How to Personalise Your Online Content?

Ever visited a website only to find the content has got nothing to do with your search? You have to sift through several irrelevant posts looking for something that aligns with your core needs as a consumer. 

Now you’re left wondering how did these posts even manage to rank up that high.

While there’s nothing wrong with these posts, it just shows the creator didn’t consider personalising them. 

What’s Content Personalisation?

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Content personalisation or customisation is a content strategy that relies on visitors’ data to deliver relevant content based on their respective preferences, motivations, and interests. 

It ranges from a revolving landing page to a highly targeted call-to-action, based on industry-and-geographic specific segments. 

It’s a user experience hack that serves to connect your audiences with the information they need quickly, thus increasing the chances of them converting. 

Why Content Personalisation?

Content personalisation works for both the marketer and the reader. For marketers, it’s an economically, low-hanging fruit that you can easily exploit to your advantage.

Getting your audience at your virtual door is never enough. Here are related problems you should be prepared to deal with: 

  • Users that are already decided: Turns out, 57% of customers would have already made their decisions by the time they’re contacting your business (source: CEB)
  • 98% of the visitors you get will remain anonymous, which makes it difficult for you to decide which persona they fit in. 
  • You have less than 15 seconds to convince your site visitors to stay. Now try combining that with the three-second load time, and you’re only remaining with 12-seconds to engage with anonymous visitors whose mind is already made up

A better approach would be to try and work with the visitors you already have, the low-hanging fruits as we call them.

Working with already existing leads is economically cheaper compared to the cost of acquiring new leads. 

5 Reasons Personalised Content Drives Sales

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It’s no secret that some of the big companies you know are using content personalisation to drive sales. 

Here are 6 reasons this works:

1# It Overcomes Saturations

The internet is inundated with marketing content. 

It’s everywhere – in your customers’ newsfeed, inboxes, and the videos they watch.

Swiping away, hitting the “skip this ad” button, deleting, and scrolling past a promoted post is now part of our muscle memory. 

For your content to be seen and appreciated by the user, it must scream relevance.

You have to personalise it. That also explains why 63% of marketers are using buyer personas to drive their content. 

Here are a few pointers on what you can do to personalise your website content based on buyer personas: 

  • You can start by building clear and complete buyer/customer personas
  • Identify the longtail keywords that each of the personas is likely to use
  • Determine the platform that each of the personas is likely to use
  • Which content resonates best with each persona? 
  • What’s the best way to communicate with each persona without sacrificing your personality as a brand? What unique style should you adopt?

2# Address Customers Based on Where they are in the Buyer’s Journey

Each group of customers has its own unique needs and preferences, depending on their interests, demographic, and interests. 

Their needs can also vary depending on what stage they’re in the sales funnel.

While this can be a challenge to some marketers, it should come as an opportunity to reach out to your target audience with truly personalised content.

For example: 

  • Content about your company’s value and history will resonate well with your upper funnel customers.
  • You can target your brand loyalists and power users with detailed tips, pointers, and techniques.
  • You can share demo videos and how-to content with low-funnel customers or recently converted ones.
  • You can write content about your products and service offerings, as well as their use and strength to target customers at the middle of the funnel.

3# Content Personalisation is the New Standard

Content personalisation might have started as a revolutionary concept, but it’s now grown to become the new standard.

Some of the most successful brands you know are doing it, and customers kind of expect it.

It’s a standard that’s been set by trendsetters.

Now, for your content to be considered relevant, you either have to match this standard or beat it. You have to target your customers’ needs and preferences and meet them if not exceed their expectations. 

Personalisation also works great with sales. You just have to find that perfect hook point to get your customers interested. 

4# Build Connections

The more you personalise your content, the more it’s likely that your customers will want to read them. 

It also goes on to show that you’ve been paying attention to their preferences and needs. You care enough to learn and understand their needs. 

That way, your customers will have an easy time connecting with your brand – the first step to building brand loyalty. 

5# Strikes a Chord with Your Target Audience

Customers expect your content to cover your products and services, especially the further they get into your conversion funnel.

The problem with most marketers is that they fail to narrow down to the specifics and instead focus on publishing generic recommendations, which customers find relatively meaningless. 

Here’s the thing: your recommendation should be based on your understanding of your audience’s needs. 

So, how can you make personalised recommendations that are more likely to lead to sales?

Well, you can start by producing well-written content, high product value, and great visuals. On top of that, here are a few resources that you may find helpful: 

  • Canva: a great tool for editing your visual content
  • While smokes: a grammar and spelling checking tool
  • Animaker: Creates animated videos
  • Photo Collage: a great tool for creating compelling posts using picture collages
  • Great tool for designing infographics

3 Prime Examples of Content Personalisation

So, how are companies using content personalisation to impact conversions?

Here are three examples of such companies:

1# Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has one of the simplest content personalization strategies. All they wanted was to gain more members.

So, they came up with a strategy that involved pinpointing the geographic regions with the zoos that people frequented the most. 

They’ll then go on to target these people, sending them relevant information about the zoos within their respective locations. 

2# Paper Style

Paper Style had a simple segmentation strategy. 

They started by creating two segments: one for the bride to be and the second one for the friends of the bride. 

They’ll then proceed to send the customers in each segment relevant email content. 

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In doing so, they managed to increase their click-through rate (CTR) by 161% and their email-generated revenue by 330%. 

3# Doggyloot

Doggy loot managed to boost their CTR by 759% doing nothing but personalizing their opt-in process.

They would start by asking their subscribers about the size or breed of their dogs during the opt-in process. 

They would then use this information to customise their email content and send out relevant product recommendations. 

4# Aveda

Aveda is a globally known beauty brand with a strong online presence. In its quest to provide the best user experience, the brand has been matching its products to specific user concerns. 

Most of the time, consumers don’t even realise what their concerns are. In the case of Aveda, their consumers couldn’t even tell whether their skin was dehydrated or dry. They couldn’t even tell why they found their scalp irritable. 

Was the itchiness normal? 

For customers that visited their store, they had a consultant that would take a look at their skin and advise them on what to do or but. 

But things were a bit hard for those shopping with them online? 

To prevent them from buying a wrong product or abandoning their site altogether after failing to find a suitable product, Aveda came up with a series of quizzes that helped them to dig into the root cause of their customers’ problems and advise them accordingly. 

5# Petal & Pup

Petal & Pup is a well-known online fashion ecommerce store. It’s a small company, with limited resources and a relatively small team. But this didn’t stop them from deploying one of the successful content personalisation campaigns. 

The first thing you’ll notice when you land on their website’s homepage is the personalisation tactics they have used. 

For instance, they have an option for searching their website using voice control.

This is particularly important for those browsing with their mobile devices, or after you’ve established your shoppers prefer it that way. 

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Another easy-win personalisation tactic they use is currency. Although their offices are in Brisbane and Los Angeles, they sell globally. Their website can even recognise visitors and convert the price into their respective local currencies. 

The Current State of Content Personalisation

Content personalisation has come a long way.

Today, it’s widely adopted as a marketing strategy, with 92% of marketers reporting its usage in some way. 

Content Personalisation in the Different Channels

How to Personalise Your Online Content? 1

The 92% of marketers that use content marketing were asked to reveal where they use it, and this is what they had to say:

How to Personalise Your Online Content? 2

As a marketer, it would be best to think about user experience (UX) as a whole. 

Remember: your customers are interacting with your brand at multiple interaction points, not just one. 

For the content you deliver, you want to make sure you’ve incorporated personalisation throughout the entire customer’s journey. The point is to try and make it as engaging as possible. 

To get it right, you must begin by first understanding the difference between content personalisation and Web Personalisation.

Content Personalisation Isn’t the Same as Web Personalisation

Content personalisation is dynamic in the sense that it automatically changes user content based on a series of segmentation variables and other data-driven signals. 

It can work with product promotions (social, emails, etc.). The goal is to drive the right set of eyeballs to relevant content experiences or the right product listings.

Now imagine a situation where your content is the only dynamic thing. The content changes, but everyone who clicks on it arrives at the same static webpage. 

The chances are that lots of your users will be disappointed. That’s why web personalisation is of the essence here. 

So, as your content changes, so should your website presentation. 

What’s Website Personalisation?

Website personalisation is the process of changing your website presentation in real-time, based on your user’s past interactions and preferences. 

So, after they receive personalised content that matches their online experience, their website experience will also change to match their needs and guide them through the conversion funnel. 

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A classic example of a brand that’s perfected this strategy is Amazon. Every customer that visits their website views a personalised homepage, based on their previous shopping experiences and browsing history. 

Also, international shoppers automatically get to view the products in their native currency and language. 

Four Methods of Content Personalisation

Here are four different methods of content personalisation or four different ways to implement it.

1# Content Segmentation

This is the most popular type of content personalisation, currently used by more than 68% of marketers out there.

How to Personalise Your Online Content? 3

Segmentation enables marketers to target audiences using variables such as job title, industry, department, gender, age-range, geography, and more. 

Audiences can also be targeted based on their online behaviour, preferences, interests, and their past interactions with your business or brand. 

While segmentation strives to solve the issue of relevancy, it’s limited to the level that your content has to appeal to the entire group or segment. You cannot go further than that, unless otherwise. 

2# Personal-based Personalisation

You can take segmentation further down by narrowing it down to individuals. 

With this option, you have to generate personas and produce content that specifically targets them. 

As the name suggests, person-based segmentation is where you segment your content based on the characteristics, interest, and preferences of each persona – whether anecdotal or data-driven.

You can also segment this content based on their website activities, demographics, and purchase history. 

As you increasingly gather more data, you can always refine your persona and make your content even more relevant. 

This is especially helpful for account-based personalisation where you’ll be engaging with specific accounts. 

3# Customer Journey-based Personalisation

This personalisation option involves sending out content based on where your customers are in the buyer’s journey. It involves creating customer journey maps and structuring your content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

As a marketer, all you have to do is align your content to its respective stage in the buyer’s journey.

This allows you to deliver personalised content relating to the customer’s phase in the buyer’s journey. It also ushers them to the next stage, where they’re more likely to convert. 

For example, the post-click landing page (in the customer awareness stage) should focus on warming up your customers with soft sales and free resources, instead of being overly promotional. 

4# Individual-specific personalisation

All the three personalisation methods we’ve mentioned work great. The problem is that they all focus on broad audiences. 

Yet, advertisement as we know it has evolved from one-size-fits-all solutions to personalised customer experiences.

It doesn’t favour someone who targets customers as a group, but someone that target them at an individual level. 

The best way to offer personalised experiences is to break down your customers into a segment of only one and optimise them in real-time. 

Remember, you only have a small window of opportunity in which to get a potential customer to act on their need. 

Also referred to as individual-specific personalisation, this type of personalisation focuses on preferences and actions tied to specific customer identities. 

Individualisation is enabled through a series of technologies, including AI and machine learning.  

5 Key Types of Content Personalisation

Now that you know what content personalisation is and the different ways to approach it, let’s now break down the different types of content personalisation. 

1# Interactive Quizzes

Interactive quizzes are common on social media. Used right, they can make an excellent content marketing strategy.

They’re interactive in the sense that users get to personalise the content that’s been presented to them.

We can pluck a page out of BuzzFeed’s Quizzes. For the longest time, they have been using them on their sites and all their sponsor’s sites in trying to understand their users better.

Here are few tools that can help you create interactive quizzes for your site and social media:

  1. Interact
  2. Involve. me
  3. Outgrow
  4. Riddle
  5. Lead Quizzes
  6. Type Form

2# Retargeted Social Media Ads

Social media platforms (especially Facebook) have advanced enough to send personalised content to your site’s visitors based on how they have interacted with your content.

You can even run ads and narrow them down to a specific audience segment based on different demographics, including location, gender, age, and interests. 

Retargeting allows you to target customers that have interacted with your site before. For example, when someone visits your website, looks at a particular product or service, but exits without making a purchase, you can always use retargeting to displays the same product on the sites they visit until they change up their mind and decide to go through with the purchase process they started. 

3# GPS-based Map Apps

You can track your users based on their geographic locations, thanks to trackable maps. 

These maps allow you to reach users based on specific interest – for example, those looking for a Chinese restaurant within their locality, or the best hiking places. 

They can also be generalised on day-to-day maps, where you target customers that come within a particular mile radius from your business.

Google Maps have grown in popularity and now command an active usage of 1 billion people per month. In addition to providing directions, it offers suggestions on the nearest eateries, watering holes, shops, gas stations, and so on, based on location and interests. 

4# Gamification

Most companies nowadays use interactive games to collect consumer data. 

The information you collect is meant to help you understand your customers better and get them to engage with your brand. 

It’s a fun way to collect consumer data, especially since people enjoy playing these games. The point is to try and get users to start associating your brand with enjoyment.  

We can pluck a page out of SEMrush’s gamification strategy. Here are a few of the fun games they have managed to create over the years: 

5# Personalised Emails

You can segment your email audience based on interests, stage in the customer’s journey, location, and so on, and target each segment with specific campaign messages. The more tailored your content is the more it’s likely to drive more consumers to your site.

This is a common strategy with Spotify, a well-known music streaming site that sends relevant emails to users to encourage them to sign up with them.

The company has tons of information about their users’ music preferences, and which they use to personalise their playlists and offer music suggestions via email.

How to Create an Effective Email Voice and Tone Guide for Brand Success

They usually send each user a personalised Weekly Playlist based on the music they listen to or happen to have liked or disliked. 

This is their strategy for re-engaging with users and getting them to sign in to the app again. 

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6 Innovative ways to Personalise Your Content

Sold on the idea of personalising your content?

Well, here’s your chance to start creating dynamic content. 

The three factors to get you started are:

  • Knowing your audience 
  • Configuring the individualised sites
  • Iterating

1# Knowing Your Target Audience

This is the first step and the most important part of the whole process. You have to take your sweet time to research, analyse, and collect all sorts of data on your target audience.

The more information you have the more you’ll be able to appropriately segment them.

It turns out, out of the few companies that don’t personalise their content, 53% chalk it up to lack of data. The only way to make it to the upper echelon of companies that leverage personalised content is by embracing data. 

You can start by focusing on the following key components when tracking your audiences’ data. Each piece of the puzzle is an important data point to help you personalise your customers’ experiences:

Technological Data: Find out what browser or devices your customers or prospects are using to access your site. Are they using Mac, Windows, or are they accessing it using multiple devices? Bear in mind that chromes users are different from Firefox ones, and so are those accessing your site from a mobile or desktop devices. 

It goes beyond creating good user experiences on these platforms and devices, but understanding what could potentially drive someone to use a particular browser or device and not the other. If it’s a Mac user, for example, you can tell that users prefer sophistications, and so on.

Demographic Data: Demographics focus on the structure of your target audience. It covers such things as age, sex, race, marital status, occupation, or industry. 

website design banner

It’s where you break down your audience on a common ground. The more granular you get, the more targeted your campaign will be. 

Find out if your audience has kids, if they rent or own a house, and how much money they make per month. If you can’t figure out how to directly collect this information, then you could collect it from a provider such as Full Contact or Clearbit. 

Contextual Data: Contextual data focuses on the customers’ current situation when they visit your website. What browser are they using to access the site? Where are they browsing your site from? Are they new or returning visitors?

What’s their source of traffic? And which site are they referred from? 

Behavioural Data: Behavioural data focuses on how your site’s visitors are interacting with your website. Are they browsing your product plans? What CTA are they clicking on the most?

Do they read your blog posts? Download your eBook?

You need to start by creating a system that can help you understand your site’s visitor better. 

  • Find out how many employees the company has employed
  • What’s the company’s industry or sub-industry
  • What technology is the company using? 
  • Where is the company or your site’s visitor located?
  • Do visitors read your product plan page? If so, which product pages do they read?

2# Generate Customer Personas

Once you’ve collected enough data, the next thing you want to do is choose how you’re going to segment your audiences. 

This should inform you how to customise your site content.

Start with the obvious – like segmenting your audience based on factors such as age, location, gender, interest, pain points, and income. 

You can also segment them based on their shopping habits, like frequency of buying, already purchased, first time buyers, not-yet purchased, and so on. 

You also want to find out how they respond to incentives. What information do they need to make a decision? And much more.

You can create personas by digging into current demographics, as well as the firmographics of current customers. 

You need to understand your customers’ needs and challenges. Building these up is important because it helps you create clear roadmaps on how to meet their needs.

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It also feeds directly into your content creation process 

Note that you need a library of content to meet the needs of each group. 

Content Examples for Each Group

Awareness Interest Consideration Closed
Blog Article Thought Leadership How-to Articles
Case Study Customers’ success stories
Demo Live walkthrough
Discussion Trending topics How-to articles
Event Networking events Educational events Industry conferences Customer conferences
Guide Trending topics How-to and educational content
Holiday Greetings General greetings General greeting  General greetings And thank you for being a customer
Infographics Fun Informative and educational

After gaining some clarity on your personas, the next thing would be to refine the custom messages you show to both new and existing customers. 

3# Map Out Your Content 

Creating custom content is not enough. You need to map out this content to the specific needs and interests of your target audience. 

Without mapping it out, then it’s likely your content will not be viewed or shared. 

As a marketer, it’s your job to identify which content addresses a specific need of each persona. 

You’re to then map out this interest using a diagram. 

Your content library must map out your content based on the buyer’s lifecycle. 

What content will your buyers be most interested in? What content would be most effective in nurturing them further down your conversion funnel?

What triggers content deployment? For example, an ecommerce site that sells cookware might want to target users that searched for cake pans. 

These users might be interested in reading about cake recipes or a stand mixer that might help them prepare the batter effortlessly. 

4# Create Personalised content 

The main reason for creating personalised content is to deliver on your original objective. 

An obvious example is an email. 

According to the president of dotmailer (a popular email marketing automation tool), relevant emails drive 18X more revenue than broadcasted ones. 

Ecommerce emails have become personal. With an email marketing tool such as MailChimp, you can send personalised email messages on WordPress or Shopify based on what the customer viewed or liked.

You can even target customers that abandoned your cart. 

Note that email marketing isn’t only limited to your customers. It still holds when you’re promoting your content or looking to partner up with journalists, influencers, and bloggers. 

5# Personalise Your Customers’ Experience, Not Just Content

Experience personalisation is the practice of altering your website or mobile application based on the individual behaviour of your users. 

It goes beyond personalising your email content to tailoring the entire website experience to match your customers’ past behaviour.

Meaning, different customer personas get to see different content, sales messages, and offers, crafted to specifically appeal to each group. 

For instance, you may tag the people inside a company’s CRM based on the content they consume, or using the information they gathered to tailor their future email, web, and sales content.

6# Build Psychographic Profiles

Now that you know what type of content your audience would like to read and see, it’s time to take the personalisation to a whole new level.

To create more relevant and personalised content, it’s helpful to create psychographic profiles of the different customer segments. 

A company that appears to have perfected this whole act is Subaru. 

While it seems like a lot of car manufacturers try to target customers purely based on demographic, Subaru goes the extra mile by finding like-minded individuals sharing the same interests as the passion they have. The point is to try and strike a common ground that transcends demographics. 

So, what exactly is psychography?

Well, psychography can be defined as the practice of studying your customers’ behaviour based on their psychological characteristics, particularly their attitudes, desires, motivations, and values. 

So, what do You collect psychographic data? 

Here are a few simple ways to collect psychographic data:

  • You can collect the data from your customers’ focus groups
  • You can follow up with the customer when talking to them or when they interact with your customer service team or when you interview them. 
  • You can talk to your sales team or product matter experts to find out what makes your customers tick at the different stages of their lifecycle. 

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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