Are you ready to start serving smart content?

As marketers continue to figure out the true value of their web presence, a new buzzword has emerged as part of their content strategy and it's called 'smart content'.

In short, smart content, also known as personalised content, is content that allows marketers to deliver content that's intelligently and specifically tailored to or targeted at people who visit their digital properties.

Research has shown that 52% of marketers regard personalisation of content as critical to their success in delivering a brand message, while 78% of CMOs think it's the future of marketing.

Add to that the fact that a massive 75% of consumers have said that they like it when brands personalise their content and it's easy to see that dishing up the same content to a large group of individuals is increasingly becoming a waste of time, money and resources.

When it comes to personalisation, Amazon has been one of the leaders in mining and using data to create a more curated e-commerce experience for consumers.

Another early personalisation adopter is Netflix that dynamically changes content based on which categories or content a user selects. They use 'performance and functionality' cookies to collect information - such as popular pages, conversion rates, viewing patterns, click-through and other information - about their visitors' use of the Netflix service so that they can personalise the website while conducting market research.

News websites are also increasingly personalising homepages and landing pages as they recognise that one static page of information does not fit all. 

Hubspot says they have data that shows personalised content can drastically improve the performance of your website and the engagement of your visitors.

They looked at the data for more than 93 000 calls-to-action created using HubSpot over 12 months and discovered that calls-to-action targeted to the user performed 42% better than generic calls-to-action.


Getting started with personalisation

The first step in delivering smart content is identifying your audience by developing marketing (or buyer) personas and mapping out consumer journeys using queries, keyword topics, real data and market research. 

This data is can be tracked in analytics programmes, such as in Google Analytics. By segmenting the analytics results, the audience can be divided up and the information used to optimise content or, in other words, create smart content for personas. Analytics is again employed to track the uptake and performance of the smart content.  

Tools used to gather data includes website cookies that can identify returning users. Anonymous users can be tracked via their geographic location, interests, device type and referral sources. 

Services such as Personyze is a good place to start if you're totally new to personalisation technology. They boast that they can personalise almost any element of a web page in real-time, without the need of changing the HTML code.

Or try Visual Website Optimizer that offers a service where you can do A/B testing to see which version works best, or GetBunting that's aimed at retailers who want to segment audiences. 


Personalisation vs privacy

I big concern for the public is the invasion of their privacy when data about them is collected in personalisation efforts. Also, when mistakes are made during the process where, for instance, outdated information is used to address an individual.

Technology outsourcing company CapGemini conducted research that analysed over 220 000 conversations on social media to gauge customer sentiment on the themes of personalisation and privacy for retailers. 

They found customers feel that 86% of retailers struggle to strike a balance between personalisation and privacy. One way a retailer can retain customers is to assure them of their efforts to safeguard the privacy of customer data.

When it comes to personalisation, social media is way ahead of other digital channels, but with smart content technology developing fast, and users tiring of searching for content that's relevant to them, we should see a surge in personalisation across the web soon. As long as that personal data that they collect is firmly secured.