How to Personalize Your Content Based on Lifecycle Stage

November 21, 2014 Mike Klevorn

179225452Spanning the course of human history, never has the consumer had more currency, influence, and power than today. Why is this? Some call it “The Power of One”, but in short that means the consumer dictates their own buying journey and controls their own interaction with a brand.

Think about it. If a consumer doesn’t want to see your commercials on TV, they simply fast forward with their DVR. If they don’t want to see your ad online, all it takes is a single click to rid them of your world. In fact, as content consumers, we are actually quite skilled at avoiding content we don’t want to see.

That is why it is paramount that companies recognize this shift and fundamentally change the way they market. Yet, many of the largest corporations have yet to realize this truth. One of the most basic human needs is to be valued as an individual. In short, they connect for affirmation, inclusion, commitment, and respect.

So, as a marketer, where do you start for personalizing your content? I have found it best to focus on lifecycle stage, to ensure your content is speaking to your leads’ needs and wants.

Greet People on Their Terms

Online, people choose to see your content – not the other way around. Remember, they possess the control to start and end the conversation. Your job is to create extraordinary content that attracts their attention and speaks to their interests. At Marketing Matters Inbound, we use something called the 4 E’s of Inbound Marketing:

  • Educate – customer research stage
  • Engage – customer consideration/shopping stage
  • Encourage – customer purchase stage
  • Embrace – loyal customer re-purchase stage

For example, if your prospect is in the education phase, you’re not going to immediately ask for sale. It’s a lot like proposing on the first date; it would be really awkward and premature. Instead, great them, educate them on their terms, and trust your lead nurturing and resources.

Communicate in Their Language

You would not talk to a one year old and 10 year old the same way. Similarly, you would not talk to a CEO the same way as a junior level associate. Their pain points and life experience will be drastically different. That is why persona development is so important when developing content. A persona is a semi-fictional, generalized character that encompasses the needs, goals, and behavior patterns of your potential customers. This helps segment and target these individuals for stronger marketing campaigns.

Each persona will have different buzzwords based on their lifecycle stage, so that you can speak to your lead directly. In general, these words resonate with different lifecycle stages:

  • Subscriber: troubleshoot, issue, resolve, risk, upgrade, improve, optimize, prevent
  • Lead: solution, provider, service, supplier, tool, device, software, application
  • Marketing Qualified Lead/Sales Qualified Lead/Opportunity: compare, vs, versus, compensation, pros and cons, benchmarks, review, test

Be Multidimensional

The issue with content is that you will need to target the right persona, with the product vertical, that is presented at the right moment in the buyer’s journey. If just one of these conditions is off, well, so will your website conversions and sales will suffer.

While that may seem very granular, that is the cost of true personalization and inbound marketing success. Here’s an example from one of our actual clients who sells motorcycles. If you offer test rides in content focused around “students learning to ride” at the decision phase of the customer journey, your campaign would fall flat. Why would a student learning to ride care about a test ride? They can’t even take one.

Relevance and Context

It’s not uncommon to read a blog that has little or no relevance or context to the personas or their lifecycle stage. When this happens, it is usually one of two reasons. Either the writer does not understand the audience or they are running out of ideas.

If you are going to connect and convert a website visitor, relevance and context is paramount. One of the best places to reconnect with your prospects’ needs is found within your analytics. There are many nuggets of information to be found. You can see what terms people are finding your website with, and which of those are getting the most traffic and leads. The answers are right in front of you. All you need to do is listen.

There you have it, how to personalize your content based on lifecycle stage! But, this is only a small piece of the puzzle. Take the next step and download our ebook, "The Beginner's Guide to Inbound Marketing".

This article originally appeared on Marketing Matters Inbound's blog. Marketing Matters Inbound is a HubSpot Partner located in St. Louis, MO.

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