//Note: This blogpost is also available in german.//
Personalized marketing is more relevant, more targeted, and better perceived than ‘regular marketing’. That is not only what common sense tells us, but also what figures and statistics show from different analysts and surveys. See for example the latest “State of Inbound” report from HubSpot or the newest “State of the Connected Customer” report from Salesforce. Even better than any report altogether: try it for yourself!
What is personalized marketing?
Most of us have already had some sort of experience with personalized marketing. There are different use cases with varying degrees of complexity for how the content of a marketing campaign can be tailored for every individual recipient. The most common scenarios are:
- Using field merges in emails, letters, on landing pages
- Using dynamic content in emails, on landing pages, websites
- Using targeted content for different Personas
- Using specific content in different campaign stages
Personalizing marketing with field merges
The most simple use case is certainly to have a field merge included in your marketing content. This could be the subject line of an email, a text element within an email, or the salutation on a landing page. Typical examples of field merges for personalized marketing are “Dear [FirstName]”, “Companies like [CompanyName]”, or something of the sort like “Thank you for downloading [DownloadName]”. Field merges are easily done, have very low complexity, but require 100% data completeness and accuracy.
Personalizing marketing with dynamic content
The next level of personalized marketing is dynamic content. In this case, it is not just one word that gets individualized, but an entire content block. Furthermore, you can personalize text elements as well as images, links, buttons and calls-to-action with the help of dynamic content. The personalization of dynamic content is based on rules which you configure in advance, including a default rule for those cases where your other rules will not apply. A very simple example in reference to the field merge “Dear [FirstName]” could be to only show this salutation “IF [FirstName] contains at least 2 characters”, otherwise show “Dear Customer”. You can increase the complexity of dynamic content by both building more rules, and adding more criteria to each rule.
Using Personas and targeted content
In order to push the personalized marketing experience even further, you will most likely introduce Personas to your content marketing strategy. Personas are virtual characters that you want to target with your marketing content. There are different approaches to how Personas can be designed, amongst the most popular ones are Personas that you will meet in the course of the sales cycle. For example “The Marketing Manager”, “The Sales Director”, “The IT Guy”, “The Sponsor”, etc.
The good thing about Personas and persona-tailored content is that it’s far more effective in comparison to using the same standard content for each and everybody. The bad thing is that persona-driven content marketing will exponentially multiply your content production with every Persona you add to your marketing concept.
Personalized content per campaign stage
While Personas are a big step ahead in delivering highly personalized content, the other relevant component for an individualized marketing experience is the usage of the right content at the right time. Referring to the sales cycle again, you should target your content offering not only to a specific Persona, but additionally consider the buying stage of contacts you are marketing to.
There are again different ways how to determine such a campaign stage like the buying stage. You can use specific questions on forms to learn more about the current stage with every download a contact will make. The more complex, yet more interesting approach is to combine all sorts of behavioral data and to use lead scoring in order to determine the right campaign stage.
Adding the campaign stage dimension to your content marketing mix will require more content, of course. If you decided to have 3 Personas and 3 buying stages, you would need 9 pieces of content at least. Every new Persona or every additional buying stage will require exponentially more content. It is important to keep that in mind, because personalized marketing on this level comes at a cost. But keep in mind that the gains, i.e. improved conversion rates and a better marketing experience are worth it!
What is hyper-personalized marketing?
So, when personalized marketing is already pretty neat, what does “hyper-personalized marketing” even mean? In all the content examples shown above, there is one common pattern, no matter if you design your content per Persona, per buying stage, or both: The content as such is static and forces you to create content for each scenario. Once created or printed, there are no more variations of that content, until you decide to make yet another paper for the next Persona.
The new era in content marketing is hence to make content (like PDF or printed content) fully dynamic. Or, as we call it: hyper-personalized. Imagine you are using field merges like you do in emails, but now you are using them to create a hyper-personalized PDF or printed document at the exact moment a contact requests this particular document. It can be as simple as that your Checklist “How to prepare for the digital transformation” will carry the company name in the title, e.g. “How to prepare [CompanyName] for the digital transformation”.
Using specific rules, like explained in the section about “dynamic content”, you can have all sorts of variations regarding text elements, images, charts, statistics, quotes, etc. You are using real-time information at exactly the time when your content is requested in order to hyper-personalize it. Another big advantage is that your content will always be in the most recent layout, style, and branding, since all you need to do is to update the layout template in the background, while the actual content will be produced upon a download request.
Use cases for hyper-personalized content
Ultimately, we can think of a lot of possibilities where you can hyper-personalize your content. Basically at every occasion when you are processing data and the outcome is a PDF, image, or printed document that you would like to deliver instantly to a lead or contact.
Some more specific examples for hyper-personalized content are:
- Creating quotes or financial offers
- Invitations to events, seminars, trainings
- Event tickets
- Analytical Reports
- Case Studies
All you need to get started is a template, a clean database and a hyper-personalization engine. At APTLY, we are starting to use our engine and create different use cases for hyper-personalization, so if you are interested in the matter, feel free to talk to us!