Personas have been used for a number of years by B2B digital marketers to craft content that aligns with a visitor’s context. But we all know that personas are also so… 2015. The rise in personalization has revealed both the limits and challenges of persona-based content creation — creating and maintaining content for every persona is a lot of work and getting that content in front of the visitor at the right time is tricky.
Move from personas to personalization
In order to get that content in front of the right person, you have to know a bit about the visitor. Usually that’s done with either first party or third party data that you’ve gathered or obtained about the visitor. But both regulatory changes (see GDPR) and industry practices (see ITP 2.1) are going to limit the effectiveness of such tracking in the near future. So you’re going to have to take a different approach to identifying and segmenting users.
Using behavior data and contextual data for segmentation is one way to be able to deliver relevant content in an environment where persona data may not be available. With this approach, visitors don’t need to hand over any personal data for you to best understand who is visiting your site and what their goals are, and what content they need to see to progress their journey.
There are two types of behavioral data
- Historical behavior: What pages have they visited? What have they viewed on the site? What articles did they read? Where have they clicked? What content have they downloaded? Marketers (especially with the help of advanced technology like text analytics and machine learning) can make use of all of this aggregate behavioral and contextual data to model patterns that are associated with task achievement.
- Real-time behavior: Models are great, but putting them to work is where the magic happens. The real-time data related to a particular customer’s experience (the pages they look at and the context of those pages)is compared to the model. Task predictions take place and content effective at progression towards those tasks are presented to users. At a minimum, contextual data can be used to recommend related content.
Understanding past behavior is the critical input to being able to predict effective future journeys. This type of personalization reduces the workload on content creators because it maximizes the use of content that you already have on your website. It’s also content that your visitors have already told you is effective.
How do you use behavioral personalization on your site?
Getting started with personalization can be difficult. Many integrated MarTech stacks include personalization capabilities but many companies don’t use those capabilities. Often that comes down to one of two choke points: IT teams enabling some of the capability, and/or content teams creating the content to be presented.
Behavioral personalization can mitigate some of those concerns by using the content that you already have, data that’s readily available, and easy to deploy technologies to offer content suggestions that progress journeys towards completion.
Despite fitting your persona classification, your visitors and prospects are wildly diverse with no two achieving their objectives in the same way. No amount of information about demographics or firmographics will help solve that journey diversity problem. Behavioral data packs a wealth of knowledge about not just your visitor, but their relationship to your products. Use that and you’ll connect more visitors with the content that matters.