Guest Blogger Contribution by Rob Howard, founder of the DailyStory.
When it comes to content marketing, what’s the difference between the good B2B content marketers and great B2B content marketers?
Is it the choice of channel? LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Or is it the writing style or the colors of your call to action? You might have even found research on the length of the content or the keyword density.
It’s none of the above.
The real secret to great content marketing is simple: Good B2B marketers know that content is important. Great B2B marketers know that personalized content wins new business.
Below are several tips for how you can begin thinking adding personalization to your content marketing plans.
Personalization requires data. Lots of data.
If you aren’t collecting visitor and customer data now, you should be. Because personalization requires lots of data and this data defines the context of the visitor or customer’s intent.
> Context is the who, what, why, when, where, and how about your prospective customer or visitor.
What do I mean by context and intent?
Let’s look at a simple example: if a visitor walked into a large department store and browsed women’s jewelry this data would indicate interest. But, if the visitor also bought a pair of men’s shoes this new data would create additional context about who this visitor is.
But unlike a department store, you can use your data to shape the digital experience of the visitor through content and email personalization, advertising remarketing, and much more.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon you’ve experienced this firsthand. From personalized email and content to remarketing advertisement that magically follows you as you browse the Internet.
What type of visitor and customer data should you collect? Below are several examples:
- How long have they been a customer?
- Where are they in the customer journey?
- What product pages have they viewed?
- What activities have they participated in, such as a recent webinar or event?
- Are they on social media? If so, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook?
- Is this a business user or a consumer?
- What time zone are they in? And where do they live?
- Where do they work? What is their job title?
Now that you’ve started collecting data about your customers and visitors you need to think about who your customers and visitors are.
One of the best ways to do this is to write personas.
Describe your customers using personas.
A persona is a tool used to describe a category of customer and where they are in the marketing or sales funnel.
Let’s say you run marketing for a B2B software product that helps businesses with the accounting regulations of the Energy Industry.
Below is a potential persona:
Anna is a 35-year-old professional working for a solar energy company. She is very environmentally conscientious and would also prefer to work with US-based vendors. She was previously with a large accounting company and is accustom to being part of large purchasing decisions, but this would her first time as the decision maker. She doesn’t want to make a mistake.
The persona defines several attributes that our content needs to target: environmental concerns, female, US vendors, accounting background, trust.
Once you have several well defined personas you can start thinking about the content.
Personalization requires content.
Notice I didn’t say “Personalization requires lots of content”.
While you do need lots of data, you don’t necessarily need lots of content. What you do need is content that aligns with your target audience’s intentions.
For example, our persona Anna would be interested in content that identifies the business as a US-based company, content that clarifies its environmental focus, content that may be written by other females in the organization, leadership in accounting and so on.
One exercise that we regularly encourage our customers to do is perform a content audit vs focusing exclusively on writing new content. Look across all of you content assets and create an inventory.
Examples of where you may find content:
- Your website, blog and freely accessible content on your website.
- PDFs, PowerPoints and other digital take-away material.
- Videos and images that can be distributed.
- Channels such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Social activities such as online communities, Tweets, and updates.
- Product reviews, press releases, testimonials.
- Emails, text messages, chats and other digital conversations.
- Advertisements shown to visitors through remarketing.
Taking the personas created above, create a simple Excel Spreadsheet that maps personas and their attributes to your existing content.
Now, when you need to write new content. Write content for the gaps in your personas. Not only will you write content that your audience values, it makes content planning much easier.
Create personalized content.
If you’ve completed the recommendations above. Congratulations. You’ve done the difficult work and you are likely light-years ahead of your competition.
The next step is aligning your content with your personas. This can be done manually or dynamically.
Manually segmenting content simply means organizing related content by persona or attribute. Dynamic content personalization does this, but in real time. Because we recommend a crawl-walk-run strategy, you should start manual audience segmentation.
Segment your audience by creating categories on your website that align with the attributes of your persona. You can also segment through advertising, both Google and Facebook have powerful segmentation tools to ensure you are reaching the right people.
Using our example above, we may create content categories such as: Environment, Leadership, Customer Success Stories, Made In America.
> Think of manually segmenting content as audience self-selection. You are creating content segments that fit an audience niche. However, they still must find the content.
Unlike manual personalization, dynamic personalization automatically targets the customer with content based on context and customer attributes.
Using dynamic personalization, the content displayed on your website may change, or may include related content to convert the visitor.
For example, if Anna was reading the “Leadership” content category, she may see highlights written by executives that are female.
Similarly, emails, text messages, landing pages, and advertisements would be dynamically built based on the individual viewing the content. And this is where the real magic happens.
Content personalization is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to using your digital assets to generate new business. And personalized content will help you win new business.
You can read more about personalization on our blog.
Rob Howard is the founder of DailyStory, a digital marketing solutions suite for growing businesses. DailyStory includes all the capabilities to capture visitor and customer data and help you convert visitors into customers. firstname.lastname@example.org