Dynamic Content: making content unique for each visitor

This is a guest post by *Linda Forshaw - Websites have come a long way since the days when they were essentially an online brochure that presented the same information each and every time a customer paid a visit. Blogs, RSS feeds, content management systems - they have all played an important role in changing brochure-ware into more dynamic pieces of online real estate. Dynamic content goes one step further.
Dynamic content can be defined as those aspects of content on a webpage that change according to the profile of a visitor to a website or the history of their interactions with a company. Perhaps the most easily understandable example of dynamic content in practice is that of retail site Amazon who provide different purchase suggestions for each visitor according to the data they hold about that visitor in terms of previous searches, purchases, and other interactions.
Adapting website content to each unique visitor goes a long toward fulfilling the desire of marketers to guide potential customers and leads intuitively down the sales funnel. By creating experiences unique to each customer or, at the very least customer segment, brands can actively engage those customers in different ways; adapting their approach to each customer to maximise the possibility they will enjoy their experience and ultimately convert.
Convert? That all important and slightly magical word that all marketers love to hear. While deploying dynamic content methodologies does not automatically mean that every visitor to your site or every recipient of your email will become a paying customer, it does tend to reward you better results than non-targeted content. According to a Jupiter Research report The ROI of E-Mail Relevance, a targeted email campaign can result in 18x more revenue than that of a broadcast campaign. That’s hardly insignificant.
HubSpot, in their free downloadable guide to dynamic marketing, identify four key tools that are required in order to achieve dynamic content in your marketing mix.
Centralized Marketing Database
Your database acts as a central deposit for all the information you hold about a particular contact. It stores historic download and interaction data.
Editable Web Pages
Dynamic content works best if you have easy access to your own site. If even the smallest of changes have to go through a third party, making any updates to your site will result in delays.
Smart Content Generator
A smart content generator does exactly what it says on the tin; generates (or hides) smart (dynamic) content blocks. You set the rules as to how the generator behaves based on information held in your centralised marketing database.
An Integrated Email System
This is not essential but a definite nice-to-have. If your email system is integrated into your marketing database, you can just as easily deliver dynamic content via email as you can through your website.
Once you have the key tools in place, setting up dynamic content is fairly straightforward. It is likely that an increasing number of businesses will start to use the methodology in their marketing mix. Will your business be one of them?
*Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. A leading contributor to college ranking site Degree Jungle.com, she is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay.

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