CMA Digital Breakfast: Next wave of personalisation for content marketers

May 12th, 2016

Thanks to the latest technology tools you can now find out more about who is reading your content than ever before. And while this data can seem overwhelming, it can also be useful to help you shape the message accordingly and reduce the cost of acquisition.

Can content marketers personalise their message? And if what are the tools required both to find and target individual consumers? These were just some of the questions put to a panel of speakers at the CMA’s Digital Breakfast at Headspace in London’s Hatton Garden (May 11th, 2016).

According to Taboola’s Senior Content Strategist, Inbar Yagur – a self-confessed ‘dataphobe’ before starting at the company which specialises in placing content-based widgets on the bottom of articles – content marketing is still very far from an exact science.

Using her own experience, she talked about how all of the members of her family bought nappies for her child, but only she is targeted with content marketing messages.

However, she warned about taking too much of a scientific approach when it comes to creating content marketing. “A lot of people forget there is a person behind the number,” she said. “Part of the problem is that data has become so prevalent, we use it to dictate our decision making.” Often this is because the person signing off on the budget needs data to justify the digital expenditure. However, the problem is that data can not only be skewed, but what’s being measured – such as page views, dwell time or bounce rate – may not be a very accurate indication of return on investment (ROI).

According to Yagur, good quality content can help ‘fill in data gaps’ and help harness everybody. “I’m not saying abandon your targeting, I’m saying rather than have targeting inform how you distribute your content, have some form of content that informs who you are targeting.” Yagur claimed this ‘spray and pray’ method of distribution can help to bring you or your client’s content to a new audience. “It might not be suitable for everything, but there is something really great about letting people ‘self select’ your content.”

Arguably as important as targeting a particular demographic, said Yagur, is getting the type of content you want to distribute to people right in the first place. One example she used was of a client marketing a dating website who changed an article from ‘10 tips to impress on a first date’ to ‘8 reasons to try online dating’ because it was more relevant to those who had never tried online dating. As a result, cost per acquisition fell to $6, well below the $9 target.

Other examples included a brand marketing mattresses which never mentioned beds in its content marketing strategy and US food company Plated which saw a massive fall in CPA (cost per acquisition) after conducting research that showed the people who wanted its recipes and ingredients delivered to the door were those who were already interested in cooking.

For Dr Andrew Ko, CEO and Co-Founder of Manchester-based TopicDNA, technology can help content marketers find out more about their audiences than ever before, but isn’t without its drawbacks. “With current tools you might get a list of how many people have talked about your product, but they don’t tell you much, if anything, about their individual interests.” His company, on the other hand, has developed a social media profiling tool, which uses social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, to build up an immense amount of detail about each user, such as a particular sport they enjoy or type of music they listen to. “It’s like the difference between a thermometer that tells you the temperature of social and a thermostat that lets you see whether you are hitting the right target audience and do something about it.”

TopicDNA works by cleaning up ‘messy data’ before classifying information from social media accounts into various topics and interest groups within that topic. For example, the company’s social profiling tool was used recently to help BT Sport establish that potential new customers would be interested in food and drink. “Through our analysis they were able to establish their audience loved celebrity chefs.” Similarly, TopicDNA recently worked with a new alcoholic drinks brand without its own large social media base. Unsure exactly who the brand’s market was, TopicDNA was able to use its social media profiling tool to deduce from those who tweeted about the drink that their customers were likely to be supporters of Manchester United, have an interest in designer brands, yet do their grocery shopping at Morrisons!

But just how useful is it to target certain types of users – or profiles – with your content marketing? Not very, reckons Daryll Scott, Director, Human Technology at Lab. “The problem is that you can end up communicating with people as if they are profiles, rather than paying attention to the actual responses you are getting from them,” he told the audience at the CMA Digital breakfast. An expert in neuro-marketing, Scott claims that consumers often make decisions which are both ‘emotional and irrational’.

Rather than thinking about different profiles of consumers, brands need to think about how different parts of the brain work and how these can best be triggered. These include the limbic (emotional), neocortex (rational) and contextual parts of the brain which he defines using various animal characteristics – dog, lion and monkey, respectively.

Whereas some content marketing campaigns are designed to appeal to our base (limbic) emotions defined by a dog, others are more focused to trigger the lion (rational) and monkey (contextual) parts of the brain. An example he gave was a campaign his company worked on for subscription razor blades. Whereas before the messaging was purely focused around price (‘£9.45 for 8 Mach 3 blades’), this was changed to trigger an emotional response (‘refuse to pay £14.99 for your blades’) and as a result the cost per acquisition fell significantly from £10 to £4.62.

Clearly getting the messaging right is important for any content marketing campaign. But having the right technology tools at your disposal to help learn more about your audience and shape your message accordingly can prove a massive advantage in increasing effectiveness and reducing cost.

Commissioned by The CMA
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