Meaningful content personalisation

29 June 2015Kate Kenyon

Meaningful content personalisation

As more companies embrace the benefits of being truly digital, a new challenge is coming: keeping things human. When you never meet your customers, how do you make a meaningful connection with them?


People buy from people they like...kind of.

Forrester predicts that by 2020, there will be 1m fewer US sales people making face to face contact with customers. The old sales maxim that 'people buy from people they like' has clearly been modified by the distance, convenience and choice of digital. People like reps, but they like shopping at midnight in their pyjamas even more.

Human nature hasn’t changed

Digital has changed customer behaviour, but we are still humans - evolved to cooperate and collaborate to improve our wellbeing.

Despite the convenience of digital communication, we still want a sense of useful, friendly connection with the companies we do business with.  As digital content becomes the tool that customers use to find and evaluate a company's business worthiness[TK1] , content has to not only meet the needs of the customer, but do so in a way that evokes a feeling of individual attention.

Making content meaningful: a checklist

The combination of context awareness and personalised content allows companies to get closer to doing that in digital. But be careful: a company has to be able to judge what degree of personalisation brings reward, and when it tips over into being just plain irritating or worse, creepy.

Effective personalisation involves:

A Knowledge Matrix

  • Map your customers – what have they come to do on your site?  Group people by what they want, not who they are: job titles don’t mean a whole lot when you’re online. Where do your different customer groups’ needs diverge, and how?
  • Map your personalisation plans – how do your plan to make each of these groups feel unique?
  • Map your content – what meets everyone’s needs, and what’s more specialist? What can be personalised? What is redundant?

Structure for Content

  • Use your matrix to find a way of carving up content into types, and structure what goes into each type – each title, teaser, tagline, description, mapped out in detail. Why?  So that you can reuse content as much as possible.

Without structured content

multiple customer groups x multiple different platforms = an unsustainable amount of content writing and reversioning

Models bring manageability, or else you’ll never get to personalisation.

  • Test your model and see how well your personalisation occurs – too much, too little, too creepy? Testing allows you to find the edge cases that get missed in the early stages.

A Feedback Loop

  • Personalised content is designed to have a specific effect on customers. This means designing suitable metrics to measure whether you’ve got it right.  Metrics that reflect overall business objectives are an overlooked part of content personalisation – without them, companies simply don’t know whether they are really succeeding.
  • Metrics are the starting point for change – any personalised content plan should grow and develop as feedback is received. Customers appreciate personalisation, but only if you accurately meet their needs. Inaccurate personalisation is probably more painful than none at all.

Need more?

This is just a starter list of how to use content for effective personalisation.

If you’d like more practical advice on modelling content, hands-on help and case studies from real companies using content personalisation, Cognifide is hosting a FREE half-day content modelling and personalisation workshop in London on Thursday 23rd July 2015.

Both Cleve Gibbon and Kate Kenyon will be presenting at international conferences on this subject in 2015, and this is a chance to test drive their workshop. Register for a place now.

Author: Kate Kenyon
Published: 29 June 2015
personalisationdigital marketingcustomer insightdigital transformationcontent strategy

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