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The business world remains in constant motion and marketing is no different. With new marketing technologies and means of connecting with customers, companies need to remain in constant state of change and optimization in their quest to improve its products, productivity and production. In fact, in recent years, the use of personalization strategies and technology as a means for staying ahead of the competition has significantly influenced the way businesses market and grow branding efforts. Because of this, content marketing has been shifting in the last few years. Content personalization has grabbed the market's attention as widespread adoption of the personalization technologies and techniques occur. To stay competitive and achieve a higher return on investment in marketing expenses, it is becoming more and more critical to use personalization as one of the main tactics within an overall content marketing strategy. Failure to do so will likely be a mistake for any business in the long run.

What is Personalization?

A more detailed overview on personalization, what it is and how to implement it is available in a previous post located here. As well as a discussion of how CMS personalization can help convert more leads. However, as a general overview, personalization is when a website provides a customized, unique experience for each visitor to the site. So, instead of providing a universal website with the same displays and highlighted content, the unique experience is tailor made to better serve the specific visitor. By improving services and connectivity to the visitor, the likelihood of a sale or website conversion increases dramatically (Optimizely, 2017). 

The Personalized Experience

The idea of a personalized experience is nothing new. In fact, offering unique shopping and purchasing experiences to consumers has been around for centuries. From monogrammed bath robes to customized sneakers, personalized experiences are offered by companies for two reasons. The first is to provide a premium service, above and beyond the average purchase. A personalized set of wine glasses gives a unique, one-of-a-kind feet to it, all while the produce sells for more. The second is to stand out from the competition and attract in customers. 

With more and more companies now providing personalized services, it has become more of the norm than the exception. Major corporations such as Nike allowed customers to personalize just about everything purchased from the company, while Coca-Cola offers what it refers to as a "Freestyle" machine, which gives patrons access to 100s of flavor combinations. However, customization does not simply begin with a consumer coming into a facility to purchase goods or visiting a website in search of products. The personalization designed for new leads or prospects must begin at the first contact or first interaction. This is when a consumer or visitor is first made aware of the company and the services and products it offers. In other words, through an advertisement or other marketing effort (Forbes, 2016). 

How to Personalize Content Marketing

Whenever a company interacts with a potential customer, there is the opportunity to make a sale or, at the very least, develop a lead. This interaction should leave a desirable impression on the consumer, and the most powerful tool to do this is to personalize content. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Lux Research (2017), consumers are willing to pay more money for a personalized experience. 

Google and Amazon are two pioneers of personalization. The head of Amazon famously said early on in the existence of the website, if the company had a million customers he'd rather have one million versions of Amazon instead of one. As personalization has become more expected than anything else though, simply providing product recommendations on a store front no longer cuts it. Sending a customer discounts off of similar items they purchased monthly in the mail isn't enough either. These are all staples of companies that have already connected with a consumer. Content marketing personalization is about connecting with a consumer the business has not yet sold to. Thankfully, personalizing content marketing doesn't need to be overtly complex. 

There are three easy steps to personalizing content marketing. For starters, the marketing material should not be bogged down with unnecessary information. It is always best to keep it simple over attempting to put too much information in. Providing recommendations based on both history and interest helps catch the customer's attention. 

The second step is to customize the marketing message to fit the need of the customer. Not all customers have the same needs, so the best way to connect with a potential client is to create a unique message. By taking into account the customer's age, location, history and other data collected off of the customer's IP address, it becomes easier to tailor forge a unique message. 

Lastly, the content needs to be current. Not all customers want to be trend setters, but a vast majority want to go with what is new. Outdated marketing material, including images and other forms of media, can turn off a perspective customer. This is true not only for content produced several years ago but for a different season entirely (One Spot, 2017). 

By taking into account these three steps and the information collected on the consumer, it becomes far easier to create advertisements with a personalized touch to it. The personalization should carry on through the marketing approach all the way through the website. For businesses not currently utilizing personalization in its marketing approach, it doesn't take much additional effort to customize the company's outreach potential. Despite this, there are businesses throughout the United States failing to incorporate these three simple steps in producing their personalized marketing and consumer outreach.

Why Some Marketers Do Use Personalization

Despite the proven benefit of content marketing personalization, many companies still turn a blind eye to the potential personalizing their content. Growing sales and increasing customer engagement through the use personalization can provide improved forms of communication and perceived value to customers and website visitors. Why do some marketers skip out on almost a sure fire way of boosting sales? According to a survey conducted by Demand Metric, 59% of marketers stated a lack of technology. In addition, many claimed that they did not have the necessary resources as one of the main reasons for failure to properly adopt personalization techniques. 

Not taking advantage of content marketing personalization due to a lack of resources or technology simply is no longer a viable option, however. The risk of falling behind is too great and the advantages too enticing for marketing departments to wait to explore personalization options. Gartner published a study in 2015 indicating companies utilizing personalized elements within its content marketing would outsell those companies not using the marketing approach by at least 20% in 2018. As 2018 stands right around the corner, dropping by a 20% sales amount to the competition simply because of a "lack of technology" will fall more and more flat as an excuse. It also may be the reason why some companiesvstruggles to survive or even go out of business. Businesses with the available technology and resources will not take it easy on the competition. With the value of personalized content marketing increasing by the day, there are no more excuses. For a company to reach its fullest sales and growth potential, it must take advantage of personalized content marketing. 

Customers have come to expect a personalized shopping experience. Convenience isn't the only reason more consumers purchase goods through online retailers than in-person. The ability to receive a personalized service while visiting a website makes the entire visit to a website more beneficial and desirable for the consumer, which keeps them coming back. With the implementation of personalization, content marketing will never be the same, and businesses dragging their feet to bring about such advertising changes will suffer from the lack of customer connectivity. For any business serious about customer growth and providing the best shopping experience possible, personalizing content market is a must. Delaying any longer is simply no longer an option.