Anyone who works on a website knows that one of the most
discussed topics is content targeting, how it works, why it matters,
and how to do it. And right now, one of our favorite topics is about creating,
managing and targeting content to specific personas.
But where does this all lead? As new devices and technologies continue to
revolutionize how people can find, interact with and experience content, that
also means that how marketers target content is changing too. What does that future hold? Here are a few trends I see that are changing
and will continue to change how marketers can find and engage prospects,
turning them into loyal customers.
In the past few years, the digital
world has been transformed by mobile, social and local technologies.
Combine those new technologies and all their underlying data with the
number of digital screens that are now virtually everywhere, and you can
see why we are just getting started when it comes to content targeting.
Mobile brings with it a new set of capabilities, from
geo-location, to cameras, accelerometers, and has ushered in the touch screen
era. Social networking may feel like its
been around forever, but that just means its now mainstream. When you think of location-focused
technologies, you may think of check-ins on Foursquare or something as simple
as driving directions. Touch screens
are everywhere, from printers, to remote controls, refrigerators, to even my
new coffee maker. Digital display ads
are everywhere too, from the back of a taxicab to elevators, to city bus
stops. And in your house, its not just
small screens, most new TVs run apps and browse the web. The list goes on and on. These factors combine to impact two
trends. First, how do individuals react
and adapt to what has become message bombardment. And second, how will
marketers use all of this new data they have at their disposal?
Today, many retailers will provide you with their closest
location when you visit their websites from a smartphone while you have geo-location turned on. But we’re just getting started using
location to target content. I’ve
downloaded the app to my favorite restaurant, so I can order online and pick it
up on my way home. I drive by it all the
time. It’s right on my way home, and I
stop there about once every 2 weeks. We
tend to have a few favorite dishes that we order consistently too. That same app knows who I am, and can tell
from my phone where I am. I’ve connected
it into their loyalty program too, so I can earn points to a free meal too. That restaurant now knows, what I like, and
what my habits and behaviors are..
Now what happens if I stop ordering takeout every 2
weeks? Soon enough, that restaurant will
be able to figure out that I haven’t been in in a while, and when I drive
nearby, they will be able to target me with an alert on my phone with a coupon
for a free entrée that I used to order.
They can personalize it just to me “Hi Bill, we’ve missed you. Please order online again, and the salmon
entrée is on us.” Now just think about
how that targeted content will increase my loyalty to that restaurant, and get
me to come back for another order. It’s
No one will dispute that social media has become amazing way
to communicate, and for marketers gain insight into who is engaging with
you. While it may feel like social has
been around forever, we are still in the early days. The social graph is essential a person’s
digital footprint online. I think
marketers will really start to drill into the social graph to discover even
more data about their visitors.
Let’s look at Facebook as an example. Facebook is already a very useful tool for
marketers when determining what people’s interests and likes are. While
many organizations gain insight into how their fans on Facebook interact with a
Facebook page, only a handful, outside of big consumer brands, are really using
the information in the Facebook social graph. This is one of the reasons that
Facebook has made changes to how it shares information, and what’s public
versus what’s private. In my opinion,
this is a clear attempt to try to make more information available via their
social graph. That information is
already becoming a treasure trove, and will continue on this path for
Think about a scenario for a college or university. That school wants to target alumni to donate
to support sports programs. But they
don’t have great information on what sports alumni who graduated before 2000
actually like. The school could conduct
a survey to asking people provide details on what sports they like. But that survey is static. It won’t capture visitors who join the site
after the survey is conducted. Or, they
could ask visitors to the site to login via Facebook.
That very simple act of a login now means that the school
doesn’t have to conduct that survey.
They can mine the graph and figure out that a particular alumni likes,
say a basketball team. It doesn’t even
have to be the school’s team. As long as an individual hasn’t explicated turned
off how that data is shared across Facebook, the school now has an easy to
figure out if an individual is a good candidate to donate to support the
basketball program. And that will
continue over time, as new visitors login to the alumni site via Facebook, the
school can know a lot about them and use that to target content.
Stepping away from higher education for a moment, lets go
back to my favorite restaurant. What
happens when they combine everything they already know about me from their app
and loyalty program with everything they can learn from me about Facebook? The possibilities for new ways for that restaurant
to target me are now almost endless.
One of the
most powerful examples of where content targeting is headed is with Google
Now. If you have a current Android
device, you’ve probably been amazed, or perhaps creeped out by this. If you are in the Apple mobile device camp,
check out the latest version of the Google Search app, make sure you are logged
in and see what it does for you. And this will be coming to Chrome browsers
targets individuals with relevant content based on location, their schedule, searches
and what they are doing or have done.
Google Now targets you with a traffic update and travel time details on you
how long it takes to get to and from work, because it knows where you live and
work, and when you leave. It targets
you with information about what the weather- not only where you are, but also where
you work, and even where you are headed on a trip. It targets you when a package has shipped, or
been delivered. It targets you with you
the status of a flight you are taking and even shows you your boarding
pass. What’s amazing about this is its
all extremely relevant information that Google figures out by looking at where
you are, what you search for, what your calendar has on it, and what has come
into your inbox
If you are a
fan of Google Now like I am, you may be thinking, this doesn’t feel like targeting,
its just useful information. True, it’s
useful, because it is relevant, and its contextual, and therefore a perfect
example of targeting. Google is amassing even more information about you the
more you interact with it. And they can
then take the data they learn about you in Google Now, use that to refine
search results, and more effectively sell their ad space to other
marketers. And they get smarter and
smarter the more you use it. Google is
bringing context to its targeted content, but on steroids. Because of this, Google delivers a user
something before the user realizes they even want it. To me, that’s really awesome.
Now I don’t
see digital marketers being able to do everything that Google can do to target
you in the immediate future, but this is a primary example of where we are
headed. It’s also perhaps a bit scary. The underlying component here, of course is
search. Tying searches on Google or
other search engines, or searches on your website to dynamically providing
relevant content to a visitor is possible today, but doing so usually requires
a bunch of custom web development. In
the not so distant future that will get much easier and easy to use tools
for marketers will really help organizations target more effectively.
Every organization we talk to has a number of different
systems of experience where they store information about their prospects and
customers. This universe usually
includes CRM, Marketing Automation System and Analytics, and of course a CMS,
but it can also include other systems.
Some organizations use APIs and web development to tie all these systems
together with their website. But the
vast majority have siloed systems, or if they are connected, those connections
aren’t very deep.
Being able to target based on a unified view of a visitor,
using data across the universe of systems, means that many of the trends above
can start to materialize. What
previously took massive data warehouses, ongoing development resources, and
expensive technologies that only the largest enterprise could afford is now
something that organizations of any size can take advantage of. Marketers now have the right technologies at
their fingertips to easily target based on location, social data search
queries, and other firmographic, demographic, and behavioral attributes.
This is just
the start. With the multitude of
screens, and the number of digital messages that we each receive every day
rising exponentially, the only way to stand out, the only way to connect, the
only way to engage, will be to figure out how to target the right content, to
the right person at the right time. All
of these trends are the foundation of what will continue to be an extremely
exciting time for marketers.
Check Out The 4 C's Of Content Targeting