How Marketers Use Dynamic Content to Deliver Personalized Experiences
Personalization and dynamic content are familiar terms marketers toss around. I’ll be the first to admit to using the terms interchangeably or misusing them altogether. But I’ve seen the light, and these words amount to more than the buzz they’ve created: They’re essential to driving better engagement and more impactful marketing campaigns.
The specific definitions and applications for personalization and dynamic content illuminate how they help marketers create better digital experiences. Let’s explore each term and where they fit in the context of marketing automation.
Personalization: This is a result of strategically using a marketing automation platform. Personalization is what marketers aim to deliver: user experiences that are personal, meaning they’re customized based on customer data, such as contact preferences and previous engagement.
Dynamic content: This is a feature of a marketing automation platform. Dynamic content helps marketers execute personalization strategies. It helps them assign rules so that content changes for each contact are, as the name implies, automated.
A solid content strategy uses dynamic content to personalize customer experiences. The technology or feature affects the result in other words. But, without a proper content strategy, your goals are undefined. And nothing drives a better content strategy than data.
Building a data-driven content strategy
Businesses ingest vast swaths of data every day. Organizing and synthesizing that data to inform content strategy is crucial to creating highly personalized customer experiences. (Nothing organizes and stores data better than a customer data platform (CDP), but I digress.) For our purposes, let’s look at two particular data types:
Profile-based data: These are records based on profile fields. Think of signing up for a streaming service like Hulu. You might get asked your email, age, and media preferences, then get put into a segment based on the data you provided.
Engagement-based data: These are records based on behavior. After signing up for Hulu, say you watch a lot of sci-fi and 80s comedy films. Based on that engagement data, Hulu will better tailor its future movie suggestions.
Those are the two basic data types for getting started. An important distinction between them is that profile-based data is pedigree information users provide directly, while engagement-based data is given passively and collected on an ongoing basis. From here, there are a few keys steps to using data to personalize your content strategy:
- Select channels: The number of places people want to consume content is constantly expanding. Whichever channels you deliver to, it’s helpful to have a marketing automation platform that can deliver communications across multiple channels — email, mobile app, website, voice assistant, AR/VR, etc.
- Create audiences: Until your product solves everything for everyone, you’ll need to target audiences who will find your product most useful for solving their problem. Audiences can be broad or narrow, but an important part of personalization is knowing who you’re targeting.
- Personalize messaging: Once you’ve got data, channels, and audiences figured out, you can personalize messaging better. Using the aforementioned data points, it’s time to serve tailored experiences that show customers you know them, what problem they’re trying to solve, and the solution they need.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll use a simple example of all this in action: email personalization.
Personalization through dynamic content
Let’s say I’m an online clothing retailer, and my goal is to sell last season’s rainwear to make room for new inventory.
We’re going to build an email together. That’s right: one email.
With just one email build, I’m going to reach a broad audience of customers in different cities, experiencing different weather, and having shown different levels of product interest. Here’s what my email copy will look like to a few different rainy city contacts in this campaign:
“Hi, Marnie! Looks like rain in New Orleans this weekend. Shop our raincoats!”
“Hi, Dave! Looks like clouds in Boston this weekend. Shop our sweaters!”
“Hi, Katie! Looks like wind in New York this weekend. Shop our windbreaker collection!
Notice that the first name, weather description, city, and product are all different and personalized. The field values are added dynamically based on variables I selected — in this case, a combination of customer data from past engagements and products featured in the campaign.
Using the same email, I can use dynamic content to create an entirely different message. Say another segment are folks who have already shown interest in these products. I might serve them a promotional offer: “Hi, Alex! All rainwear is 50% off today. Shop now!”
The point is: From a single email, dynamic content allows me to craft diverse messaging based on whoever I’m targeting.
Personalization is a practice
Remember that personalization is the result of using dynamic content. Dynamic content is essential to personalization, and personalization is essential to creating 1-to-1 customer experiences. It isn’t a one-off, either; personalization is an approach for every digital experience you hope to serve.
Personalizing your website and communications shows you go beyond merely listening. Just like everyday conversations, both sides engage and provide input, and both sides expect appropriate responses. Your relationship with customers should reflect this.
Make it a goal to avoid blasting your total audience with broad messaging. The size of your database is not where your strength lies. It lies in understanding customer data and using it to tell tailored stories that matter most to them.
Campaign Studio can help you collect and create data-driven automations built to adapt to a dynamic marketing landscape. Watch your content strategy soar rather than being bound to what your current system will let you do. Don’t believe me? Allow me to show you.