Quick quiz: What would you be willing to give up to receive information that interests you?
Chocolate for a month? Your smartphone for a day? Sex?
Sounds crazy, but according to a July 2013 study by Janrain, 25 percent of adults would be willing to give up chocolate for a month to receive content tailored to their tastes.
Twenty-one percent said they would give up their smartphones for a day. And yes, there were people who said they would give up sex to receive information that interests them. Thirteen percent, in fact.
And not just for a day. Nor a week. No. They would give up sex for an entire month.
Think what that says about the pleasure people get out of personalized information — content that adapts to the right person at the right time.
That might seem extreme, but more than anything it suggests people are fed up with irrelevant, banal content that doesn’t address their needs.
Sadly, that message doesn’t seem to be getting through to marketers fast enough.
Personalization increases conversion
According to stats from Econsultancy’s January 2014 Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, more than half of marketers believe personalization is important. But a stubborn (and sizable) 27 percent still believe personalization doesn’t matter.
That’s odd considering the endless number of studies that suggest personalization increases conversion — so many studies, it’s almost safe to call this hypothesis a fact.
Perhaps marketers simply do not understand the technology needed for personalized, automated content. That’s understandable.
As a writer who suffers from Technology Anxiety Disorder, I worry that I’m falling behind the digital times. Yet, I’m prohibited from improving my situation by the stronger, oppressive fear that if I took the technology plunge, I would only royally screw things up and have to hire a developer to fix my problems anyway.
(The Rainmaker Platform is for people like me. And I’m certain I’m not alone.)
What should you personalize?
So far in our adaptive content series, we’ve seen that personalized content is about the entire journey, from start to finish. This is why a customer experience map is so important.
And we’ve also learned that the best way to convert visitors is through a signed-in experience which begins with identifying who is on your site. You can’t personalize anything until you understand who is on your site.
So our next question becomes: What should you personalize? Everything?
No, it doesn’t have to be everything. But as content marketers in an ever-evolving landscape, we should begin thinking about personalizing these eight parts of the content we produce.
1. Website home page elements
Elements on the home page that can be personalized include categories, navigation, and sidebar widgets.
If your home page also serves as a landing page, testimonials and endorsements could be tailored to appeal to particular people.
2. Search results within our websites
The search function within your website could personalize results based upon the words and phrases visitors use in their searches, as well as factors from their signed-in status.
When the search engine recognizes who is using the engine, it can tailor results towards her profile. In particular, it could eliminate items completely unrelated to the user’s needs.
For example, an ad writer searching for copywriting book recommendations may not be interested in book recommendations on SEO (at least not at this stage).
A hook is the specific angle you take in an article or sales letter. For example, in this article, the hook is the sultry stats from the Janrain study. Not always, but the headline and the opening can be built around the hook.
In a personalized content world, that hook would change to reflect people’s needs and interests.
In other words, a different opening (and possibly a different headline) for each persona in your content marketing strategy.
You can tailor the bullets on your landing page to be geared to a particular segment of your audience.
Again, the best way to know who is on your site is through a sign-in process.
5. Landing page offers
Landing page offers often fail because they try to do too much.
By an offer, I mean what people will get from an exchange with you. For example, half off the price when they buy today, or a lavender sweatband for donating.
Ideally, offers should be tailored to specific needs. If you look at the price and planning page for Synthesis, you see four different offers designed to satisfy four different needs.
Keep in mind that when testing offers it’s best to start with two polarizing calls to action. Starting with only two options helps you discover major insights about your customers.
6. Product page recommendations
The experience on Amazon.com is a case study for product recommendations. We all have been exposed to (and you must confess, don’t mind one bit) these recommendations.
There is a reason. They work.
There’s a saying in sales: Strike while the iron is hot.
If I’m looking for a biography on David Ogilvy, it’s more than likely I’ll be interested in other books by or about him, too.
Personalize recommendations, and you’ll make more sales.
7. Post-order email copy
Equally important is all communication that happens after the sale.
Remember, the customer journey doesn’t stop after the credit card has been run. Even after the sale, she is evaluating the experience. And she notices when the personalization ends.
A non-personalized post-shopping-cart experience is likely to make a customer feel used. Continue the personalization, and you will enhance her view of you and your business.
8. Triggered emails
Triggered emails are event-based, time-delayed messages delivered when a user performs a specific action.
Why are triggered emails so important?
An example: A few days after you sign up for their service, HelloFax sends a message to check in on you, their new customer.
Hard data says these personalized emails get 40 percent more clicks than standard newsletters.
In addition, the same data says the number of links inside the triggered email matters; an email with two or three links is more likely to turn into a conversion than an email with just one link.
Enhance the user experience
There is no doubt that personalization enhances the user experience.
And as I mentioned earlier, if you’re struggling to find the technology that enables you to offer a superior user experience, our Rainmaker Platform helps simplify the process of personalization.
And what would you give up in order to receive personalized information that interests you?