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Do you remember that ridiculous programme “Pimp My Ride” on MTV hosted by the even more ridiculous 'rapper' Xzibit?

Well Xzibit and his creative mechanic friends were ahead of their time as they recognised the importance of personalisation and creating something that was tailored to individual interests.

An admirable philosophy that should be applied to web platform content.

To recap, the purpose of the show was as follows:

  1. Take a banged up old car belonging to someone who could not afford to buy a better one or pay for repairs (normally a student).
  2. Find out about the person’s personality and hobbies.
  3. Using the information gathered regarding their character, completely revamp, or 'pimp', their car by installing a many unnecessary gadgets and accessories as is possible; think a gold fish bowl integrated into the back seat if they like fish or a set of decks in the boot if they are a DJ.
  4. Watch the car get broken into the first time it’s parked. 

Ok, so point four was not shown on camera but we all knew that was going to happen!   

It is the personalisation aspect of Xzibit and his creative mechanic friends that suggests they were ahead of their time. They understood that each customer, or driver in Pimp My Ride’s case, is different with a unique personality.  

They strived to achieve satisfaction by understanding what the driver’s interests were. Granted, they may have gone a bit too far at times, I am thinking of a particular episode when multi-coloured disco balls were attached to a car’s ceiling because the owner liked dancing, but they always had good intentions. 

The philosophy of personalising a customer’s user experience has been used to great effect in digital and traditional marketing over the last couple of years with CEM (or CXM if you prefer) being, for want of a better term, a 'hot topic' of recent times.  

Customers are now expecting a personal service and this is none more apparent that when looking at the web.  

With advancements in modern CMS platforms such as Kentico, Sitecore and Adobe AEM to name a few, content personalisation is fast moving from a cool, nice to have feature on a website, to a must have necessity.   

Release your inner Xzibit

Xzibit

Okay, now let’s just make this clear, the gold chains and unrelentless use of the word 'dawg' are not necssary, but you need to start asking the same questions as our car enthusiast.  

What are a person’s interests, what are their hobbies, think about where they live. Instead of trying to create a nightclub in a fluorescent coloured car with a karaoke machine in the back, a digital marketer can start to create a user persona based on visitor data.    

This visitor data effectively creates customer segments which have to be defined in order to deliver efficient content personalisation.

Three major segmentation categories are:

  1. Behaviour.
  2. Location.
  3. Interest.

Behaviour looks at what articles the visitor has read, what products they have purchased or any other relevant behavioural data that helps form a picture of the person.  

This can include Google search terms. If a person has Googled 'holidays in Spain' and then clicked on your website then the content should be based around holidays in Spain!

Location is a very important segmentation tool. This can be achieved by tracking IP addresses.

If a retail company has a site visitor who lives in Croydon, they should firstly send them an email expressing their sympathies for their predicament, and secondly they should not target them with discount offers for your store in Manchester. 

Interest data can be gathered in various ways. Perhaps the most common tactic is sign-up forms. They can identify a person’s occupation, the industry sector in which they work, their hobbies, etc, etc. 

Once customer data has been gathered, a company can then start to create segments and deliver content accordingly that is optimised to the context in which the customer is accessing the site; mobile, tablet, desktop etc.

Of course none of this is possible if you do have the necessary technology…

Pimp your CMS platform!

Your old CMS system that was built by a web development agency 10 years ago that only they know how to use just aint gonna cut it!   

In order to deliver content personalisation seamlessly the CMS platform needs to recognise the visitor, check their persona date and deliver personalised content in milliseconds.  

The CMS platforms I mentioned earlier, Kentico, Sitecore and Adobe AEM have the power to transmit personalised content in near real time.  For example, the content an ecommerce site wants to show a visitor when they are browsing products will be dramatically different to the checkout stage.

In the not too distant past, creating and managing content was an arduous and painstaking task and marketers often had to rely on their IT department to implement any changes, improvements or amendments. The thought of personalising content as soon as a visitor accessed a site was not even being discussed.

The ease of use of modern CMS platforms means that marketing departments no longer need to rely on IT.  Different departments within an organisation or even teams located at different offices can all simultaneously work on one website.  

This makes utilising tailored messaging far easier as marketers and administrators can create new content and publish it as and when they wish.  

If content editors are more confident with the CMS platform that they are using, it goes without saying that the content will be of greater quality and the user experience will be optimised.  

High standard CMS platforms also allow marketers to identify their most valuable customers by enabling them to allocate scores to certain activities. This the realms of Lead Scoring.  

A quick example for a retail company would be: visiting a product page = 10 points, subscribing to the newsletter = 50 points and purchasing a product = 100 points.

A customer league table can then be created so you can see who are the Barcelona’s of your target audience and who are the Sunderland’s. 

Watch the conversions roll in

Increase conversions

There are so many ways content personalisation can be applied but it all centres around enhancing the user experience to increase conversions.  

You can have the best of intentions but if your CMS platform is not capable of delivering such functionality then these intentions will never become actionable.  Equally, you may have a suitable CMS platform but you are distinctly lacking in terms of content. 

When a company applies efficient segmentation, has excellent content and a highly capable CMS platform we have seen first-hand the conversion success content personalisation can generate.

The results are enough to make a digital marketer shout 'that’s the bomb!' (please be aware that these words come with a deserved slap round the head by one of your colleagues).

Robert Yardy

Published 10 April, 2014 by Robert Yardy

Robert Yardy is Marketing Manager at MMT Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with him on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Brings back memories of the "Pimp My Corsa" flash game that we implemented back in the day at email reaction, as a tongue-in-cheek marketing concept for the agency running the Corsa account.

The URL leaked somehow and it went viral with thousands of teens producing and sharing hilarious versions of this small family car. Sadly someone at the agency got scared at the IP implications and pulled the plug.

Fast forward to today, and you no longer need a CRM system to personalize your site.

A real-time marketing system can be cheap, simple, and not limited to web pages, with the same data and rules personalizing your email marketing too. For example:
http://www.triggeredmessaging.com/real-time-marketing/multi-channel/

over 2 years ago

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