Content Personalization: Why, What and How?

A long time ago, in 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay named “Content is King”, Heath Evans remembered us in his article on Medium:

Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, (…). I expect societies will see intense competition – and ample failure as well as success – in all categories of popular content – not just software and news, but also games, entertainment, sports programming, directories, classified advertising, and on-line communities devoted to major interests.

There is little doubt about the validity of Bill Gates’ prediction. Since its momentous inception, the online content not only has injected new vitality into the various discourses, but it is also continuing to enhance marketing around the world. Content is the battlefield where companies compete online, and their expectations have changed as well, as we assist to an increasing need for flexible and particular mindset approaches of the online environments:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action (states the Content Marketing Institute founded by Joe Pulizzi in 2010).

Consequently, nowadays marketing relies on the pillars of the valuable and useful content. This is what makes the difference between content marketing and other types of marketing.

Content Personalization

As you know, personalization is a process when a system tailors itself to users’ behavior. You may say “OK, but the content is not a system. Content is not a machine. How do I personalize my content to meet my prospects’ behavior, characteristics, needs? Is there any way to personalize my content?

Yes, it is.

Think of the way you are sending messages – email campaigns, the content you use in them. Do you create the subject according to your prospects age and interests? Do you address them by your user’s first name? Do you adapt your content tone? Do you give your customer the opportunity to be the first to learn about your offers, based on his/her needs? What about personalizing display ads?

Consider some ideas to optimize your website and/or app, using content personalization:

Content tone

Adapt the content tone with your brand. Which is the suitable tone you should use when talking to your prospects? Be exact on what you want your customers to do.

Suggestion: If you are a provider of entertainment, educational, services for household consumers, then use a polite but direct tone. If you are a B2B provider, use a polite (but not an overly polite) tone, with a professional touch.

Context

Provide more context, using a language everyone understands. Tell your prospects about how you can help them with what you are doing (a blog post, a video, a podcast, slide presentation). Be with them through their journey on your website or app, giving them what they want, using a tailored content. Don’t wait for your prospects intuition. Explain the terms you are using, the products and the services you are offering. Kindly recommend your visitors what they are looking for.

Suggestion: If you are a retailer and you saw that your prospect is searching for cheese, you could show him/her an article or a blog post or a video with something about cheese (whether it is about your cheese section, or how one of your providers makes cheese, etc.). Then you can recommend an offer of cheese from your store.

Humanising content and focusing on the facts content (B2B)

Is your content friendly to users? No matter if you are addressing the average consumer or a business client, create content talking to them like to a friend you want to help in achieving the goal. Use humor when needed, consider self-deprecation because no one is perfect and engage in conversations with your visitors. Ask them of what they want. By doing this, you will learn how to help them better.

Suggestion: If you are providing some services or products, consider showing the people behind the scenes in a video or a blog post about an executive.

Word count in creating content

Less is almost always more, as you know. Especially when it comes to selling things.

Suggestion: If you are in B2B, education, news sectors for instance, first of all, create valuable and useful content rather than count the words.

Frame the content

Did you ever think to connect specific events, holidays, and activities with the content you are creating? Take advantage of it.

Suggestion: Add a calendar with specific days and tie the content with it. Tell about it to your prospects, based on their behavior, using push-notifications
.

Content colors

The design part of the content is about what colors we choose, for each situation. Think of your website or app overview and act accordingly.

Suggestion: Use contrast colors to highlight links, headlines, and parts of content you want to show to certain users.

Content is even about photos or videos

First, use photos you identify with – as a marketer, as a business, as a product, as a service. Second, correlate them with the product or services you create content for. Stock photos and use them smartly.
Create videos having in mind what the user wants and pursue your goal in making him do what you want.

Content on selling has a particularity

What if you don’t have or sell some products (or maybe your stock is empty, and those products are no longer manufactured)? Suggest your customer go to a competitor, which provides products almost as good as yours (a one you respect for what he does).

What if you made a mistake? Apologize. Tell your customer you are sorry and even make an offer. This could be hugely trust building.

But there is more on content personalization if you want to reach your goals in increasing conversions.

Recommender Systems

Using personalization tools, like Recommender Systems, can help you with content personalization as follows:

  • Your mobile or web app visitors may receive a tailored content, guiding them with messages to recommended (or offered) items, based on their online behavior and interest.
  • Your visitors may interact with your mobile/web app if you highlight them different versions/elements of a single piece of content, based on their interest.

While Google or Bing are information retrieval systems, and partially deal with the information overload challenge, there still is an information personalization and prioritization problem. So using recommender systems becomes a necessity.

How does it work?

A recommender system is a subclass of information filtering system that seeks to predict the rating or preference a user would give to an item. Recommender systems attempt to deal with the information overload issue by filtering certain meaningful information out of the rest of the dynamically generated data understanding user’s preferences, interest, or observed behavior about an item.

Through this, it provides the user with personalized, exclusive content and service recommendations.

At MorphL we’re actually working on building recommender systems for these two verticals: publishing & eCommerce and you can follow our progress on GitHub: https://github.com/morphl-project 

A publisher (online media) could use the recommender system with a content-based filtering approach. This way it will show visitors content based on what they previously read or searched for. Or it can rely on the ratings of different users (see Facebook “Likes” or “Reviews”). So it can prompt or suggest articles or content of interest to the user.

A big retailer like Amazon can improve its recommendation by using topic diversification algorithms. This is a complex collaborative filtering method which gets through the scalability problems by creating a table of alike items using the item-to-item matrix. After this process, it recommends similar online products in accordance to the prospect’s online history.

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