Have you ever seen an advertisement or encountered a website that spoke to you so thoroughly and specifically that you wondered if the writers had, in fact, crawled inside your brain and siphoned your thoughts without your knowledge? This eerie yet satisfying feeling is the mark of a campaign well done: that a reader and potential customer feels like his or her thoughts and desires are validated and normalized. This kind of connection between consumer or client and the one who produced the piece isn’t magic, but rather a series of complex taxonomic sorting processes. These are a result of a company’s personalization efforts — and increasingly, this kind of tailoring is becoming crucial for companies to engage their audiences online.
Personalization can be enacted in many ways, depending on the needs of your customers and your business. For example, while special company events and conferences lend themselves to certain kinds of attendee personalization, such as customized conference materials, others may be more web-based. Historically, web-based personalization has been hard to nail down, because companies and organizations have lacked sufficient technologies and algorithms — but all of that is changing now, and fast.
How to Personalize Your Online Presence
- Create Personas.
This is a marketing exercise to describe and group your audiences into a idealized imaginary people. This lets you put yourself in the shoes and brain of the different target audiences when you create and target content. To do this you must describe both the interests and characteristics (age, gender, etc.) to help you understand and imagine their interests and responses to content.
- Map Personas to Content Categories or Taxonomies.
Here is where the rubber meets the road on personalization. You match up who the audiences are with the categories of content you create or have online which best matches their interest. While this is purely a marketing exercise, you need to do it keeping in mind which tools you will use to apply it and what the capabilities of those tools are.
- Use Marketing Automation tools to send targeted content.
While marketing automation tools can an expensive proposition, there are ways to lower that cost. These tools allow you to match content to specific audiences based on your personas and information you have about the audiences. You can also do A-B testing. This is a process where you test 2 different pieces.
- Personalize Your Website Content.
Create a strategy to personalize the content your web visitors view.This gets a bit more complicated, but basically you take everything you learned previously and program your website to serve up content based on who is viewing it. You can make guesses at who is viewing your content and which persona they match best by either using a profile from a login in the case of member based organizations or their past behavior in interacting with your content. For instance if they always click on news, they might match a certain type of profile, if they click on a specific category of news, why not show that category right on the home page and engage them immediately when they start their visit?