One statistic that leapt out to me from the Content Marketing Report 2015 was that only 16% of B2B marketers were “personalising” their content. This is not a failing. I think most of that remaining 84% are absolutely right not to do so…
Let’s clarify first that personalisation in this context refers to delivering different versions of content to different audience profiles. And this is theoretically an excellent thing to do. We all know they have subtly different needs and, in a perfect world, marketers would be smart enough to cater for those needs by delivering finely tuned content.
But we don’t live in a perfect world.
We live instead in a world where we need results – and where getting the basics right is frequently a better use of time and resources. We also live in a world littered with examples of large companies paying large sums of money for sophisticated email nurturing systems that are used for crude email blasting. In short, we are often guilty of trying to run before we can walk.
The more we try to personalise the content experience, the more we dilute our focus, and the greater the burden we put on our resources – and the greater the chance of getting it wrong. And just because technology enables us to create complex matrix diagrams of 48 different user profiles, based on job title, industry and various behavioural statistics, it doesn’t mean we have to.
So what are the basics that we overlook in our quest for hyper-personalisation? For me, the most important quality of your content is differentiation. If you can produce content that offers value that no one else in your sector is offering, you have a huge advantage. It takes time, effort and skill to spot these opportunities. But I’d suggest that this is time well spent.
I’m not saying we go back to living in caves. The ability to personalise content is a powerful tool and we should exploit it. But all in good time – and my experience is that some of the most effective content pieces work because they are creative, well-planned and innovative. The fact that they are appropriate for large parts of your audience, instead of just those in the technology sector within a 25-mile radius of London, simply makes your life easier.
In their report, B2B Marketing recommend that “finely tuned messages always deliver better results than mass-market comms”. This is true. But outstanding content always delivers better results too. And that’s the bit to get right first.