The first time Amazon suggested a book via their recommendation engine, I was completely awed.
The idea that a website could not only recognize a return visitor, but also discern their interests and alter their site experience accordingly felt like nothing short of magic. For instance, when I check Amazon's site, I can find numerous personalized recommendations just for me, and it still feels like a delight, every time.
In recent years, data-driven personalization has become more common. Though not entirely pervasive in the marketing space — perhaps due to a lack of understanding around how it really works. I mean, just what drives all this highly adaptive content?
More than that, how does adaptive content affect a lead's decision-making process? That's what we'll go to in this post. I'll break down the concept of "smart," or "dynamic" content, explain what it is, how it works, and give you some strategies for incorporating it into your marketing.
First, let's explain what dynamic content is and why it's important to use for your business.
What is Dynamic Content?
Smart content delights customers. When you utilize data-driven content, you can influence a lead's buyer journey. Let's talk about what exactly dynamic content means.
Dynamic content creates an experience that's customized specifically for the visitor or reader at that moment. One of the most well-known examples of smart content is Amazon's recommendation engine, which we talked about earlier. Other forms range from personalization fields in emails to entire images or offers on a webpage that shift based on who is looking at them.
For example, let's say I visit an ecommerce site for the first time. During this first visit, I browse around, click the "like" button on a few products, and maybe purchase something. When I come back a couple of weeks later, the home site has now changed to say "Welcome back!", and recommends items I might like based on my history.
I went to the website, made a purchase, and gave them my name. When I returned to the website, they used information gathered from my previous purchase to give me new product recommendations, and even greet me by name.
Dynamic content also works with ads. Earlier this morning, I browsed a cosmetics site I hadn't visited before. After closing the website, I opened Facebook, and all of my ads were from that company I'd just visited. Facebook chooses ads to show users based on their browsing history and interests, so when I visited that makeup website, Facebook found the ads from that business and displayed them on my feed.
Now that we have a basic understanding of dynamic content, let's take a look at how it’s working behind the scenes.
How Dynamic Content Works
The data collection works by scripts in a webpage's HTML that changes to make the page relevant to the user. This data is stored in the site's database, and is what's called a database driven website.
Database driven dynamic web content
A website that's driven by its database means that the website has content in its files that's considered to be dynamic. If the content was stored in its HTML files, it would be known as static.
To use dynamic content, a website needs to store user information in a database. This is because most of the content on these websites are stored in its database. The content is then used to create personalized experiences.
Ultimately, dynamic content is collected from what the user gives the website, such as an email address, first name, or shopping history. This data will be organized and stored in database driven websites with associated values — think of this as a filing system. The website then assess the need of the page and shows the viewer content that's relevant to the user.
There's two different types of content-based websites. Other than database driven, dynamic websites, there's websites that have its content stored in HTML files, known as static websites.
Next, let's go in deeper into the differences between dynamic and static websites and how they work together.
Dynamic content vs static content
As we've learned, dynamic content is powered by a database driven website. Static websites are powered by websites where the content isn't stored on a database, but rather HTML files.
Generally, most are used in static websites. To sum it up, static websites are the ones that don't recognize user behavior and change to be personalized. Think of pages you visit that don't change based on your past behavior, such as ecommerce sites that don't give you suggestions and marketing emails that don't mention you by name.
It might be a good idea to use static pages, if you don't have the time to devote to creating dynamic pages. Additionally, if you want to get more comfortable with running a website, static pages take less time to create, and you can still create a delightful experience for customers if you manage your website using software to update your pages seamlessly, like a CMS.
Even webpages that have a section similar to "Based on people you follow," like Twitter, are dynamic. There are awesome benefits to using dynamic websites, for instance, the personalized aspect can help improve KPIs like conversions and return visits.
Other benefits include an improved user experience, clean web design, and low maintenance. A page that's dynamic doesn't need to be constantly updated — it'll always be active.
Technology dynamic web pages use to be dynamic include:
- A Centralized Marketing Database — Your marketing database is the brain behind your dynamic content. It stores your contacts’ download and interaction history with your site.
- A Smart Content Generator — Informed by the database, a smart content generator will show or hide content (blocks of images or text) based on rules you set.
- Malleable Web Pages — A dynamic site has to be one that is easily editable and typically marketing-controlled, rather than run through another department like IT.
- An Integrated Email System — Extending smart content to the emails you send will require an email system that is tied into your contact database.
To sum it up, static content is easier to use and manage. Dynamic content thrills the viewer, but both can provide an engaging content to the reader if managed using the right software.
Let's take a look at some strategies that can help you create dynamic experiences.
Smart Content Marketing Strategies
Now that you know what smart content is and how it works, you should use it all the time without discrimination.
Just kidding. Actually, the bottom line with smart content is to make sure you're purposeful and intentional about its use. Smart content should create a better experience for your leads and customers.
When you're integrating smart content of any sort into your marketing strategy, it's a good idea to start with the question of how it will improve potential customers' time on your site or in your emails. Here are a few places to start if you're having trouble envisioning how to integrate smart content into your marketing.
Eliminate Repeat Conversions
If a website visitor has already downloaded a particular lead generation offer or purchased a particular item, you can use smart rules to remove that offer from their view. The result is two-fold: you'll create a website or shopping experience that never gets old for your customers, and create an opportunity for you as a marketer to expose fresh offers and products that boost reconversions.
To use smart rules, check for the option to add it to your CMS software. Alternatively, code it into your website. Here's a page on how to add a transaction ID into your dynamic page to eliminate a repeat conversion.
Lead the Lifecycle Stage
A lead's lifecycle stage refers to how far along the visitor is in his or her decision-making process. Is this their first visit? Are they ready to buy? Are they still evaluating options?
Taking what you know about how much experience a particular lead has can help you avoid over-selling to someone who is in the early stage of their research — or miss out on an opportunity to sell to someone who is ready to make a purchase.
The perfect remedy? Mapping content to the stages of a potential customer's buying cycle . This is typically done through a series of gradually evolving emails in a lead nurturing campaign. Smart content tools, like HubSpot's smart call-to-actions (CTAs) , can also extend this adaptability to your website and landing pages.
When you use smart CTAs, you are helping the customer along through every part of their journey.
Help Loyal Customers Skip Excess Steps
Many B2B companies offer content behind a form in order to generate leads. While this is a nice way to get to know new leads, it can be a hassle for customers who may be interested in the content, but have already filled out your forms previously.
Rather than having a customer fill out another form, using dynamic content recognizes a visitor as a customer and gives them a CTA. This CTA either minimizes the form fields or lets them bypass the download form entirely.
Reflect Different Industries or Personas
Most companies serve a number of personas from a variety of industries. While it may be difficult to tailor to every different industry you touch, dynamic content can help you create a highly customized experience for your highest-value industries.
Start by talking with your sales team about the different personas or industries with whom they have had the best success. Then pick one or two industries to focus in on at first as a test.
Use smart content to set a default, and then another set of images that reflect your top industry segments. In the example below, we've selected two images — one to represent the manufacturing industry, and another the healthcare industry. When anyone from those industries lands on a given page, this image will change to reflect that context.
Smart content leverages the valuable insights your visitors, leads, and customers have provided you with: their interests, preferences, and historical behavior. Make sure you put that knowledge to work by guiding and supporting your prospective customers with personalized content. Every potential buyer should be recognized as an individual with unique and evolving questions; smart content is one tool in your arsenal for creating marketing that's more personalized and tailored to their needs.