reaches the end-user. Whether it’s by simply creating useful content that could be useful, or going the whole way and intelligently personalizing how and where that content is delivered: in emails, through banner ads, via mobile or on social channels.

Brands using personalization in their marketing is good for business and it’s good for the customer experience. It may not fully save us all from our frenetic lives, but it’s certainly a noble and (for brands that do it well) commercially beneficial start.

If this piques some interest, or you want to chat about how this intelligent content personalization might work in your situation, just drop us an email to [email protected], or on Twitter at @idioplatform