blog | April 8, 2015
Dynamic Content: Three Strategic Steps that Get it Right
By Jon Abbott
Every business that has ever tried to increase their website rank knows “Content is King.” And we’ve all heard the old expression “Timing is everything.” However, few companies merge those two truths and actually build a dynamic content strategy.
Dynamic content isn’t anything new, Amazon and Netflix have been doing it for years, but this is a tactic that is typically left off the table when content strategy is being discussed. However, it should be one of the main topics of discussion.
First, let’s talk about what dynamic content is, and why its a powerful strategy. When we say “dynamic content”, we’re talking about the content of a website displaying relevant information based on a multitude of factors, such as browsing history of that website, keywords used to find that website, the device used to browse that website, and even the user’s location when browsing.
The goal when creating dynamic content is to serve meaningful content to the user. We’ve identified three main areas of focus critical to an effective dynamic content strategy.
#1: The Right Audience
The first step in this process is to know your target audience. Amazon and Netflix do this through deep data mining of their users, looking at their searches, browsing patterns, purchase history, etc. to recommend the products or services that are most relevant. But not every company is creating an e-commerce site or service. So, how can a company without Amazon’s budget or e-commerce needs learn about their target audience and create a marketing and lead-generation website that can still take advantage of dynamic content?
If you don’t know your target audience (or even if you think you do), your first step is to learn as much about them as you can. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Conduct a short online survey using SurveyMonkey. Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. Simply ask your customers a little bit about themselves. Ask them simple questions, such as:
- Why do you use our product/service?
- How often do you visit our website?
- What part of our website is most important to you?
- When you look at our website on your phone, what do you want to see?
- How can we make our website better?
- What problem can we help you solve?
- If you want to increase the number of returns, offer an incentive to submit the survey.
Interview a few key customers – Select a few highly valued customers and ask them if they would be willing to take a few minutes to help improve your business. Sitting down and talking to a few important customers, face-to-face, will not only help your business but also show them you value their opinion.
Pick an audience for growth – Choose an audience you want to target for specific growth or business reasons.
Use Google Analytics – Google Analytics offers a ton of information about your customers. Information such as age, gender, audience interests, mobile usage, audience location, etc. can be extremely useful in piecing together a customer persona.
The Dallas Chamber of Commerce targets two main audiences, People Looking to Move Their Business To Dallas and People Who Are Members of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. The two arrows on their website allow users to pick the path that is best suited to them.
#2: The Right Content
Content is more than text. Content includes text, graphics, videos, infographics, audio, basically all of the components of a website that convey information and create an interactive experience.
Getting the right dynamic content to the right target audience requires you to know what information your customers want to see. If you have time and budget, content testing is a great way to make sure you are on the right patch. (In the real world, there are time and budget challenges, so we would recommend doing content testing over time, beginning with the most critical pieces of content before launch, then continue to test and revise content throughout the life of the website.)
To get started with content testing, select a portion that is critical. Secondly, select a member of each target audience. Then, observe and interview each target audience representative in a one-on-one setting with the content as it would be presented on the website. Your goal during this step is to gain a deep understanding as to what content is most important to that target audience and why. Things to keep in mind are:
- Can the user find and access the content they need?
- Does the user understand the message being conveyed by the content?
- Does the content draw the user to some kind of action?
Once you have tested the content, you can begin to make it dynamic based on that target audience’s needs. For example, a construction manager would access his company’s ‘Contact Us’ page and need to see the headquarters contact information at the top of the page. Whereas, an employee at the headquarters would need to easily access the construction managers form the top of the Contact Us page.
While it is easiest to present the right content on your website based on a user profile, that isn’t the only way to present dynamic content. A website can dynamically present content based on a user’s IP Address or even the keywords used to find the website.
SCA Promotions dynamically presents content based on the keywords used to find the website.
#3: The Right Time
Now that we have the right content with the right target audience, we have to work on timing. Why is timing important? Because a person’s sub-persona changes based on timing. And that is where responsive web design can help us need our need. Let’s look at an example:
Stacy, a fictitious online shopper, wants to purchase a new pair of shoes. She spends the evening on her laptop browsing through Shoeworld’s website looking at different pairs of shoes. The next morning, she drives to Shoeworld to try them on. On her way there, she thinks about calling the store to make sure they have the shoes in stock.
Using her mobile to access the store’s website, the content Stacy wants now is very different than the content she wanted on her laptop the night before. On her laptop, Stacy wanted big pictures of shoes so that she could see every stitch, seam, buckle, and shoelace. Now on her phone, Stacy wants very quick and easy access to the store’s phone number and the information of the shoe she wants to buy.
Having the exact same content displayed on a mobile device as it is on a desktop is rarely ideal. Users often access the same websites on a mobile device that they do on a desktop but their needs, information-wise, are usually not the same. Changing content dynamically through responsive web design based on analysis of your target audience allows your company’s website to present the right content to the right audience at the right time.
At the end of the day, the goal of creating an effective dynamic content strategy is to serve meaningful content to your audience, when they want it, as well as how they want it. If it’s done right, it’ll seem seamless and intuitive, which will increase the engagement and return visits from your audience, and drive results for your business.