Personalizing content is one of the most effective ways to increase engagement. In fact, 72% of customers will only engage with personalized messaging*. Here, we explore what content personalization is, why it matters, and how you can get started today.
Content personalization is no longer a nice-to-have for businesses looking to deliver a remarkable experience to their audience, it’s a need-to-have. After all, 72% of customers say they will only engage with personalized messaging and 63% of consumers say they won’t buy from brands that have poor personalization.
In the past, the work involved to customize emails based on variables such as user behavior, engagement, or demographic data was relegated to technically-savvy enterprises using marketing software integrated with CRM and big data technology.
Today, it’s a different story. Businesses that have smaller teams, less technically skilled staff, and more modest budgets can now take advantage of personalization thanks to marketing personalization software such as Ortto.
Marketing automation removes much of the repetitive and mundane tasks involved in executing a personalized content approach, but Ortto takes it one step further, unifying customer data in one platform to ensure the entire customer journey is tracked. This means personalization takes all of your audience’s actions into account — not just those that a siloed marketing automation platform collects.
In this blog, we’ll explore what content personalization is, why it’s important, and just some of the ways you can use Ortto to personalize content and deliver the kind of experience that wows your audience.
What is content personalization?
Content personalization takes data from known and anonymous visitors to deliver content that is relevant to the individual’s interests and motivations. The most common application of content personalization happens in email marketing (77% of marketers that use personalization do so in email) where audiences can be segmented based on a set of variables that may include:
Age or birthday
Industry or role at company (B2B)
Website or app activity
Purchase or browsing history
In the best examples of personalization, the user’s content experience will flow through to their website experience where product recommendations, location, and transaction history will inform the content the customer sees when they click through on that personalized email, SMS, or social advertisement. This requires building dynamic content sections within the website.
12 content personalization statistics
Let’s face it, sometimes numbers speak louder than words. These content personalization statistics show just how important content personalization is, both for the experience you can deliver to your customers and the results you’ll generate on email and beyond.
80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience (Slideshare)
90% of U.S. consumers find personalized marketing content somewhat to very appealing. (Statista)
67% of consumers think it’s important for brands to automatically adjust content based on current context. When brands don't adjust accordingly, 42% of consumers will "get annoyed" that content isn’t personalized. (Adobe)
83% of shoppers would exchange data for a more personalized experience. (Accenture)
About two-thirds (63%) of digital marketing leaders say they continue to struggle with personalization (Gartner)
While 84% of marketing leaders say AI and machine learning enhance the ability to deliver real-time, personalized experiences, only 17% of them are using this technology broadly across the marketing function (Gartner). Marketers can overcome this issue with a CDP and marketing automation solution that is underpinned by AI.
Emails with personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened. (Invesp)
Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates (Instapage)
When only subject line is personalized, emails have an average open rate of 7.4% and a click rate of .4% (Instapage)
When message only is personalized, emails have an average open rate of 18.8% and a click rate of 2.1% (Instapage)
The ability to segment email lists and individualize email campaign messaging are the most effective personalization tactics for 51% and 50% of marketing influencers respectively (Instapage)
88% of US marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization — with more than half seeing a lift greater than 10% (Evergage)
Types of personalized content marketing
Many businesses will be using all of these personalization techniques in their content, selecting the right type based on the data they have available, the channel the content appears on, and the kind of message they are sending.
By far the most popular type of personalization, being used by 68% of marketers (Instapage). With segmentation, the more data you have available in one platform, the more specific you can make your segments, and the more specific your content can become.
TAXIBOX, a mobile storage provider, uses Ortto to cut through different data types and create hyper-specific segments. For example, when Melbourne went into lockdown, they were able to find audience members who lived in Melbourne and had created a quote for an interstate move, viewed the interstate moving page as a known contact, or started and not completed a booking that was an interstate move in the past 30 days. This segment received an email confirming that TAXIBOX was still operating through lockdown, and could handle a contactless interstate move.
On a more basic level, segments can comprise of demographic and interest-based information. For example, a segment of females who are interested in fitness could be targeted with social ads about an ecommerce brand’s sale on women’s activewear.
Customer journey based personalization
This kind of personalization sends your audience marketing messages based on where they are in the customer journey. One of the most common examples of customer journey-based personalization is the Welcome email series.
Let’s say your customer has just signed up for your newsletter. They’ll be entered into a Welcome playbook that automates a welcome email, as you see in the Who Gives a Crap example below, as well as relevant follow-up messages that are time or action-based.
With Ortto, building customer journeys is as easy as drawing on a whiteboard. You can easily set up custom actions, built-in actions, or time-based triggers and compose and design relevant content with email templates that adjust based on your brand book specifications. We also offer AI assistance to help you craft subject lines that are more likely to get opened.
Individual-specific content will include dynamic content sections that will adjust based on the actions the individual has taken. This happens in real-time, and therefore requires machine learning and AI technology to aggregate and analyze customer data and act on it.
One common example is the abandoned cart email using dynamic content. Ortto’s email builder uses a webhook to dynamically adjust the products that appear within an email, allowing you to show the individual the exact products they left in their cart, and make recommendations on other things they might like.
One-to-one personalization can also be used to make customers aware of discounts and offers on the products they already buy or are more likely to buy. These emails may be sent at the same time (e.g. once a week or once a month), but the content inside will vary depending on the individual’s preferences.
For example, in the Flybuys email below, I am being targeted with specific products based on a wealth of data Flybuys has on my shopping habits (we’re big fruit and veg people over here) and my content consumption habits. They’ve also provided a couple of new-to-me products in the meat alternatives and I can hazard a guess this is based on the fact that I buy tofu at least once a week.
Getting started with content personalization
Thanks to technologies like marketing automation, AI, and webhooks that exist in platforms like Ortto, content personalization is both simple and scalable. Get started today by following these steps:
1. Unify your data in a CDP
Customer data is typically pulled from several platforms and data silos including your website, app, CRM (for example, Salesforce), hosted landing pages, and customer service software.
If you’re currently relying solely on your CRM for customer data, your personalization efforts will be limited and the customer experience you deliver simply will not stay ahead of the curve.
A customer data platform (CDP) and marketing automation solution like Ortto will give you the ability to collect more data points and subsequently segment audiences and personalize messages on a more granular level.
“Setting up a centralized customer-data platform (CDP) to unify paid and owned data from across channels is essential to [personalization] efforts. Unlike traditional CRM solutions, CDPs provide built-in machine-learning automation that can cleanse internal and external data, connect a single customer across devices, cookies, and ad networks, and enable real-time campaign execution across touchpoints and channels. The best ones are also easy to use.” - McKinsey, 2019
2. Enrich your data
Data is the reason why personalized marketing is possible in the first place — and the more data you have on your customers, the more personalized your marketing will be.
Unfortunately, creating overly detailed registration pages or long contact forms is more likely to send visitors packing than to increase your chances of gaining the data you need. At this stage of the journey, these customers are new to your brand and you’ll need to spend time building a relationship with them first.
Try asking fewer questions, to begin with. Then consider integrating a market intelligence tool such as Clearbit which enriches data using 100+ reliable firmographic, demographic and technographic attributes.
Alternatively, you can proactively go out and enrich your data. When you craft an email to your contacts, think about asking them a question. When they click on an answer, Ortto will collect their response using UTM parameters, adding it to the customer’s profile. You can then use this data to craft your next email — or even a personalized customer journey.
3. Build customer segments
Now that your data is unified and enriched, you can start to build targeted audience segments based on specific attributes, interests, website activities, and purchases or subscription information.
Creating and targeting specific segments may initially take some time, but doing so will result in higher open rates and happier customers.
And, remember, in Ortto building highly targeted segments is as simple as selecting a few filters. Consider how you can tap into specific events or holidays and target special offers or reminders to a specific group of people, just like TAXIBOX did when Melbourne went into lockdown.
4. Follow content personalization best practice
With your segments ready, follow these best practice tips to ensure your content really lives up to that personalized status.
Use real first names using merge tags or personalization variables in your marketing automation software
Personalize email content based on the users’ history or behavior. The way you’d talk to a brand new user would be different to the way you’d communicate with a happy customer who has used your product for several months;
Limit each email to 2 or 3 personalizations: Yes, personalization is great — but you also don’t want to creep your contacts out by getting too personal;
Personalize the subject line: Messages with personalized subject lines generated more than double the unique click rate and 58 percent higher click-to-open (CTO) rate than emails without personalization in their subject lines (Yes Lifecycle Marketing)
Personalize the “from address”: Addressing an email from a lead owner, account owner, customer success manager, community manager, or CEO adds a personal touch and drives higher open and response rates.
Protect customer privacy: while the need for customer data is real, it should never outweigh the need to protect your customer’s privacy. Ensure your company is following GDPR and other data privacy laws and limit the processing of personal data to what is necessary, protect against theft, and grant customers the right to remove their data.
The final word
This is really just the beginning of what personalization has to offer. In the near future, offline person-to-person experiences will be digitized with AI-powered experiences, giving an even more complete look at the customer journey online and off. As AI develops, it gets better and better at reading and reacting to emotional cues. More sophisticated algorithms can already pick up when someone is ill (like Amazon’s Echo device) and offer recommendations based on this insight. In short, the future of personalization is end-to-end.
If all that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s likely that your company already has all the data it needs to get started right away. Switching to a platform like Ortto will ensure you are able to unify and organize that data with ease, then it’s just about identifying a problem that content personalization could solve (increasing new customer conversions or increasing customer’s lifetime value) and getting started. Soon enough you’ll start seeing results and gaining crucial lessons.