content marketing

While the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be assessed, two of the largest changes were in how to effectively market your business and understand shifts in consumer shopping behavior. When global shutdowns took place in 2020, consumers turned to online shopping. According to United States census data, online shopping increased by 43% from 2019 to 2020, representing an increase of $244.2 billion in sales revenue.

Additionally, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the online shopping trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Business-to-business (B2B) global e-commerce sales represent 82% of all online transactions, with business-to-consumer (B2C) dominating in China, the U.S., and the U.K.

How can your brand keep each of its locations positioned as the store or office of choice for consumers, even when market conditions change rapidly? Personalization is one of five core customer experience (CX) competencies identified by Forsta, making it an essential aspect of your local digital marketing strategy.

In this post, you’ll find the current definition of personalized content, see examples of content personalization done right, types of personalization, and tips to help your brand personalize content to create exceptional consumer experiences at scale.

What is personalized content? 

Personalized content leverages user and client data to identify and target user preferences based on search and purchase history, demographics, location, and shopping behavior to create personalized, targeted content that is more likely to lead to conversions.

This content can be based on several factors, including:

  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Geographic location
  • Purchase or search history
  • How they are accessing your website (mobile, desktop, tablet)
  • Length of time on your site
  • Search terms
  • Any other metrics that can provide a robust, complete persona.

Then, that data is used to provide relevant, targeted marketing to provide customers messaging at an individual level.

You can also compare and contrast similar shopping experiences to build a stronger profile. For example, people who bought X typically searched for A or B, or bought C with it. Adding that recommendation to future potential customers researching the same items will assist with higher conversions and average order value. It also leads to higher customer satisfaction.

Why personalized content matters to local consumers

A survey by Accenture found that 91% of consumers indicated they would shop more with brands who remembered their preferences, and made relevant recommendations. One of the best ways to accomplish that is through personalized content.

The pandemic made e-commerce and m-commerce the only option for many, and brands need more competitive advantages than ever. Salesforce has found that two-thirds (66%) of consumers expect brands to understand their needs and expectations.

Moreover, consumers expect an omnichannel experience, where a salesperson in a brick-and-mortar store (or a sales rep or bot online) has access to the customer’s data, preferences, and history to provide a personal experience no matter where they choose to shop. With so much competition, Statista found that 62% of consumers said a brand would lose their loyalty if it delivered a non-personalized experience.

Recommended reading: 16 Strategies to Personalize the Local Search Customer Experience

Personalized content definition statistic

Examples of personalization

One of the easiest ways to customize a customer experience is by storing, analyzing, and utilizing customer data. This can be accomplished by leveraging a customer data platform that enables your business to segment audiences based on previous shopping behavior.

Purchase history

During a 2022 survey, 80% of consumers worldwide stated they believed it was appropriate for marketers to collect the brand purchase history of their clients. That allows you to make recommendations at checkout for cross-selling or upselling, send VIP promotions and personalized recommendations, offer free shipping, restock or reorder reminders, and special “front-of-the-line” access to new products.

Make sure you are segmenting your customer information. For example sending a notification for winter coats on sale to customers living in Florida is a waste of time and marketing effort.

Loyalty programs

Another easy way to personalize marketing is with a loyalty program. Give your customers VIP access, special offers such as free shipping, or perks and discounts. Customers who join loyalty programs are loyal customers who can be brand ambassadors for you.

User behavior and demographics

One of the simplest ways to personalize marketing efforts is by using demographics. These may include gender, age, occupation, geographic location, and other basic information. Every marketing course the world over recommends creating customer personas and then tailoring marketing efforts to the “average” customer.

That may have worked when your customers were predominantly limited to bricks and mortar retail locations, but e-commerce has changed everything. With a global customer base, “average” customers based on demographics quickly lose favor, being replaced by targeted personalization based on customer behavior, intention, and purchases.

Focusing solely on demographics can go wrong. Consider the case of the Bic for Her pens, which became a case study in how not to market based on demographics. Rather than capturing their target demographic, the pens became a cautionary tale of what not to do.

Instead of demographics, focus on things like customer intention, search history, pages visited, and purchase history. For example, if you are a skincare company, you know the average use for your products. Rather than generalized emails, send a personalized reminder to reorder, and include information about complementary skincare products or new product alerts that provide opportunities to upsell and increase average order value.

Dynamic content personalization

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of marketing personalization solutions today that offer dynamic content personalization in different ways. Algorithms pull customer data such as name, job title, and location to personalize individual consumer email marketing outreach. The more data you have on the customer, the easier it is to customize.

Smart content leverages data. It leverages search and purchase history and customer intention to provide personalized interactions when a customer returns to the site. Not only does the site recognize (and acknowledge) a return customer, it can make personalized recommendations based on previous interactions. “People also purchased,” and Amazon’s recommendations function are two examples of smart content databases.

Dynamic content can work with ads, SMS messaging, email, and conversational commerce. It is one of the factors that can bring an omnichannel experience to your customers. It can remember preferences across all your platforms and deliver cohesive user experiences regardless of where your customer chooses to engage with you.

Recommended reading: Local Customer Engagement Building Strategies

Dynamic content insertion

Dynamic content relies on data. Content saved in a data field or passed from a query string can then be displayed on a page or used in a tracking string.

Different content variables accomplish different things, whether you need a name, a URL, javascript, HTML, or calculations without rules.

For example, different content rules would display as follows:

Syntax Usage
{{dataName}} For standard value (HTML encoded)
{{:dataName}} For raw value
{{#dataName}} For URL encoded value
{{~dataName}} For string encoding (used in JavaScript)

Knowing what type of end-result data you need to display determines how to code the content rules.

Hyperlocal content

Rio SEO provides professional hyperlocal copywriting services to help further increase local visibility for client locator pages. Well-written copy that’s customized to the unique aspects of each business location is a positive SEO signal that both improves the visitor experience and improves the visibility of your local pages. In turn, we can personalize each location’s content to be unique to that location.

O’Reilly Auto Parts is a great example of this.

For example, for this location, we have store hours specific to that store and custom copy that mentions nearby landmarks to help customers in that local area better find the store.

O' Reilly personalized content definition example

O’Reilly content personalization example

Tips for content personalization at scale

Dig into your data.

Seek out trends in your local marketing reporting platform that present potential personalizations. Are there specific locations where a certain type of product or service is in high demand? Can you identify a regional group or lower-performing stores that could benefit from a specific deal, offer or promotion?

Create content roadmaps.

Visualize how your customer moves from search to sale and what opportunities you have to personalize the experience along the way. Give customers a way to engage and connect at each touchpoint. For example, populating the URL field on each of your locations’ Google Business Profile with the corresponding local landing page instead of the corporate website offers that customer local photos, real reviews, product availability and more to peruse on their path to conversion.

Empower local managers to create personalized local content.

Enterprise local marketing software with brand publishing capabilities and permission-based controls is a powerful tool for facilitating local content creation. This can help the brand meet high commercial intent consumers with relevant and compelling offers at scale, even across wide geographic regions or the entire brand.

More helpful resources for creating personalized interactions at scale: