Illustration of silhouettes of people, each saying "Me!" as header for article titled "What is the future of content personalisation?"

In the bustling world of digital marketing, where new targeting tactics emerge daily, there’s one thing that businesses everywhere have consistently been in an arms race for: providing personalised content experiences. And you might be asking…

Why is personalisation a growing trend?

Seasoned content marketers will be quick to list all its benefits, starting with the simple fact that it’s just what’s expected. That is because, as we know, 80% of consumers lean towards brands that tailor experiences just for them. So, on one side of the coin, users revel in enhanced experiences, discovering content or products they might’ve blissfully overlooked. Flip it over however, and you’ll discover that it also benefits the teams behind the campaigns through a surge in productivity and, dare we say, a renaissance in creativity. Personalisation isn’t just changing the game; it’s changing the players, pushing them to refine their skills and innovate like never before.

Personalisation, however, is nothing new, as we are reminded time and time again by that same pesky ad that plays before every YouTube video (you know exactly which one I’m talking about!) It’s a tried and tested strategy that has yielded great results for marketing teams everywhere. And there are different levels to it.

What are the three levels of personalisation?

Diving a bit deeper, personalisation isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. There’s a gradient to it:

  • Level 1: Think of it as the starter pack. Here, brands employ a one-to-many approach, targeting broad audience segments with basic communications – all drawn from elementary contact details.
  • Level 2: Moving up a notch, we have the one-to-some approach. Using more refined customer behaviour insights and richer datasets, brands can target specific clusters of their audience.
  • Level 3: The pièce de résistance. A one-to-one approach that crafts an intimate, dynamic relationship between the user and the product data. It’s like having a conversation, where the brand and consumer are in perfect sync.

In an age where nearly every brand (including your cousin’s start-up and, probably, your tech-savvy mum’s blog) is jumping on the personalisation bandwagon, the depth of your tailored messages could be your winning ticket. But as the digital realm continues to evolve, so do the tools and techniques of personalisation. This evolution prompts a pressing, almost existential question for brands:

What is the future of content personalisation?

This is truly the million-dollar question on every marketer’s mind. Based on the current state of personalisation, it’s evident that it’s only set to become more sophisticated, deeply integrated, and user-centric. But the closer we edge to 2024, there are three blazing trends that you should be ardently tracking:

  1. AI-powered predictive personalisation, enabling brands to anticipate user needs even before they do
  2. Dynamic content adaptation that morphs in real-time based on user behaviour and context,
  3. Personalisation based on first-party data, ensuring future-proof personalisation strategies that take privacy concerns into account

In this next section, we’ll unpick each of these, explaining how they work and what the best tools are, as well as include case studies of brands that are leading the charge on personalisation.

AI-powered predictive personalisation

AI has brought forth a paradigm shift in most marketing practices, and content personalisation is no exception. This is because AI offers brands an expansive toolkit to curate tailored experiences for their audience. Here’s a closer look at what it can offer in terms of content personalisation:

  • User profiling: By analysing user behaviour, preferences, and interactions on a platform, AI can create detailed user profiles. These profiles can be used to predict what kind of content a user might find most engaging or relevant.
  • Recommendation systems: Popularised by platforms like Netflix and Amazon, recommendation algorithms suggest products, movies, articles, or other content based on a user’s past behaviour and preferences.
  • Personalised content generation: Some AI models can generate content tailored to individual users. For instance, AI can craft custom email campaigns or news summaries based on user preferences.
  • Predictive analysis: AI can anticipate user needs based on their behavior, enabling platforms to present content or product suggestions even before the user explicitly expresses a need.

The adoption of AI-driven personalisation has been meteoric, with a whopping 9 out of 10 businesses harnessing its potential according to a 2023 report by Twilio Segment. This statistic underlines two glaring realities:

  • Firstly, if you’re not already aboard the AI personalisation train, you’re missing out.
  • Secondly, with the burgeoning adoption, we’re just scratching the surface of what is possible — expect a flurry of groundbreaking innovations as more marketing campaigns deploy AI.
Case in point: Starbucks.

Starbucks’s mastery in AI personalisation is evident. By adeptly segmenting customers using demographics, purchase histories, and even social media footprints, Starbucks elevates personalisation to an art form. Personalised menu suggestions, tailored advertisements, and a nudge to long-lost customers with alluring promotions—all thanks to AI. This strategy seamlessly enriches the Starbucks journey, from mere order placement to the exhilarating sip.

And you can get started too!

If you’re on the prowl for a potent AI tool to kickstart your personalisation journey, look no further than Recombee. Engineered with cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, it offers tailor-made content and product suggestions. Whether you’re interacting on a website, mobile application, or any online interface, Recombee ensures its recommendations are recalibrated in real time, guaranteeing unmatched relevance at every interaction.

Dynamic content adaptation

In the digital age, content isn’t just king—it’s a chameleon.

Enter: dynamic content adaptation, a tactic ensuring that your website’s content constantly evolves, reflecting each user’s behaviour, preferences, and past interactions.

This is how it works:

It all begins with understanding your user. Factors like browsing history, geolocation, device type, time of access, and even prior engagements with the site shape the user’s profile. With the profile in place, the system springs into action, tweaking the content in real-time. For instance, e-commerce veterans might be greeted with product suggestions echoing their past purchases.

And it’s not just about personalisation; it’s about perfection. By offering different content variations, the system identifies the most effective and resonant version for users. To maximise the impact, dynamic content adaptation dovetails with CRM systems, DMPs, and other MarTech. This integration ensures a comprehensive data pull, forming the bedrock of top-tier personalisation.

The magic, however, happens in the database. Housing content, templates, and a plethora of website data, your website’s CMS retrieves the requisite information on-demand, serving it up every time a user lands on a page.

Case in point: TechSuite

When TechSuite took a bold step toward revamping their website content, they aimed for dynamic responsiveness that catered to visitors’ interactions with their website. Using a rich tapestry of data, which included visitor behaviours, resource downloads, and past activity, they crafted an immersive dynamic content experience.

The results? An impressive 30% surge in lead generation in just four months, a 20% climb in demo bookings and trial registrations, and the icing on the cake—a 40% enhancement in lead quality, signalling a more informed clientele resonating with TechSuite’s offerings.

The WordPress Advantage

The digital landscape is replete with WordPress-powered websites. If you’re looking to sprinkle some personalisation magic on your WordPress CMS, the If-So plugin is your wand. This intuitive plugin allows content to morph based on predefined rules or user behaviours, ensuring every visitor feels the content is crafted just for them.

Personalisation based on first-party data

You might have noticed the emphasis on the utilisation of first-party data for content personalisation in our Starbucks and TechSuite examples. Indeed, the reliance on first-party data has been underscored recently by significant changes in the digital landscape. And by this, we of course mean Google’s recent announcement that it will phase out third-party data cookies for all Chrome users by the latter half of 2024.This impending change poses specific challenges for businesses.

  • Firstly, it limits the ability to track users across websites, making it harder to create a comprehensive view of customer behavior. This lack of cross-site tracking hampers the precision of targeted advertising and personalised content delivery.
  • Secondly, without third-party cookies, businesses lose a significant tool for measuring ad performance and attributing conversions accurately. This shift demands a reevaluation of digital marketing strategies, pushing companies towards alternative methods of data collection, such as first-party data acquisition and collaboration with trusted partners. Adapting to these changes is crucial to maintaining effective personalisation strategies while ensuring compliance with evolving privacy regulations.

But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: marketers, instead of seeing this as a challenge, should interpret it as a valuable nudge – an invitation to enhance and refine their data strategies. Remember, while third-party data may be on the decline, the potential and richness of first-party data remain untapped for many businesses.

Modern technology, as exemplified in our prior sections, allows businesses to construct detailed customer profiles, all from the first-party data in their possession. How? By leveraging advanced segmentation, mining for sophisticated derived variables, and accessing the power of predictive analytics.

Case in point: Zoe Financial

This New York-based wealth-planning platform acknowledged the immense value in the first-party data they had gathered, and utilised HubSpot CRM as a repository and analysis tool. They also introduced offline conversion events into the system, ensuring a 360-degree view of the customer journey. With these insights at hand, they executed highly targeted Google Ads campaigns, resulting in a commendable 60% surge in sales within their premium client segment.

To embark on a similar journey, consider exploring Apteco

Apteco is a tool that offers an integrated approach to data-driven marketing, helping you understand customer behaviour and leveraging it for impactful personalisation strategies. With a suite of features designed to maximise the utility of your first-party data, Apteco can be a game-changer for businesses ready to make personalisation the core of their strategy.

But still…

While leveraging first-party data is pivotal for effective personalisation, brands must also be cognizant of the challenges that lie ahead. Let’s delve into four primary impediments that marketers often grapple with in their personalisation journey.

What are the four key impediments to personalisation?

  • Data privacy: With increasing regulations, businesses must ethically gather data, ensuring full compliance with all relevant laws, like the GDPR in Europe or the CCPA in the US.
  • Organisational misalignment: As third-party cookies phase out, a unified approach to first-party data becomes crucial. Yet, in larger organisations, data silos can disrupt this unity, often without marketing teams even realising it.
  • Lack of knowledge or skills: Possessing advanced tools is just half the battle. Knowing how to wield them effectively is essential. Hence, companies should balance their investments in both technology and staff training.
  • Going overboard: Hyper-personalisation can backfire. In fact, some articles suggest that overly intrusive personalisation can damage brand trust, emphasising the need for balance.

Navigating these regulatory landscapes requires a meticulous approach. Businesses should prioritise obtaining explicit consent from users before collecting and processing their data. This involves transparently communicating data practices, allowing users to opt-in or out, and respecting their right to have their data deleted upon request, as mandated by GDPR and CCPA. Implementing robust security measures to protect collected data is also paramount, and companies should regularly audit their data processes to ensure ongoing compliance.

Furthermore, educating internal teams on the intricacies of these regulations is crucial to avoid unintentional violations. Striking a balance between personalisation and privacy is key, ensuring that businesses deliver tailored experiences without compromising the ethical and legal dimensions of user data usage. Adhering to these guidelines not only fosters trust but also future-proofs businesses against the evolving landscape of data protection laws.

Conclusion: the future of content personalisation is here

Content personalisation has undeniably cemented its place in the future of digital marketing. As we’ve explored, from AI tools to the importance of first-party data and potential challenges, it’s a multifaceted realm ripe with opportunities. As the digital landscape evolves, so too should our strategies. Embracing personalisation isn’t just a trend, but a necessity to stand out, forge genuine connections, and deliver unparalleled user experiences.

At Dusted, we always have one eye on the future of marketing

We work with some of the most ambitious and game-changing businesses in the world and deliver solutions that walk the fine line between human connection and technical innovation.

As a specialist digital marketing and brand activation consultancy, we offer a plethora of resources to help you hone your strategies wherever you are on the adoption curve, helping diverse teams implement change that delivers actual results.

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