How to Leverage Content Personalization in Your Content Strategy

Ellie Diamond
Josh Callum
Published: Nov 27, 2023
Last Updated:
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Personalization is one of the hottest topics in marketing, and for good reason. Technology has made it easier for companies of all sizes to access and use consumer data, creating messages that speak to the individual and their experience. 

Consumers are used to this level of personalized marketing, and they've come to expect it. Still, personalization remains an underused strategy in the content marketing world. Many content marketers think of personalization as something for the e-commerce cart — a shopper clicks "buy" and receives a coupon for a related product. 

Content personalization is just as powerful and integrates seamlessly with other forms of personalized marketing. And as data becomes increasingly essential, it's a must-do for brands of all sizes.

What Is Content Personalization?

Content personalization is a marketing process for developing relevant content based on customer behavior. Marketers use collected data to create blog posts, emails, web pages, and other types of content to match users' interests, needs, and pain points. 

Benefits of Personalizing Content

According to surveyed marketers, the most valuable benefits of content personalization include:

  • A stronger user experience
  • Higher conversion rates
  • More visitor engagement
  • Better lead generation and customer acquisition
  • Improved brand reputation

Effective personalization strengthens your customer relationships and bottom line, but missing the mark can make a poor impression.

Common Mistakes in Personalization

Personalization misfires usually result from poor data or an incomplete strategy. For instance:

  • Not segmenting your audience: No one will get genuinely personalized messaging if you target your content to everyone. Separate your buyers into interest groups and develop content for each group's needs.
  • Using inaccurate data: In the age of real-time data generation, it's easy to base your personalization on outdated or incorrect information. Collect as much data as possible and check your personalization engines can access it.
  • Missing opportunities: According to McKinsey & Company, 71% of consumers expect the brands they buy from to know them and their interests. 76% get frustrated when communications don't feel personal.
  • Failing to consider data privacy: Nearly half of surveyed consumers feel they can't successfully protect their data. Of those, 76% find it too hard to learn what companies do with their data. 

Now that you know what not to do, it's time to look at best practices for content personalization.

8 Effective Content Personalization Strategies You Should Know

Content personalization requires an in-depth knowledge of your audience and the ability to translate that knowledge into the right messages. Remember these tips to stay on the right track.

1. Collect and Analyze Data To Segment Your Target Audience

To personalize effectively, you need data and the means to collect it. Marketers often start with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and essential web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics.

These tools power the audience profiling process, which turns raw data into usable descriptions of your target audience. The more detailed these descriptions you have, the stronger your personalization will be.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning let you personalize even more closely. For instance, some predictive AI algorithms will analyze your content marketing campaigns and match each with the correct user persona. If the perfect match doesn't exist, AI tools can break down a target group further, creating additional, more precise personas.

2. Cater Content to Different Stages of the Sales Funnel

Comparison posts and buying guides are ideal for someone in the decision-making stage, but they feel "too soon" for someone just starting to explore solutions. A top-of-funnel piece feels too simplistic for someone who's already exploring solutions.

Sales funnel copywriting helps you personalize content based on readiness to buy. It engages readers based on their needs at a specific journey stage, providing value while encouraging them gently toward the next. 

3. Personalize Campaigns With Zero-Party Data

Customer data falls into four categories, depending on where you source the information and how separated you are from the collection. For example:

  • Third-party data comes from aggregator companies that purchase the data and compile it into a large package.
  • Second-party data comes from a partner or marketplace where you purchase the information.
  • First-party data comes to you through consumer interactions on your owned channels.
  • Zero-party data comes directly from customers or potential customers who purposefully share specific information with a brand.

Zero-party data is a direct and intentional transaction — the shopper provides information in exchange for a more personalized customer experience. You get information you can't get elsewhere, and the customer enjoys a more transparent personalization experience.

4. Implement E-Commerce Web Personalization in Real Time

Web personalization changes what people see on your site based on their behavior. It puts the right offer, product, or interaction before the right person at the right time, maximizing your chances of getting a response. Personalization marketers call this dynamic content.

Unlike static content, which is the same for every user, dynamic content differs for each person and each visit. One well-known example is Amazon's home page, which features deals and products inspired by your browsing history. Other examples include:

  • Pop-up offers geared to the products a shopper recently viewed
  • New-customer discount offers for first-time visitors
  • Personalized upsell or add-on suggestions at checkout
  • Abandoned cart emails, which you can set up to send as soon as someone exits your shop without buying

Effective dynamic personalization starts with a solid segmentation strategy. With audience segments already in place, you can serve more targeted real-time messages.

5. Consider Programmatic Targeting

The rise of machine learning has created new pathways for reaching audiences. One of those pathways is programmatic targeting, also known as programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is a data-driven method for buying digital ads. You submit information about your target audience, goals, and campaigns. The programmatic advertising system runs that information through consumer behavior algorithms. Those algorithms determine where your ads should run for optimal results.

This method automates the otherwise labor-intensive ad-buying process, replacing guesswork with data-driven predictions. It lets marketers focus on creative and strategic tasks, including optimizing ads based on measurable results.

If you do paid advertising, programmatic targeting is a smart addition to your content personalization strategy. It allows you to customize your paid ads more precisely to your target audiences while the programmatic platform matches you with those audiences.

6. Leverage Retargeting Strategies Through Paid Ads

Search retargeting uses personalization tactics to recapture audiences who have searched for your product. These shoppers have shown explicit interest in what you sell. They're also 43% more likely to convert following a retargeting campaign. [SOURCE: ]

Retargeting displays selected ads to users based on the keywords they've used. As the advertiser, you select keywords to track and submit bids to Google or your chosen alternate search engine. Google considers your bids against others retargeting the same term.

For example, suppose you sell children's clothing and want to promote your new line of infant onesies. You want to catch the eyes of people shopping for baby clothing, so you target the keywords "baby clothes" and "onesies." You also add "baby gifts" because some potential buyers won't initially know they want a onesie.

Retargeting puts your ad in front of people searching for those terms. Organic results won't be targeted, so your ad has an advantage by showing people exactly what they want. It's a transparent form of personalization that reaches highly motivated audiences while increasing the payoff on your ad spend.

7. Customize Email Marketing Campaigns for Individual Recipients

Personalization is one of your arsenal's most effective email marketing best practices. It encourages engagement and makes your email campaigns feel more generic, especially when you personalize them at the individual level.

The first step is using segmented email lists, which target campaigns to specific interests or needs. Segmented lists help you personalize all group email blasts, from promotional announcements to your monthly newsletter. 

Automation technology goes further, letting you personalize emails based on shopping behavior. For example, if someone browses a particular product in your online store, that action could trigger an email with a discount code and a product picture. If you have real-time inventory capabilities, you can add urgency by telling the customer there are "only four left!"

Finally, you can use customer data to send special-occasion messages, such as a birthday or "shopper anniversary" coupon. Think of what you can celebrate that singles out the customer positively and appropriately.

8. Use Behavioral Data To Recommend Blog Posts

Recommending relevant content is an effective way of creating valuable personalized experiences for your audiences. And in the age of big data and machine learning, it's easier than ever.

For example, tracking customer behavior tells you which customers have browsed a particular product type. When you release a blog related to that product category or the problem the product solves, you can recommend that post to those customers. 

Segmentation does the job on a fundamental level. Creating customizable content for your newsletter template and adding links to new blog posts with each issue is easy.

Content recommendation engines take this process to the next level, allowing brands to recommend posts based on individual site behavior. For instance, suppose a pet food customer has browsed grain-free dog food and read blogs on what dogs can digest. The next time that customer signs on, your recommendation engine shows them a post about the benefits of a grain-free diet.

Relevance makes blog posts feel more personalized. The next step is creating valuable content that meets readers' needs.

Finding the time to write high-quality blog posts can be challenging, especially when your plate is full. can help with original, expert-written content targeted to your audiences and developed to meet your goals. We'll handle the blog writing so you can focus on personalization.

How To Measure the Effectiveness of a Personalization Strategy

Data-driven personalization shouldn't end when you launch your campaign. It's essential to track the success of your personalization efforts and use that information to adjust your marketing strategy, creating an even better user experience with more effectively personalized content.

The first step is selecting the right content marketing metrics for your strategy. Your chosen metrics should match your web content personalization goals and priorities. For instance:

  • Social engagement: How many people liked, shared, or commented on a post
  • Organic click-through rate: The ratio of people who viewed your content and clicked through to a target page
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of your web visitors who take a selected action, such as joining your email list or making a sale
  • Customer acquisition cost: The cost of a campaign divided by how many customers it converted

Find the most critical metrics for your content personalization goals and track them regularly. Check statistics every time you release a new piece of personalized content and learn which tactics are most or least successful for your audiences.

What Are Some Examples of Successful Personalization Campaigns?

Now that you understand how content marketing personalization works and how to measure it, take a look at some inspiration. These three content personalization examples from major brands are excellent ideas to use as models for your business:

  • Aveda: This natural hair care brand invites web visitors to take an interactive hair quiz, which gives the customer a personalized experience and provides the brand with zero-party data. Aveda uses the results to make personalized product recommendations and deliver customized content.
  • Grammarly: This grammar and usage checker emails each user a weekly analysis of their writing. Grammarly Insights includes stats on word count, number of corrections, and unique words, inspiring users to keep using the tool.
  • Starbucks: The coffee giant creates personalized food and beverage offers using an AI algorithm. The algorithm analyzes consumer purchase data and selects from a library of more than 400,000 hyper-personalized messages to suit each buyer. 

Each campaign adds value and creates a meaningful association for the customer. 


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