How to Get Personal With Your Content

Everyone and their dog can be a content creator these days. You don't have to have any qualifications; you don't have to have a writing background; anyone with access to the Internet and the right platform can publish.

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On top of individual creators (and dogs!), companies publish their own content. Some of it has depth. Some of it does not.

In today's online content environment, it takes effort on the part of audience members to dig up that perfect gem of useful information. At the same time, you need to get your message across to the right people; that's critical to your business.

So how do you stand out from all the noise?

If your business targets enterprises, you likely already use an account-based marketing (ABM) approach and you have a list of accounts that you care most about. You have likely built a content bench for those accounts that is somewhat agnostic but also personalized at the level of the industry and business.

But what if you took it a step farther and personalized it for the people who are making the decisions—the individual people on buying teams?

That's known as buying group marketing (BGM), the next evolution of your quest to deliver ever-more relevant content.

Although personalizing for real humans may be your goal in BGM, it could backfire if you aren’t mindful of how you go about it. In fact, it could come across as downright creepy.

But if you do personalization well, it will pay off. “Today’s personalization leaders have found proven ways to drive 5 to 15 percent increases in revenue and 10 to 30 percent increases in marketing-spend efficiency,” according to McKinsey.

Five Tips for Content Personalization

Here's how to develop and execute an ace personalization strategy that will energize your revenue while keeping you out of the proverbial doghouse.

1. Listen, listen, listen

Personalization relies on talking and listening to your customers, understanding their real-world problems and the nuances of their business context, and keeping up with industry trends.

In addition to paying attention to your marketing channels, open the lines of communication with your sales and customer success teams and create a feedback loop for customer information on the topics that resonate. (Pro tip: pay attention to questions prospects ask in those "Ask me anything" webinars!)

2. Analyze and measure intent

All sorts of data sources can be used to analyze and measure your prospects' intent. Start by learning what content is most valuable on your website. What's the best use case? What are your top performing posts? What are your competitors' top performing posts?

Various tools (some of which you are likely already using) in the market can help. For example, if you’re running ad campaigns, you can aggregate them in themes to see what content is resonating. If you’re using an intent solution, you can do a historical look back to analyze topics and map out interest to take those learnings forward.

Also, check out industry forums and Slack groups to gauge trends. Look at event agendas to see what topics are being covered. Look at what research firms are pushing out. Don’t be afraid to use other content sources; you do not necessarily have to reinvent the wheel!

3. Define your personas and map your content strategy

It’s time to paint a picture of your ideal customer profile (ICP) and put some definition around the people on a typical buying team. Make a list of their pain points, what they care about, their aspirations, etc.

Personifying prospects is an important step in the BGM process. After you have your personas, work through their individual journeys from awareness to closed deal. Consider how those journeys influence one another, keep in mind these content criteria: depth, form factor, delivery, and timing.

4. Target the right channels and the right form factors

Think about the medium of delivery for your content, whether it's an interactive website, a video, infographic, or an iPad app for a fun magazine set in a futuristic world where your product solves problems. It’s fun to be creative!

How your content is delivered is important. It must resonate with who your target buyers are, and it should be delivered in the channels where they consume information. Form factor and delivery are aspects of personalization.

5. Develop relevant personalized content

Developing high-quality content isn't light work, but it’s worth investing half your time and resources to do it right. (Don’t you hate it when you read something and it ends up being a waste of time?)

Although the repetitiveness of your messages over time counts, just because you're generating a lot of content doesn't necessarily mean it's going to have results—especially if it’s not pertinent. And you don’t want to annoy your prospects. It will be monumentally harder to get their attention back once you’ve lost them.

If you are not thinking about your prospect and customer experiences vis a vis the quality of your content, it’s time to rethink how you approach content.

What BGM Personalization Looks Like in Practice
Let’s paint a picture of what such personalization looks like in practice.

There are three people in your target account’s buying group from three departments: Marketing, Finance, and Legal. Your prospect from the marketing team is already engaged as a stakeholder, but he or she is still at the top of the funnel, whereas people in Sales, Finance, and Legal have no idea who you are.

You are probably not going to want to serve Finance and Legal top-of-the-funnel content such as advertising, but they will have to be engaged later in the funnel. If you are doing personalization well, you’ll create content for each persona, and Legal and Finance content will serve toward the bottom of the funnel.

The content you create for those departments will support Marketing in getting them on board. Finance will probably care about the cost and payment cycles; Legal likely has concerns around contract terms and privacy. To support your marketing stakeholder, you’ll want to serve information that will enable them to influence Finance and Legal. (Marketing team members aren’t going to want to read your entire contract, for instance; they just need the salient points for Legal—so give that info to them!)

If you haven't mapped your content from the get-go, success will be a big hurdle. In fact, if you don't understand your audience and you don't understand your deal cycle and who's involved, personalizing content could be a big waste of time. But, if you’ve done your homework and executed on point, you’ll differentiate yourself among all the hawking, barking marketing noise out there.