Someone once said about Halloween: "It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright."

Well if the air feels different today for chief marketing officers, CMOs to me and you, these may be the reason. 

1. Integration Continues To Be the Holy Grail

Consumers, in case you didn't know, like to use more than one channel before making a purchase – most notably among these channels? Mobile and social media. And it appears the latter and the integration thereof remains problematic for CMOs. 

According to the most recent CMO Survey, marketing leaders continue to struggle when it comes to integrating customer information, better known as data, across channels including social media. 

The question is why? Why this prolonged futility? Could it be these same marketing leaders are not using the correct martech? Could also explain why that since 2014 nearly 50% of these same marketers are unable to show the impact of social media on their business. That is mind-blowing.

Here's something you should already know: Marketing leaders need to eliminate data silos and create a single source of truth. And they need a 360-degree view of customers to reliably and efficiently target the right message, to the right person at the right time. 

2. IoT Means Increased Data Security

I am a huge proponent of IoT from both a marketing and a consumer perspective. The possibilities from the former are endless but the concerns from the latter are real. Very real. 

From a recent e-Marketer article:

As you can clearly see many consumers around the world are concerned about their data and hacking when it comes to IoT. 

And knowledge of IoT and data is growing. From the article: 

"Interestingly, the survey also found that awareness about security threats to internet-enabled devices actually increased with the age of respondents. For example, 72% of those ages 18 to 24 were aware that IoT devices could be targeted by hackers, but that figure rose to 80% among 45- to 54-year-olds."

The bottom line is that as more and more devices get connected to the Internet the more and more brands and businesses need to up their data security game. Easier said than done for sure but if these brands and businesses want to reap all the benefits of IoT collected data they better be at the ready to guard it with their lives. Their brands lives. 

3. Personalization Remains An Enigma

As per another ubiquitous red and black eMarketer chart, marketers continue to struggle with personalization with lack of resources and data the top of the list. 

if you notice coming in at 14% are tech-related challenges. Forgive me but there's no way this percentage is correct. 

Whether the survey was worded poorly or for some other reason, the martech challenge is significantly higher and more than likely should be rolled up into lack of resources. 

The reason I am so confident lies in the numbers, AKA the over 4,000 different marketing-technology solutions on the market today. 

What's ironic is that with the right martech the challenge of resources – automation anyone? and data would be relieved to some extent. 

The right martech solution creates engagement, orchestrates experiences, connects data, and optimizes online interactions that attracts and retains ideal customers. Moreover the right solution connects cross-channel, content, and social marketing with data management and activation. 

Yeah it really is that simple. 

And Speaking of Simple

Much of the customer experience is broken because the marketing experience is broken. But it’s not marketing’s fault. With legacy technology, marketers only get a distorted view of the customer because data silos cannot be shared across channels.

Download Customer Experience Simplified to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.

Image source: Pexels

Source: Eloqua

Personalized marketing is more relevant, more targeted, and better perceived. That is not only what common sense tells us, but also supported by figures and statistics from many analysts and surveys. What are some examples? Check out the “Five Key Trends in Gartner’s 2015 Digital Marketing Hype Cycle” or the “15 Mind-Blowing Stats About Personalization”. 

What is Personalized Marketing?

Most of us have already had some sort of experience with personalized marketing. There are different use cases with varying degrees of complexity determining how the content of a marketing campaign can be tailored for every individual recipient. The most common scenarios are:

  • Using field merges in emails, letters, and on landing pages
  • Using dynamic content in emails, on landing pages, websites
  • Using targeted content for different Personas
  • Using specific content in different campaign stages

Personalizing Marketing with Field Merges

The most simple use case is certainly to have a field merge included in your marketing content. This could be the subject line of an email, a text element within an email, or the salutation on a landing page. Typical examples of field merges for personalized marketing are:

  • “Dear [FirstName]”, “Companies like [CompanyName]”
  • “Thank you for downloading [DownloadName]”.

Field merges are simple and easy to implement but require 100% data completeness and accuracy.

Personalizing Marketing with Dynamic Content

The next level of personalized marketing is dynamic content. In this case, it is not only one word that gets individualized, but an entire content block. In addition to text elements, dynamic content can be programmed to personalize images, links, buttons, and calls-to-action. The personalization of dynamic content is based on rules which are configured in advance, including a default rule for those cases where the other rules will not match. A very simple example in reference to the field merge “Dear [FirstName]” could be to only show this salutation “IF [FirstName] contains at least 2 characters”, otherwise show “Dear Customer”. You can increase the complexity of dynamic content by building more rules and adding more criteria to each rule.

Using Personas and Targeted Content

In order to push the personalized marketing experience even further, you will most likely introduce personas to your content marketing strategy. Personas are virtual characters that you want to target with your marketing content. There are different approaches to how personas can be designed. Among the most popular are personas that you will meet in the course of the sales cycle. For example “The Marketing Manager”, “The Sales Director”, “The IT Guy”, “The Sponsor”, etc.

The positive aspect about personas and persona-tailored content is that it’s far more effective in comparison to using some standard content for everything and everybody. The negative aspect is that persona-driven content marketing will exponentially multiply your content production with every persona you add to your marketing concept.

Personalized Content Per Campaign Stage

While personas are a big step ahead in delivering highly personalized content, the other relevant component for an individualized marketing experience is the usage of the right content at the right time. Referring to the sales cycle again, you should target your content offering not only to a specific persona but additionally consider the buying stage of contacts you are marketing to.

There are again different ways to determine which stage a customer is in. You can use specific questions on forms, such that you learn more about the current stage with every download that a contact makes. The more complex, yet more interesting approach is to combine all sorts of behavioral data and to use lead scoring in order to determine the right campaign stage.

Adding the campaign stage dimension to your content marketing mix will require more content, of course. If you decide to have 3 personas and 3 buying stages, you will need at least 9 pieces of content. Every new persona or every additional buying stage will require more content. It is important to keep that in mind because personalized marketing at this level comes at a cost. The gains (i.e. improved conversion rates and a better marketing experience) are worth it!

What is Hyper-Personalized Marketing?

In all the content examples described above, there is one common pattern: no matter if you design your content per persona, per buying stage, or both, the content as such is static and forces you to create content for each scenario. Once created or printed, there are no more variations of that content, until you decide to make yet another paper for the next persona.

The new era in content marketing is hence to make content, like PDF or printed content, fully dynamic, or, as we call it: hyper-personalized. Imagine you are using field merges like you do in emails, but now you are using them for creating a hyper-personalized PDF, or printed document, exactly at the time when a contact requests this particular document. It can be as simple as your checklist, “How to prepare for the digital transformation”, carrying the company name in the title, e.g. “How to prepare [CompanyName] for the digital transformation”.

Using specific rules can result in all sorts of variations with regard to text elements, images, charts, statistics, quotes, etc. You are using real-time information at exactly the time when your content is requested in order to hyper-personalize it. Another advantage is that your content will be always in the most recent layout, style, and branding, since all you need to do is to update the layout template in the background, while the actual content will be produced upon a download request.

Use Cases for Hyper-Personalized Content

Ultimately we can think of a lot of possibilities where you can hyper-personalize your content. Basically at every occasion when you are processing data and the outcome is a PDF, image, or printed document that you would like to deliver instantly to a lead or contact, personalization can be implemented.

Some more specific examples for hyper-personalized content are:

  • Creating quotes or financial offers
  • Invitations to events, seminars, trainings
  • Event tickets
  • Analytical Reports
  • Brochures
  • Guides
  • Case Studies
  • Checklists
  • Posters

With these use cases in hand, step out in confidence and start hyper-personalizing your content today. If you'd like a tool to help you along the way, download The Personalization Playbook.

The Personalization Playbook

Featured image source: pexels

This article originally appeared on Aptly.

Source: Eloqua