Personalization and segmentation are closely related, but they are not the same thing.
They share a common goal (deliver content that reflects what the reader, viewer, or listener wants). But each technique approaches it differently.
Think this way.
Media companies like Disney segment their television audiences into groups have the same favorite. The audience for Disney Channel is different from the audience for ESPN, for example.
Streaming brands like Netflix personalized their programs by recommending new programs based on what they know about viewing behavior of the person or household .
Your content marketing program may use personalization, segmentation, or both at different times for different reasons.
We asked some of the experts who will be speaking at ContentTECH Summit next week about the similarities, differences, and practical implications of each approach. Here's their (slightly edited) explanation and advice.
Segmentation in planning, personalization for delivery
I will collect segmentation data for planning content calendar your own, narrow your goals, and understand the complexity of your audience. Personalization requires the use of segments and other data to deliver contextually relevant content on delivery.
Without understanding audience segmentation, you won't be able to personalize properly. For example, Netflix uses machine learning algorithms to segment their customer base, then personalizes content delivery by showing recommended content based on the idea that if you like X, then maybe you will like Y. The system believes that you will like Y because people in your same niche also like X and like Y. – Megan Gilhooly vice president of customer experience, Zoomin Software
Use rules and tagging to avoid manual overload
Segmentation is something that happens when preparing marketing assets – your approach to markets, different distribution channels, and ultimately the destinations or experiences you will bring your audience to.
The personalization element is really where it begins to come to life for buyers. When that happens, you can introduce personalization in ways as simple as knowing their name to deliver what someone is looking for at the right time.
It's hard to think about personalizing each buyer manually, one by one. That's why you need some segmentation rules. Once you can apply those through the asset tags, you can start thinking about putting things together. – Randy Frisch co-founder, chief marketing officer and president, Uberflip
Invest in infrastructure to scale up content reuse for effective personalization
Content personalization and extended content marketing share the same problem – the need for more and more content to satisfy the growing desire for customer attention. That solution is content reuse .
To effectively and efficiently reuse content, you must:
- Take long-form content and break it down into small, agile, reusable components without formatting
- Create new content using small, agile, reusable, format-free components
- Developing components using best practices for writing for reuse
- Organize and tag your content so it's easy to find
- Build as much informational content as you need by mixing and matching your ingredients
- Apply formatting to your informational content at the time of publication
You also need a single sourcing and component-based authoring infrastructure. Reusing the same content for new and different products saves time and money, and allows you to personalize content and scale. – Val Swisher Executive Director, Content Rules
Reusing the same content across different distributions saves time and money and allows you to personalize #content and scale,” said #ContentTECH speaker @ValSwisher via @CMIContent @semrush. Click to Tweet
Staff are great personalizers
Personalization means that you must send real people marketing communications from other real people. Personalization is not some automated approach to pretending that you care about your potential customers.
That's why we believe employee activation is the future of marketing. Encourage your employees to be active on social media, create content, share what they know, and connect with real people. It's the only way to achieve personalization that attracts the best employees and new customers to your business. – Michael Brenner CEO , Marketing Insider Group
Personalization means sending information about real people from other real people – that's why employee activation is the future of marketing, said speaker #ContentTECH @BrennerMichael via @CMIContent @semrush. Click to Tweet
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Segment for resonance – and measure impact
In one Content Research We just released, only 56% of marketers say they've created personalized content with a specific audience personality. This number is worryingly low. If you want to be groundbreaking, you need to have a specific personality when creating content.
You need to know your audience from the inside out. Tell them about their challenges, needs, and opportunities. And ideally, you should leverage a content marketing platform that allows you to tag each piece of content by personality, measure how well it's doing for each target group, and optimize your program. yours accordingly. – Joe Lazauskas Head of Content Strategy, Contently
Personalize for ABM's success
A hyper-personalization strategy can be a game changer for account-based marketing program . Individuals will feel like they are getting all the answers they need – almost like they have a personal shopper. They will feel like you are with them every part of their journey.
However, companies need to be on their guard against going down the dark, macabre route. If they're on your site and you haven't spoken to them before, it's not a job to show them that you know who they are. It's about listening to and taking advantage of the right signals and embodying them personalized value. – Jeff Coyle co-founder and chief strategy officer, MarketMuse
Start dynamic personalization – but don't overcomplicate it
Both personalization and segmentation shine when they are dynamic and responsive to the customer journey. Some static segments, such as creating and delivering content by personality, are worth it (especially if the personality is strong and up-to-date). But finally, real-time personalization Based on customer behavior will be even more effective as it is timely, personalized and super relevant to what the person is looking for at the time.
One potential pitfall of both personalization and segmentation is the temptation to get too complicated. With seemingly endless ways to slice and dice audience data, content marketing initiatives can become hyper-personalized and muddy the waters in judging which personalization works. is the most effective. It's best to start simple and choose the one or two most important criteria to focus on. – Ali Wert inbound marketing manager, SmartBug Media
You need both
The biggest mistake for both personalization and segmentation is not embarking on either strategy. Brands are missing out on key customer insights and optimizations if they aren't focused on personalization or audience segmentation (and scaling those efforts.)
Segmentation is valuable because it groups customers based on similar identifying characteristics, such as demographic information or similar digital behavior patterns. Brands can make recommendations to “customers like you” and help improve marketing campaign performance. Segmentation allows brands to learn more about their audience so that messaging and approach can be better tailored to the needs of their customers.
Personalization provides value in ensuring customers receive the most relevant and optimal experiences and messages for their individual needs. Personalization provides relevant information about where a customer is in their particular journey with the brand and can help ensure their questions are being answered. Personalization also helps drive conversions, customer retention, and helps build trust between customers and brands. – Jill Grozalsky product marketing manager, Experience Platform, Sitecore
As Jill said, the key to success is to have a personalization and segmentation strategy. Yes, your audience wants content tailored to their individual needs. It's also a smart way to gather collective wisdom across groups in your audience.
Are segmentation and personalization part of your content marketing strategy? How are you reaching them? Please share in the comments.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute