By Evan Futterman

In an ever-evolving landscape of analytic and data-driven marketing, how are content creators supposed to know how much to personalize their websites for visitors? Content personalization can take a fair bit of work, usually requiring research into which demographics are interested in their products and services, as well as at what point in the lifecycle stage the visitor is in terms of making a purchase. However, the effort is well worth it: Personalization enhances your inbound strategies, offering website users an experience that feels geared specifically toward them. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when gauging the right level of content personalization:

Start Broad and Get More Specific

Let’s say, for example, that you can break down your customers into different buyer personas and know exactly what lifecycle stage they are in. You may now find that you have a large amount of segments that you must be able to reach out to. Creating all this segmented content could be extremely time-consuming, with the risk that it may not even be effective.

A good strategy for ensuring you are creating content in an efficient manner is to start off broad while collecting data so that you can optimize your content based on the behavior of your visitors. Using a marketing framework such as HubSpot, you can track the behavior of your visitors’ clicks, as well as segment them into categories based on information they provide in form fields. When creating content aimed at a certain demographic segment, don’t get too granular. If your content is extremely specific to a certain market segment, it may not apply to others who are interested in your content but don’t fit neatly into the persona you have identified them to be.

Once you have broad-based segmentation and the ability to collect data based on user behavior, you can become more specific with your content by linking to the more granular content from the high-level content. This ensures you aren’t pushing specific content on users who are still interested in your offerings but not necessarily the segmentation you are offering them.

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Segmenting out content for personalization can be a lot of work. Make sure to appeal to your visitors without simply rehashing information that can easily be found from other sources. When writing your content, offer fresh ideas and provide valuable content. By keeping up on the latest trends in your industry, you will be able to keep engagement high, increase the likelihood of the content being shared, and more likely convert visitors into leads and then, hopefully, customers. In other words, don’t dilute your content as you move from broad to more specific content.

Use Dynamic Content for Testing

If you have the ability to track your website visitors’ behavior with cookies or other marketing tools, introducing dynamic content can help you extend more specific offers in some of your broader content. Using something such as HubSpot’s Smart Content tool can help you test what kind of personalization is actually working to engage your visitors so that you are targeting them accurately. Once you receive some behavior data, you will have a much better idea of how much personalization is really necessary in order to nurture customers into leads and, ultimately, sales.

Don’t Be Overly Personal

Just because the technology exists for extreme personalization doesn’t mean you should become overly personal with your content. Though using a first name to address a user in an email will make it seem more personal, this strategy can definitely be overused.

At a certain point, content can transform from being personalized to the opposite end of the spectrum—it starts to sound like it is completely written by a computer. Part of what makes good content so consumable is that it is relatable to another person who may be in your same situation. People can share the experiences of others who are engaging in open dialogue about the subject matter, but that is difficult if the content seems programmatic and forced upon the visitor.

Content personalization is obviously a powerful concept to target consumer groups, but at a certain point, it can start to seem like blatant advertising, if not somewhat creepy. We’ve all had targeted marketing follow us around the internet on Google Ads, and though that is sometimes effective, in many cases a cautious awareness of the level of personalization you are using will give you a good balance without appearing too intrusive.

Put Your Personalized Content on Display

One way to let people access your personalized content without it feeling too personalized is to advertise content to viewers with links from other articles, in sidebars with images, and in spots across your site where you can temporarily showcase it. This helps eliminate some of the issues of the information seeming programmatic—it instead feels curated and accessible. In this regard, you are making the users aware of the content without forcing it upon them. Obviously, you will want some data to reference in order to see what sort of personalized data has been working for you in the past. Keep links to your content professional, informative, and non-gimmicky. Put yourself in the mind of the user you are trying to write to and ask yourself how you would react when presented with this information.

Get Feedback From Your Visitors

We can look at data and create content that may seem perfect for your visitors, but we can only really know how content personalization is working by getting raw feedback. When possible, try to find easy, non-intrusive ways for your website visitors to give feedback. Feedback can also be a great instrument to keep people engaged much in the same way a comments section on a blog keeps a reader more engaged. Compare the feedback you are getting online with feedback from your sales team, which is often the most engaged with customers. Taking this feedback and supplementing it with your website analytics can give you a more holistic view of how personalized content is or isn’t working for your website.

No matter what feedback you get, always be appreciative and let your visitors and customers know you want to improve their experience when engaging with your company. This is the ultimate personalization that says you are the trusted partner customers can rely on.

How much content personalization do you use on your website?

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Evan Futterman

About the author

Evan Futterman is a front-end developer with experience in internet and digital marketing. With a Business degree in Computer Information Systems, Evan has both the technical and business knowledge to deliver the quality SmartBug Media clients expect. When not doing web development he can usually be found outside exploring the outdoors. Read more articles by Evan Futterman.

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