It’s Personal: The Science of Highly Targeted Content – Psychology and Technology

It’s Personal: The Science of Highly Targeted Content – Psychology and Technology

Have you noticed when you’re on your various social media platforms that the sponsored messages you’re getting are more and more personal and relevant to you in particular? A few years ago, users were getting content that had little or nothing to do with their tastes or interests – stuff that could have been sent to anyone. But now, it’s laser-focused on individuals or (more accurately), segments of individuals, right down to the type of shoes they like and the way they prefer to spend their free time.

Personalized content is certainly no accident, and more and more, consumers are welcoming it rather than feeling like they’re being invaded by Big Brother. As we grow more comfortable with and accustomed to highly targeted content, we’re not only okay with it, we expect it.

The Psychology of Personalized Content

Instead of feeling intruded upon by digital content that has little or no relevance to us, consumers are feeling understood. What could be better than that? According to Psychology Today, feeling understood is even more important than feeling loved, because if people don’t get who we are or what we’re about, all other needs can feel pretty meaningless.

Knowing who we are and what we’re about. That’s the very heart and soul of successful marketing, isn’t it? Marketers who know their audience and what makes them tick are far more likely to create lasting relationships with their prospects than those who are taking stabs in the dark. In fact, a 2017 study showed that 79% of companies that exceeded their revenue goals had a personalized digital media strategy in place.

The Technology of Personalized Content

What is to credit for extremely personalized content and, more importantly, its ability to engage consumers in truly meaningful ways? In a word, technology. In two words, advancing technology. As we know, technology is constantly ushering us into the future, and content marketers are benefiting considerably from the move. Reaching the right people at the right time with the right approach on the right media channel is increasingly possible. As data-rich tools and platforms become more and more sophisticated, content marketers are poised to thrive in their ability to identify audiences, track and characterize their behavior, and purposefully analyze it to create galvanizing content.

The Internet of Things may seem like high-tech on steroids now, but in less than 10 years, it stands to be as routine as getting directions from your smart phone. In a nutshell, the Internet of Things will allow us to have real-time, interactive media experiences on more than just our electronic devices. By way of trillions of sensors providing data streams on everyday items and products, marketers will be able to reach people in more private, personal spaces.

Creepy? Not if content marketers provide messages and experiences that feel welcome instead of invasive. Think of it this way: the technology that affords such intensely keen knowledge of individual consumers will also be the blueprint for precisely how to effectively reach them.

Next week, we’ll examine how to bring psychology and technology together in methodology and ideology. In the meantime, contact our team of experts to find out how to reach your prospects on a new – and very personal – level.



Make Your Audience the Heroes of Your Brand Story

Make Your Audience the Heroes of Your Brand Story

Isn’t it interesting that today’s marketers have to capture their online audiences within seconds, or risk losing them to another site, yet so many people devote endless hours to binge TV?

New research says it’s neuroscience. Because we humans are uniquely capable of empathy, we can also become engrossed in others’ discomfort or elation – even those we don’t personally know – adapting to and internalizing their psychological perspectives. According to cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken, the hormones cortisol and oxytocin rise when we’re in the grips of a good story, and we actually crave the long narratives that today’s best television can provide.

So, what does all this mean for modern marketers? How can we leverage the natural human gravitation to compelling stories to engage them in our brands?

Just as storytellers like Alfred Hitchcock (and creators of today’s binge-worthy productions) are masters at orchestrating exactly what they want audiences to see, think, feel and predict, successful marketers can lead consumers in the same way with engaging content based on intimate knowledge of their prospects. But first, lest you assume “leading” means “manipulating,” it must be done earnestly and with the utmost integrity – and nary a whiff of a sales pitch.

“Consumers are not inherently opposed to brand communication, but they don’t want interruption,” said Column Five Media’s Katy French, referring to brands infusing their stories with a subplot to sell, sell, sell. “Consumers crave engagement marketing…built on trust, mutual respect and common interests. They don’t want to be treated as a faceless dollar bill.”

Modern direct-to-consumer marketers would do well to realize the remarkable parallels between what attracts audiences to today’s binge TV (and yesterday’s epic stories around the hearth) and effective content marketing. Humans’ psychological need for stories makes us predisposed to investing personally in conflict and resolution.

The identification and incorporation of consumer pain points into your brand story, followed by your answer(s) to the problem, feels instinctive to customers and prospects because of their ability to relate and empathize.

Indeed, psychological studies have shown that when we hear a story, our brains change dramatically because we experience them as though they were real, and we become the main character of every story we hear.

Imagine the possibilities of making our audiences the heroes of our brand stories! While they are virtually endless, crafting great stories takes time, effort and skill. Too many companies and organizations hack out content just to have it, while completely missing the boat on how to make it work.

The Foundation
Considering again that pain points and solutions form the framework of any good story, quality content marketing builds upon that foundation with a character(s) facing a problem your brand can solve, a way for that character to access and employ your solution, and lives made better for it.

The Voice
Tell your story in a distinct voice – yours – across all formats and platforms. Don’t get high and mighty in vaulted language or bogged in marketing gibberish; rather, talk to your audiences like you would your co-workers, your family, your trusted friends. After all, that’s who you want your customers to be.

The Details
Like a beautiful, comfortable home you never want to leave, your brand story needs more than a foundation. It needs details, layers, that demonstrate to your audience that you know them, understand them, want to please the punch out of them. For instance, identify what you have in common with your readers or viewers, outside your service or product, and tie those kindred elements into your story.

The End – It’s Only the Beginning 
Like the finale of a favorite binge series, leave your audience wanting more, providing them with multiple ways to share and respond to your story. Let there be no end to what you can offer, only beginnings with ever more heroes in your own special tale.

Let our team of experts mold your story, help you tell it, and share it with the world.