Part 2: Take your content personalisation to the next level

by , Author and Executive Director, Experience at AvenueCX

This is the second of three posts in our content personalisation series. If you missed it, here’s part one on Getting started with content personalisation. In part two, Kevin Nichols shares advice to help take your content personalisation to the next level.

Have you attempted to roll out personalisation in your organisation in some form or another? Perhaps you tied content personalisation to a website redesign. Or you leveraged personalised content to enhance your email campaigns. Often, when personalisation is tied to a singular channel or project, the effort reveals that personalisation can achieve certain business objectives, such as increasing customer engagement with a website. But more likely, the effort falls short in delivering sustained results, or making a larger impact on your organisation.

The most effective personalisation requires a holistic content strategy and strategic roadmap. If you’ve begun adding some personalisation and are ready to take it to the next level, you can always make it more effective with a strategy that looks at your customers, content, and business objectives from an enterprise perspective. The great news for those who have started adding personalisation is that your experience provides lessons learned from which to build a broader strategy to evolve your personalisation process.

Crafting the best personalisation strategy

Your first priority is to develop a cohesive content strategy or to reverse engineer what you already have. As Kathy illustrated in her previous article, all effective personalisation strategy begins with the customer. With that in mind, start by validating or defining your personalisation goals, objectives and criteria for success. To do so:

You can use the following example as a starting point for this process:

Draw from your previous experience to define a roadmap of short-, mid- and long-term personalisation efforts. Remember, for personalisation, it’s best to start small. You may want to use a proof of concept approach to rollout personalisation that represents a lower-priority product category or services division that you can test before a larger rollout. Remember that personalisation is a means and not an end. It requires ongoing analysis and audits to refine and optimise its effects. The following shows a high-level roadmap example:

Notice how Launch activities ensure operational readiness to support personalisation, using persona identification, content planning, personalisation logic development and controlled vocabulary design. Having an effective tracking mechanism in place, such as an analytics approach and dashboard, will also prove critical as you develop and evolve personalisation. An analytics approach will help you stand personalisation up for continual success for your customers and the internal business groups that will leverage it. Each subsequent phase in your roadmap should be influenced by learnings from your previous efforts.

Develop a performance-based model

Set up a model to measure performance and govern the quality of the overall effort.

This image shows a governance and editorial model that supports personalisation and fuels its effectiveness. As the image conveys, several factors go into the personalisation readiness. These factors enable you to evaluate continually the efficacy of your personalisation experiences. They include: analytical tools, processes and committees. As you learn more, you will be able to optimise future personalisation content and functionality.

When you put your model in place—the roadmap and the strategy—make sure that you gain the clear and open alignment of stakeholders’ goals and determine how ownership is distributed for anything related to personalisation. Remember that you must have the content to support personalisation, so take into account such tools as a content calendar. Think through which content is required. You will need to develop specific content that is written for a persona or for a discrete step within a buyer’s journey. Early on in the customer’s journey, you may want content that answers the question of “why your company?” or “why your product?”. In later stages, you will want to create content to ensure mutual loyalty between you and your customers.

Part of the strategy is the continual creation and integration of new content. Plan to have the folks to create and support it on an ongoing basis. Remember that you may also leverage curated and syndicated content to support your personalisation experience. User-generated content and social media content can also factor into your overall customer experience. You may have to start out with personalising content for only a few priority products and segments, if you don’t have the ability to produce timely and relevant content.

Finally, make sure you bring all business units and groups together to govern and control your content effectively. Personalisation requires continual assessments, and a team pulled from the spectrum of stakeholder should be in place to make decisions on how best to act on learnings. By putting these structures in place—strategy, roadmap, editorial process and governance—you will create a personalisation approach that will benefit your business well past the short term. You will succeed in delivering meaningful and usable, contextual content to your customer experiences.

If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the recording of our recent webinar, How to make sure your organisation is ready for content personalisation.

About the Author

Author and Executive Director, Experience at AvenueCX

Kevin P. Nichols is an award-winning thought leader, digital industry enthusiast, and author with more than 20 years of professional experience. In 2014, he coauthored (with Donald Chesnut) UX For Dummies and in 2015, Enterprise Content Strategy: A Project Guide. Recently, Kevin left his position of Global Head of Content Strategy at SapientNitro, where Kevin grew that team to become one of the largest and most successful in the world. Currently, Kevin is devoting his time to promoting and developing his personal brand. Kevin has been a forerunner and major contributor to user experience and content strategy. He has authored numerous articles on content strategy, user experience, personalization, omnichannel and digital strategy. You can learn more about him at His Twitter handle is @kpnichols.

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