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How and Why to Create Smarter Content

For several years now people like me have been advising you to create educational content as a foundational element of your marketing – and many of you have listened and profited.

Smart Content

law_keven via Flickr CC

But, and you knew this was coming; it’s no longer enough. Now that pretty much everyone gets that content is a must, it’s time to send your content creation and distribution to school to get smarter and more sophisticated.

The technology that gives you the ability to tailor your web content to the more specific needs and attributes of individual visitors exists right now and is very affordable.

Smart marketers are using these tools to deliver entirely different web page, message, offer and browsing experiences tied to the history and known data of the visitor.

It just makes complete sense that someone that comes to your site by way of a very specific search term, for example, would respond better to content that specifically addresses why he or she came in the first place, rather than the default home page experience.

Starts with analytics

The engine that drives the smart content experience is data. To gain full access to this level of personalization you must use a tool such as Google Analytics or Spring Metrics (a client) that can allow you to access publicly available data on your visitors such as IP address and location.

You can further enhance this approach by integrating CRM data as well. Imagine how powerful it would be to deliver only upsell products to current customers or special offers and discount coupon content as a way to reward customer loyalty.

Social tells story

For years I’ve followed the notion that 20% of your customers offer the opportunity to produce 80% of your most profitable work and sales. This isn’t new math, most people get this, but the trick is oftentimes it is difficult to identify the 20% simply based on their past purchase behavior.

I believe that social media offers us one of the greatest opportunities to identify those 20% based on a layer of influence, sharing and activity. A seemingly small client, in terms of purchasing from you at the moment, may be your greatest referral source if treated as such. Adding the social layer of data allows you to put metrics to that assumption.

What would happen if, for instance, you were able to determine a customer visiting your site had a high Klout score and therefor equipped them with content, context and offers that made it easy for them to talk about you. We all know hotshot online folks that get all kinds of free stuff in hopes that they will talk about their experience. What if your content on your site could automate that for even the smallest business?

Location based content

In my mind, there are several very obvious uses for smart content. One of the first is location based. Imagine if you had a business with offices in a couple cities. What if you could deliver the hometown office info to visitors by city?

Services such as Get Smart Content are springing up to make this a very simple thing to do at the full page or even page region level. Imagine if you were holding an event in a specific community and wanted every visitor to your site from that community to get a sales message for that event while people from everywhere else got another message. Now you can.

Segment based content

Many businesses successfully sell multiple market segments that have very different needs. Imagine how powerful it could be to deliver market segment content based on how a visitor came to your site.

Get Smart Content founder Jim Eustace showed me a mini case study for truck dealership that sells a line of very green electric delivery vehicles as well as traditional commercial trucks. They found that it was rather easy to distinguish, through search queries, the very different content needed by these two market segments.

Cycle based content

By adding CRM type of data to the measurement mix you can customize content delivery on your site based on the history of a prospect. Someone that has come back to your site after requesting a free eBook by filling out a form or clicking on a link is probably ready for different information or even very specific product or service information based on their past activity.

There is no magic wand one can wave to make this work for every business. It is certainly a trial, test and refine project that will get it wrong from time to time, but even simple enhancements to what content gets featured and when can dramatically impact the initial and ongoing experience for your visitor and allow you to use content as a clear competitive point of differentiation.

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