4 Types of Content Personalization

by Marissa Sternberg, Senior Director of MarketingOct 2, 2018

4 Types of Content Personalization

Personalization can take many forms. In the most basic sense, it’s including the customer’s name in the subject line of an email. It can also take the form of recommended products based on browsing history or an adjusted website navigation based on customers’ interests. These are the types of experiences that consumers have come to expect, so much that 74% report getting frustrated when they receive irrelevant content from a brand.

There’s nothing quite like personalization for having a powerful impact. When you visit a company’s website, for example, you want an experience that speaks to you, as if the brand is a loyal, trusted resource. And you reward those brands—48% of consumers spend more when the experience is personalized.

There are many types of personalization businesses can leverage to drive deeper engagement with customers. To help you determine which type is appropriate for your marketing organization, here we break down four categories of personalization and the benefits and challenges with each approach.

1. Segmentation

This is the most popular type of content personalization and arguably the easiest. You can target by industry, by department, by job title, by benefit, by geography, by behavior, and more. To scale your efforts efficiently, write a base piece of content where 80% of the content is the same, but then create customized versions for each of your various segments.

While segmentation helps you increase the relevancy of your emails and website experience and improve general engagement, the downside is that this level of personalization is limited in order to ensure your content appeals to the entire segment of people.

Additionally, segmentation is resource intensive. There’s a limit to how many segments you can set up, which also limits your ability to optimize. And since content delivery is based on campaign management time, segmentation also limits your ability to deliver content in real time, thereby limiting its relevance to users.  

2. Persona-Based Personalization

Many organizations will rely on personas, or representations of their target buyer or customer, to generate content and inform the direction of their editorial strategy. A persona-based personalization strategy involves segmenting content by persona, or the characteristics of each persona.  

Personas can be anecdotal or more data-driven and based on insights such as website activity, purchase history or demographics. As you collect more data more over time, you can refine each persona, or segment, to further enhance your personalization efforts. But in order to scale the creation and optimization of data-driven personas, you need a way to collect and analyze customer data in real time.

3. Personalization Based on the Customer Journey

In general, customer journey maps are necessary to evolve broad-based content into individualized content that’s relevant to each step in the journey. Your map should address which audiences you focus on and at which stage.

Another approach to personalization is to align your content to each step in the customer journey map. In this way, you are delivering content in a highly contextualized manner directly related to their phase in the journey, hopefully helping them progress to the next step. However, similar to to the persona-based and segmentation approach, you need customer data to define each stage-specific segment based on consumer behavior and insights.  

4. Individual-Specific Personalization (or Individualization)

While the three methods above are all approaches to personalization, they are all based on delivering content to broad segments of contacts. The reality is that customers no longer accept one-size-fits-some content experiences, even if they are bucketed into a customer-specific segment.  

The only way to truly personalize the customer experience in a way that aligns with specific consumer expectations is by personalizing to a segment of one, also known as individualization. For true personalization to occur, content must unequivocally be targeted to each person’s unique interests through an individualization strategy.

To achieve individualization, marketers should deliver content experiences to a segment of one, optimized in real-time based on the actions and preferences inextricably tied to that specific customer’s identity. With machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) based tools, you can instantly analyze all available content, along with real-time and historical signals, to deliver the most optimal piece of brand content to each visitor in the moment.

OneSpot uses machine learning to instantly analyze all available content, along with real-time and historical signals, to deliver the most optimal piece of brand content to each visitor in the moment. Click here to learn more about machine-learning-powered individualization to deliver the right content at the right time.

Marissa leads marketing at OneSpot.