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Why and How You Should Use Personalized Content

Learn more about the benefits of personalized content and some of the top practices for your own content strategy.

By now, it is no surprise to anyone in the world of marketing that content is a critical part of any strategy. However, even the best content in the world might get skipped over unless it is also interesting to each individual viewer. With so many advertisements inundating the web and dozens of calls-to-action at every turn, it is challenging to capture the attention of users online.

One effective way to stand out from the crowd is through the use of content that has been personalized directly to the viewer. From targeted landing pages to personalized emails, find out how personalizing content can translate to more effective, persuasive and relevant content for your target audience.

The Benefits of Personalizing Content

Personalizing content to your audience brings in a number of benefits. A few of the most advantageous include increased engagement, funneling budget to the right ads and audiences, the ability to meet the expectations of your customers and overall better results for content campaigns.

First, consider this scenario. Imagine that you create an ad to show on Facebook for your business and that you pay to have it seen by a random collection of 5,000 Facebook users. There is a good chance that, through this ad, your business would receive some attention on social media, increased website traffic and even some sales. Now, imagine that your business sells running gear for women and that you specifically targeted female runners on Facebook. This personalized approach means that your business is likely going to see far more sales, traffic and engagement as a result.

Every business has a limited budget, whether that budget is for advertising, production or labor. As a result, all businesses that want to be successful will aim to be as efficient as possible in their spending. Whether your online marketing budget is $1,000 per year or $100,000,000 per year, the goal of efficient spending still applies. Overall, it makes far more sense to put your ad dollars where they can reach the most receptive audience. Personalizing content means that you can customize content for set groups and then encourage those specific groups to see the content.

Personalizing content can also better meet the expectations of your customers. Often, customers know what they need, but they aren’t sure how to get that across to businesses. If you can swoop in and already have an idea of what they want, you can meet their expectations right off the bat and impress users and customers with your services or products.

Drawbacks of Personalized Content and How to Avoid Them

Clearly, personalizing content can be advantageous for many different types of businesses. However, it is worth considering the drawbacks of personalized content and how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls. There is a growing concern for privacy among consumers, and that should not be ignored. In addition, there can be a strong negative reaction if personalized content greatly misses the mark. Lastly, businesses need to pay attention to the costs of personalizing content.

There is a growing phenomenon where individuals talk about something with friends and then see that topic of discussion pop up in an ad later on while online. You might discuss a trip to Hawaii with your spouse and then get an email about a discount on a Honolulu hotel, or you might discuss the idea of buying a treadmill over brunch and then see treadmill ads all over Instagram shortly afterward. To a lot of people, this is more than just personalization: It is an invasion of privacy. While these businesses are in fact meeting the needs and expectations of consumers, it can be unsettling to some. To avoid consumers associating your brand with a lack of privacy, avoid hyper-personalization. Do not feel the need to be too specific with content, and switch up messaging occasionally to make the conversation feel organic.

Another problem to avoid is overconfidence with personalization. Say, for example, that a man opens up his email inbox and finds an offer for 25% off women’s clothing that makes the user feel uncomfortable. This very incorrect assumption about the recipient is not only not going to result in a sale, but it might well end up in the spam folder. When in doubt, generic content is probably a safer choice than a guess that could be wildly off base.

Who is Personalizing Content?

Many, many companies are personalizing content in order to reach the right audience in a targeted, specific way. Virtually every company, for example, advertises on social media, a process that has now become highly personalized. Major companies also send personalized emails and even offer up personalized landing pages on search engines.

In B2B marketing, or business to business marketing, contact forms are often used to collect specific information about a potential business customer. If a buyer hails from a certain industry or a certain city, that information can be used to create customized content. Rather than sending one email out to all B2B contacts, businesses can create several versions of the content and send each recipient customized content.

On social media, companies can run ads that are targeted to specific demographics. A resort in the Bahamas can post a sponsored advertorial geared toward families that talks about child-care options at the resort as well as an advertorial talking about romantic honeymoon activities for newlywed couples. This personalized content can be run as ads, and the resort can target a specific audience for each version of its content.

In these ways, almost any business can personalize content for their desired audience. Political groups can target likely voters, and companies can advertise to likely consumers. Customizing content is an obvious choice for any organization that wants to meet the needs and expectations of their audience in fewer steps.

Best Practices and Strategies for Personalized Content

Now that you’re aware of the benefits of personalizing content, it is time to put a plan into action. Just a few of the most effective strategies include personalizing CTA buttons, targeting email campaigns, creating a system for instant chat with customers and interacting with consumers to create personalized profiles. As far as best practices are concerned, aim for varied messaging, begin name dropping and create content that appeals to specific groups.

A CTA, or call-to-action, is a key part of any online strategy. However, many businesses are still using generic calls-to-action like “Click Here” or “Find Out More”. In some cases, those CTAs might be appropriate. For a personalized approach, a more specific CTA could be helpful. Examples of personalized CTAs might include the following:

• See More Women’s Shoes
• Find The Perfect Preschool in Your Area
• Meet the Candidate in Your Town
• View Health Insurance Plans for Families

The best email lists contain the email addresses and information of interested, relevant individuals. If your business has curated such a list, make the most of it by categorizing your contacts. These categories will depend heavily on your audience, the information you have collected and what your organization does or sells. Some email lists can be broken down by gender, age, income or geographic location, as just a few examples. Once you have done this, you can create multiple versions of the content you send out via email so that every recipient gets targeted, relevant information in their inbox.

What could be more personalized than a direct conversation with a consumer? Arguably one of the best ways to customize content on an individual level is to engage in instantaneous conversations. Of course, cold calling isn’t always well received, but online chat is a growing area of communication. If users on your website can click on the chat box and start talking to a representative of your business right away, they can be directed to custom content. Better yet, the conversation itself will be personalized. During this communication, information on the user can also be collected and stored for the future, allowing for even more targeted emails, ads and landing pages based on the user’s needs.

On social media, it makes sense to personalize ads to appeal to certain groups of users. However, it is just as important to build engagement through company responses. If an individual asks a question or tags a friend, is someone on your team making an effort to continue the conversation? Sometimes, a simple “like” is enough to generate interest, but a written response that includes the user’s name is a great way to create a personalized relationship with future or existing customers. Part of this strategy can also be called “name dropping,” which means including the person’s name whenever applicable, whether that is in the headline of an email, in the response of a chat conversation or in a comment of a social media post.

Most large companies are already varying their message in order to appeal to specific groups. However, what can happen is that individuals receive the same targeted message over and over again. Individuals also deserve to have varied messages, and they often respond favorably to this approach. If the same CTA or email topic isn’t working, don’t be afraid to go against type and try something new or just switch things up periodically.

Ultimately, none of these approaches to personalizing content will work unless the content itself is appealing. Custom content is a great strategy but only if the content is appealing, informative and effective. In the wave of content that individuals encounter each day, it takes personalized, targeted and high-quality content to stand out from the rest. Finding a talented writer who understands your organization’s needs can make a big difference for your content strategy.

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