For every brand offering any type of product, there are a hundred others offering the same thing. Just step into the grocery store and look at how many different types of laundry detergent there are: Prices don’t vary much, making it difficult for customers to make a decision. Similarly, publishers and media houses are continuously competing with one another for more readers.
Given the seemingly unlimited choices online, how does one brand outshine the other and convince a one-time visitor to return as a bona fide customer? By understanding their audiences and personalizing the messaging to them.
However, this proves to be difficult for marketers and editorial directors when they know absolutely nothing about the user. But there are steps brands can take to increase the likelihood that an unknown visitor will make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter or register for a mailing list.
Build Unknown User Profiles Based on Past Behavior and Interests
Often, when a visitor enters a website, a brand knows very little about that individual. While putting a face to a stranger may seem like an impossible task, there are a number of ways to gain a better view of these unknown users while respecting their privacy.
The first thing to try? Personalizing experiences based on contextual data. If a user reads an article about mountain biking, for instance, recommend another article on the same topic because you can make an educated guess that the reader is interested in that type of article. You don't need personal data to do this—just data about the content itself.
Next, you’ll want to scale up the data being used while requesting the user's consent. Analyze content-level, contextual data, then ask for consent to gather information about where and when that user is actually consuming the content. Is this content being read on a tablet in the morning? Is the user reading five articles a day, one after another? Do they visit from links on social media?
As long as consent is obtained, you can start building user profiles based on first-party data about that unknown reader and assign a unique identifier for cross-device recognition so you can serve them their content preferences wherever they might find you.
Analyze User Behaviors to Predict Engagement
While users are navigating your website or other digital properties, they’re providing plenty of fresh data in real time to help your team understand their interests. Once users have spent some time on your website, you should have the ability to review their behavior and history to start predicting their intent.
It’s important to serve users with content that reflects patterns in the information that marketers already have about them in order to create a more engaging experience that plants the seed for subscription. A Data Management Platform (DMP) can help to analyze and collect that data in real time to push more personalized content their way.
Knowing users’ intent can help you serve them relevant content, offers and ads. It also provides marketers with the opportunity to test out teaser campaigns to show visitors what they could get if they paid for the service or product brands are selling, helping to drive them further down the conversion funnel.
Personalize the Experience in Real Time
Having this rich data available immediately makes it possible for teams to create a personalized experience for visitors every time they visit a brand’s site, leading to increased user engagement. However, most businesses struggle to analyze data and take action on the insights they provide in parallel. If the data is old, the experience won’t be accurately portrayed. If marketers don’t personalize users’ experiences, the data collected serves no purpose.
Combining the two will give marketers a rich picture of what viewers are interested in, helping to develop relationships that will make them feel more attached to the brand’s product or service. For instance, Winnipeg Free Press, a Canadian newspaper, doubled the number of articles users read in one week using this approach. The publisher learned that relevance and timeliness were key to creating engaging experiences that leave users wanting more.
Even if marketers know absolutely nothing about the user, it is possible to develop a customer journey that is tailored to his or her personal interests. Using first-party data to develop user profiles that give marketers the chance to really customize each and every interaction, whether it is the first- or tenth-time visitors have come to the site. It’s all about getting a 360-degree view of a user to provide maximum customer satisfaction.