Creating a successful personalized content marketing strategy and executing it can be really demanding. Let me tell you why… Who doesn’t love cakes? Ok, some people don’t, but I really do. You know, there are cakes that are good, but there are some cakes that become amazing with just the right frosting… one that you really love. Something similar happens with a personalized content marketing strategy that stops where the word “content” does.
When you created your last content marketing strategy chances are you probably did it right. From defining your target audience, to drafting specific personas and detailing your customer segmentation goals. The thing is, chances are that content personalization was left behind. You might be missing the frosting.
The Role of Customer Segmentation to Create a Personalized Content Marketing Strategy
Every customer segmentation strategy consists of a subdivision of a market into smaller customer groups with similar characteristics. This helps marketers tailor specific offerings and messages for the personas and target audiences we were talking about before. Once defined, this will help you improve your KPIs, which must be aligned with your business goals.
Personalizing your content journey for every segment will help you 2X your conversions, specially in terms of engagement and sales cycle acceleration. Why? Because in the same way I’ll easily eat a cake with a chocolate and mint frosting, I’ll better understand and pay attention to a content that was meant specifically for me. But, wait… What happens if we are talking about 5k or even 100 leads? How can you automate this process?
Automating a Personalized Content Marketing Strategy
With marketing automation and automated workflows almost any type of content can be automatically personalized, tailored for every lead and for every segment. Let’s say instead of being a marketer, I’m a dentist interested on improving my industry knowledge as a doctor. I’ll probably try to find a Masters program that can help me achieve this goal. During that process I could have found a landing page that hosted an ebook about the topic. My educational journey starts.
The key here is that this lead, which is me, Josías De La Espada, filled out a web form with valuable information, even more than what our lead (me) expected. From the obvious, like first name and last name, to more useful information like the topic the new lead is interested at and even the country (via geolocation, for example). All this information can be used to automatically engage with this new lead and conduct it through a sales process using engagement and valuable content as one of our key allies.
Ok. Now lets take it one step further. You already send personalized emails, at least with the lead’s first name, right? Imagine you have super powers and can easily use all the information you gather from your leads to create a personalized eBook PDF, a personalized video or even a personalized image… on the fly. Do you see my point? Since it is easy to automatically collect data, let’s walk the extra mile and use this data to automatically populate any type of content to help the new lead to better understand your expertise and accelerate the sales process. Watch this video to see a content personalization example using video:
How is this even possible? Well, one of the beauties of the Internet is that everything is handled in data bases. So, for example, every time one of your landing page’s prospect fills out a lead generation form, the captured information is structured in a data base (even when what you see is a spreadsheet or just a beautiful dashboard). This structured information is exactly the same information frequently used to send email marketing campaigns. If you use a spreadsheet as your data source for a email marketing campaign, you would probably have something like this:
Depending on the email marketing software you use, if you want to personalized the name for every person on the spreadsheet, you will probably write something similar to “Hi [First Name],”, right? Content personalization works in the same way. For example, this how-to video shows how to create a personalized video using Google Sheets (spreadsheets by Google) as the main data source:
No matter what type of content you are going to automatically personalize, there are always three processes taking place:
- Using the data source: For example, the spreadsheet, data base or service that hosts the information captured from every form response in your content (an ebook landing page, a webinar registration landing page or even a contact form).
- Designing the content template to be personalized: Just like email templates, personalized videos, personalized PDFs and personalized images are built from templates, where you’ll define the fields to be personalized automatically.
- Creating the personalized content, automatically: The personalized content can be created automatically, using automations between several services or in a batch mode. An easy way to automate this is by using services like Zapier, which automate tasks between more than 500 apps. For example, by combining Hubspot and Sezion you can automatically create a personalized video for every lead that filled out a web form built with Hubspot, or you can even create specific cadences and include personalized messages during the leads content marketing journey.
Content Personalization Example: Test it Now!
Would you like to see it in action? See what happens after filling out the web form below, which will send you the free eBook “Customer Segmentation, Marketing Automation and Personalization” by email. But there is even more… In the same email you’ll receive a personalized video containing the information provided in the form. In this example I combined a simple web form for WordPress (Contact 7 Form) with Sezion.
Here is the web form (feel free to fill it out to see the personalization in action)
Anatomy of a Personalized Video
Let’s see the anatomy of a personalized video to better understand this concept. Personalized videos are unique videos tailored for and from specific audiences, content or occasions. They are created on the cloud in real-time based on any data source, like for example a submitted form from a lead generation landing page. Videos are created from templates, which define the events and objects to be used to automatically create a unique video. The media objects can be videos, texts, images and audios. Within the Sezion personalized video platform every media object can be a Dynamic Media (those to be personalized using your data source) or Template Media (static media, those that are always the same on every video created from a template).
Creating a Personalized Content Marketing Strategy
Now that you know a little bit more about how personalized content is created, let’s get into the strategy. No matter if you want to create a personalized video, PDF or image, almost the same rules are applied. Just like any marketing activity, you need to define your campaign goals. What will you achieve? Some of the common goals are about lead engagement, sales acceleration and customer onboarding. I’ll focus on video, since it’s one of my areas of expertise and also because video has become the type of content with the best ROI. With solutions like Sezion, creating personalized videos has become extremely easy, since it’s already integrated with more than 500 business apps to create personalized videos using your own data from services like Salesforce, ActiveCampaign or Google Sheets.
Defining your buyer personas will help you determine your creative concept, script, as well as the graphic assets and scenes. Buyer personas are a crucial part of a successful content marketing strategy, specially for sales and marketing efforts. Simple: marketing needs to know who’s heart they are engaging with; sales needs to know to whom they are selling.
Think about your buyer personas’ background, where do they work, what role do they have within their companies, what challenges do they face, their motivations and goals and how they learn new things. For example, if you are a marketing agency targeting local businesses that need SEO consulting, maybe you need a video and creative concept adapted to that specific target audience:
In this last personalized video example Michael requested information about SEO Consulting, but the marketing agency knows that SEO Consulting is also related to Content Strategy and Reputation Marketing, so they automatically customized the video copy to that offering to help Michael better understand their capabilities and related services. But remember: personalized content can go farther than just the name of your lead, and this is also part of your personalized content marketing strategy.
Think about what kind of content to be personalized will help you accomplish your business and/or communication goals. Is it a personalized image displayed in a landing page or a personalized proposal PDF? Then analyse where the lead should view the content. Maybe you are going to include the personalized video URL in the email marketing messages, or maybe you want your lead to open a landing page in order to guide him or her to one specific action after watching the personalized video.
Defining You Own Personalized Content Marketing Strategy KPIs
Everything is related. From the messaging to the creative assets, everything should have specific KPIs. I usually speak to companies that want to create personalized videos with our solution and find that those who know exactly what they will measure are actually able to get a better ROI. Some companies create personalized videos just because they are cool, which is OK, but not enough. Every marketing strategy needs to be based on KPIs that help you launch, measure and iterate with improvements.
Continuing with my last example, what kind of KPIs can you measure for personalized videos? Here you have 7 ideas:
- Conversion Rates: How many sales, consultations, demos… are we able to close when we include personalized videos within our marketing messages?
- Content Engagement: What’s the percentage of time a viewer or a group of them watch a personalized video?
- Click Through Rate (CTR): CTR is the proportion of visitors to a web page who follow a hypertext link to a particular site. But remember you can also add call to actions (CTA) in a video depending on the video player you use. What’s the proportion of leads to a video who follow a CTA link?
- Reduced time on-boarding support: Are you receiving less support tickets because your users better understand something about your product?
- Shortened Sales Cycles: Is the sales cycle shorter when the lead has watched a video?
- Increased engagement: Is the lead getting back to us quicker? Is the lead sharing our content? Is the lead better educated to make a decision?
- Time spent in content: Is the lead spending more time on a page, a pdf or any other content because he or she is watching a personalized video in that content? Is this good for our business goals and conversions?
From a creative perspective, how can you know what kind of personalized content will have the best results? That’s actually hard to tell, but a common technique is A/B testing specific messages, images, videos… and again mesure the results. Also, look at your inbound marketing content inventory to have a better idea on what worked in terms of sharing, time spent in the content and lead generation conversions; it will throw you some really good ideas.
Designing a Personalized Content Template: Personalized Videos
The good thing about working with templates is that you don’t need to deal with them once they have been created. Taking into consideration the data you have already collected or that you will be able to collect will help you know what kind of content the final assets should include as part of the design itself. For example, as mentioned, for a personalized video the Sezion platform allows you to select what media object is a Dynamic Media (personalized field) or Template Media (the same within every video create with a template). This is really important to know, since it will determine the graphic assets that need to be provided.
Here is a personalized video where every text and one image are Dynamic Media or personalized fields:
Here is the same video, without the Dynamic Media to be used to create a personalized video:
As any other creative job, brainstorming is a must. This was one of my favorite “tasks” when I used to work in the creative team of an advertising agency. Then you would work on the rough drafts which will precede the final product. Actually, for personalized videos you should consider all the standard production and creative rules applied to any creative work.
The only difference is that once one template has been created and the data source has been connected to the template (the easiest way will usually be via Zapier or API, you can automatically create one or thousands of videos triggered by your own rules and automation workflows using your existing marketing softwares. The same can be done with other kind of documents like PDFs, Word docs or even PowerPoint presentions using services like WebMerge.
The important thing is to not lose the opportunity to deliver highly engaging content for your audiences (prospects, leads, customers), and increase your engagement while accelerating your sales. In the end is about the frosting, isn’t it?
Have you ever used any type of personalized content? Please let me know how in the comments below or feel free to ask any questions :-).