William Gibson once said, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” To me, that is one of the most important quotes for digital marketers. It’s not important for you to invent the future. What’s more important is that you observe the present and figure out how your company can take advantage of what is possible.
Personalization is one of my personal hobby horses. There are some useful forms of personalization, such as showing, “Hi Mike” at the top of page, or automatically filling in fields of a form. But I don’t think anyone believes they are game changers, useful though they might be.
What really changes the game is the holy grail of content marketing–the right content to the right person at the right time. So, the question is, “How do you do that?”
There are two critical capabilities required:
- Who the visitor is. Maybe you have a registration capability. Maybe you cookie visitors and can recognize registered visitors even when they don’t sign in. Better would be to use Visitor ID technology that identifies 20-30% of your visitors’ characteristics in real-time. However you do it, you need to understand something about who your visitor is. Marketers are starting to understand how to do this.
- What your content is about. This, to me, is the missing link. I can’t tell you how many companies have no idea what content to serve, even if they know who the visitor is. Maybe you know what industry your B2B prospect works in. Do you know what content you have that speaks to that industry?
So, how do you know what your content is about?
The “about-ness” of content is a very abstract concept. What’s important is how we match up what we know about the visitor with what we know about the content:
- Industry. For B2B companies, this is critical, because most go to market by industry. The key is taxonomy–every company thinks they have a list of targeted industries, but how do they map that to their visitor? Smarter is to see what your Visitor ID system can do–they typically match to NAICS code (or its predecessor SIC), so why aren’t you categorizing your content around what you can learn about the visitor?
- Topic. You can call it theme or subject or pick your favorite word. What’s important is that there be some way of identifying what your visitor is interested in and matching it with your subject. Unfortunately, there is no easy taxonomy of topics as they are around industries.
There are more questions that you can mine about your content, but these two explain the problem. Sometimes there is a standardized taxonomy and sometimes there isn’t. The question for you, in either case, is what you know about your content. That is the missing link.