Personalization Makes Everyone Happy

Pretty much everything is being personalised these days. And if you think this statement is an exaggeration, have a look at this incredible story of how the Gatorade Sports Science Institute personalised hydration for the Brazilian World Cup team.

Marketers are working hard to personalise, or at least segment, every aspect of every funnel and give their prospects a tailored-as-possible buying journey. It’s working, apparently, because more personalisation tools keep popping up. What’s funny is the thing getting the least personal treatment is the content on your very own website.

All Roads Funnel to Your Website

The best way to address all these concerns is to cleverly funnel the various decision makers to different content assets on your website. Each asset explains and elaborates a different feature or aspect of the product or service for a specific decision maker.

How do you build this funnel? One way to go about it is by inbound fancy footwork. Cast a wide net of search terms targeting the various decision makers, and lure each to a targeted page. It’s not going to be cheap if you’re going with Paid, and it won’t take a couple of weeks if you’re going with Organic, but hey, Amazon wasn’t build in a day.

Overall, companies in the B2B sphere tend to be very nonchalant when it comes to their own sites. They will put tremendous effort into their content assets “abroad” (creation, distribution, promotion, maintenance) but give very little love to content assets at home. It is like living in a really crappy apartment and driving a shiny new BMW. The BMW gets you noticed, but what will visitors to your apartment think of the futon you bought 11 years ago?

Manual vs. Automated Content Personalization

The next evolution of personalization is automated personalization. If you used personalization tools or platforms in the past, you know that they are a handful; if rules make you go crazy, I’d stay away from personalization. Automated personalization, on the other hand, leaves manual rule configuration out of the equation, or in the algorithm. Either way, you don’t need to bother with them, and that makes all the difference.

Personalising content is a tall order for automation. Until the pen-holding algorithm is conceived, writing will remain on human turf, and there’s nothing wrong with that; bots can get pretty nasty when given a chance to self-express.

Still, content personalisation is high on the priority ladder of B2B companies. According to a recent report from Seismic, it is an effective lead generation tool. But, as the report also indicates, content personalisation is still a manual process and takes a toll on the marketing department, which is why many companies refrain from it.

Content Engagement Leads to Conversion

Content personalization needs to occur “naturally” during the creation process, not post-creation. As you plan your content and content marketing strategies, you should outline content pieces for the various stages of the buying journey, the different decision makers, and the personas in your funnel.

Once you have your arsenal of personalized content ready, it’s just a matter of making sure it is being served in the most efficient manner to the right recipients. A white paper that details the merits of automated personalization and reaches the CMO of a B2B company will work, right? As long as it is well-written, well-reasoned, and the CMO actually reads it.

That leads us back to the content on your own website. This trove of content should, of course, appear on your site. As important as content distribution and outreach is, your website is your fortress, the quintessential representation of your brand. It should shine, sparkle, and be brimming with knowledge and information.

The problem that many companies face is how to ensure the content on their site is easily approachable and findable. (I avoid the term “searchable” purposefully, since one needs to know what to search for). The default is the blog, but a blog has an extremely problematic structure, a.k.a. the blogroll. Like a beautiful butterfly, a piece of content lives for only a short period of time (after a long and sometimes painful process of coming of age), soon to disappear in the abyss of the blogroll.

Marketers need to think of more efficient ways to make their content readily available to website visitors. Create sections in your blog that correspond to your audience segmentation, or play around with different blog interfaces. You can also create direct “entry points” at strategic locations throughout the site to specific pieces of content that you know make a strong impression.