Why you should be using personalization as a PR professional

Public Relations
Why you should be using personalization as a PR professional

They say someone's name, to them, is the sweetest word in the English language. Unsurprisingly then, companies have caught on and are using personalization to tailor their communication for every lead and customer. Here's how they do it in PR.

If you use Netflix, Facebook, or a service like Airbnb, you’ve been exposed to personalization. Personalization as a marketing tactic goes way back. Remember the first time you got an email with your first name in the greeting? Nothing new about that.

What’s new in today’s context is that companies are using personalization to tailor their communication for every lead and customer and the best part is, you don’t need to be a large tech company to do this anymore. In a time when authenticity and relevance reign supreme, this should come as welcome news for most companies.

Let’s look into what personalization can do for you as a PR professional and how you can achieve personalization at scale. 

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Providing a relevant message for everyone 

Until recently, personalization was mainly used for preferences, product suggestions, and dynamic pricing. New software providers have emerged that make all of these things more affordable and also allow you to implement contextualization at scale. With contextualization, it’s not about what you say, but how you package that message. Think of the choice of words, images, examples, and social proof, and tweaking them to appeal to the informational background of each unique visitor. This can go as far as showing different versions of the page to people based on their job title, their mood, or even the weather. Vendors that specialize in this include Evergage, Nosto, and my own startup, Unless. How does it work in practice? Let’s review 4 use cases for PR professionals. 

Personalization and earned media: deepening trust 

Bloggers and influencers have changed the PR landscape. Are you already collaborating with these influencers to promote your brand or company? Piggyback on the trust they’ve built with their followers by mirroring their message and repeating their endorsement on your site. You can use referral parameters to personalize your landing pages or follow-up pages with the influencer’s name, picture, and testimonial. If you collaborate with many small partners and find it cumbersome to create page variations for each, you can use dynamic content insertion to customize bits of text on your landing page for referral tracking. 

This type of influencer-based personalization is great to get started, but there’s more in store. Personalization can be even more powerful when you have additional information on the people visiting your site. 

Personalization and owned media: gathering data to understand your audience 

Do you feel like you don’t know enough about your visitors to personalize your website? You’re not alone. About 55% of marketing professionals think that they don’t have enough data to do personalization effectively. There are two ways to solve this problem. Wait until you have enough signals of intent, or simply ask your visitors who they are and what they need. Here’s where self-segmentation comes in handy. 

Self-segmentation, like its name implies, is asking your visitors which audience segment fits them best. You can do this by running a short or single-question survey on your site. Once you’ve collected their data, you can use personalization software to dynamically adjust your website to better fit their needs. Companies like Third Love and Stitch Fix use this approach to help customers discover the right products. Similarly, app companies like ClassTag leverage self-segmentation to identify visitor types and personalize their sign-up pages, reaching conversion increases of up to 150%. As a communications or PR professional, you can use the same tactic to learn more about your audience and drive better content discovery. 

 

Personalization and events: driving social proof

Are events an important part of your strategy? Everyone knows that preparing a great event is only half the battle. Getting people to sign up and attend is the other half. If you have an all-star speaker lineup, you can use personalization to maximize their impact and drive social proof. Much like the influencer example above, you can generate speaker-specific links (for example myevent.com?speaker=john) with customized images and messaging and give the personalized link to the speaker who will then share it with his/her network. If speakers are promoting your event on their site, you can use referral tracking to personalize your event’s landing page. Show them as social proof on your event page, feature the speaker near the header and at the top of your event program - you know the drill. 
Let’s look at another use case that’s very close to home. 

Personalization and press relations: pages that speak to each journalist 

Typically, when emailing press releases, you pitch your news from different angles. Tech publications may be more interested in your product’s features or your investment partners, for instance. More general publications may want to hear from your management team and customers instead. Your press release and the information in your press kit should be aligned with your email pitch. You can go as far as personalizing your product landing page and press kit for each journalist. Using data stored in your CRM and coupling that with dynamic content, you can do this type of 1:1 personalization at scale. 

Wrapping up: personalization can help you step up your game 

1:1 marketing is not new, but we’re seeing some really exciting applications across industries. There’s no reason PR professionals shouldn’t start enjoying its benefits. Ask yourself: could your communications be more effective and personal? Are you keen on following a more data-driven approach to PR? Then it’s a great time to start exploring what this technology can do for you.

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Sander is co-founder and CEO at Unless. Previously, he was CTO at myTomorrows (Balderton Capital, EQT Ventures, Octopus Ventures), co-founder and CTO of Peecho (Peak Capital), CTO at Sumis (acquired) and Chief Architect at Albumprinter (acquired). He lives on an old ship with his giant pet snail, teaches a weekly kung fu class and is a competitive obstacle racer.. Connect on LinkedIn or send an email

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