Live from Confab: Content strategy for personalization

Content strategy for personalization: Five steps toward building thoughtful targeted experiences, by Colin Eagan

confab logoWhat is targeting, and why do I care?

Targeting is personalized content/layout for a person. It’s adaptive to a unique user trait, and it can be based on zip code, browsing history, etc.

Targeted = customized, based on data.

Using targeting for good

  • Netflix provides content that’s helpful
  • But targeted ads are also sometimes creepy – stalker ads.
  • Some targeting is also just inappropriate or fails, by connecting (for example) an article about food poisoning at the Olive Garden to an advertisement for a half-priced dinner at the Olive Garden

Recent news of targeting:

  • Twitter looks at the apps on your phone and customizes ads based on it
  • LinkedIn is being sued in a class action lawsuit for “hijacking identity” via email, because they used to send emails to your contacts, asking to connect, without asking you
  • The EU has privacy laws up requiring sites to inform people when they are using cookies
  • There are lawsuits against Facebook for tracking your face so that they can auto-tag you
  • There’s “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty” to quote Eric Meyer, when content is personalized without your permission

For content people, this changes things.

“Experience Management Platforms” – CMSs that focus on creating personalized experiences.

Goals & Objectives

Do you need targeting? That depends.

Good reasons to target:

  • Your audience can be segmented in meaningful ways
  • Narrowing your message provides incremental value
  • Targeting is tied to specific business KPIs

Bad reasons to target:

  • Because we can!

Targeting is NOT a goal. It’s a tool.

Some data is better than others. There’s implicit data (which people don’t know you’re gathering), and explicit data (that users provide willingly).

Audiences & Segments

Break out audiences by useful segments – personas, customer types, etc.

Rules & Campaigns

How are you going to differentiate? Identify what challenges exist that you can eliminate.

But first, look at the segments:

  • Male vs. Female
  • Role
  • Set the segments up in an analytics tool

Testing & Analytics

Create a worksheet to call out:

  • The segments
  • The touch points on the site
  • How we’re going to differentiate what they see

Or set up a journey map

  • Show the map for each segment
  • Clarify the touch points
  • How we’re going to differentiate what they see

Examples of how to add user value in a targeted way:

  • Alert: show this user time-sensitive information
  • Make easier: promote site functions useful to this person
  • Cross-sell: notify the user of relevant products or services
  • Enrich: notify the user of relevant (non-sales) content

Connect the types of user value to different areas on the site.

Tag the information, to tell the system what content to show what audience.

Use targeted content for good!!

Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the VP of Content Strategy at the UX design agency Mad*Pow, where she helps healthcare, finance, and educational organizations communicate with their audiences. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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