As the customer preference for sourcing information moves from face to face contact to search engines and digital resources, the time is ripe to re-imagine how you communicate with your manufacturing prospects.
And as we move into an increasingly connected and switched-on digital age, personalisation is becoming one of the more powerful tools at our disposal.
One strategy that is making an impression on the inbound marketing landscape is the shift towards creating smart content.
Smart content (also referred to as dynamic content) is essentially any content that you can alter or tailor to address the specific needs, characteristics, behaviour and criteria of your contacts.
Using intelligence from your marketing software or customer relationship management (CRM) system gives you the power to customise your website pages for every type of visitor.
At the most basic level it could be something as simple as incorporating a first name or company name into an email or a landing page. However, as we'll explore in this blog post, there is the potential to do much more to enhance the user experience (UX.)
The resources that your individual manufacturing customers will be seeking are going to vary immensely. So having the ability to adapt your content to answer your prospect's specific questions has the potential to be a very powerful tool.
Think for a moment about the broad variety of leads and customers that can land on your business website at any time. Each is likely to be at a very different life-cycle stage and, as such, can be offered very different levels, flavours or complexities of information.
Some of course will be first-time visitors to your site, and perhaps still very much at the awareness level, or the very beginning, of the buyer's journey.
Some may be leads who have already requested further information, downloaded one of your eBooks or signed up to your blog.
Others may have moved further through your sales funnel to become a marketing qualified lead (MQL) or sales qualified lead (SQL.)
And others may be your pre-existing customers who are returning to your website for further information, inspiration or to make additional orders.
If you've already added these contacts to specific lists in your CRM, then you're perfectly placed to offer them specific and targeted information associated with the list that they are attached to.
Creating Smart Content
There are multiple criteria that you can choose from to personalise and individualise your customer's experience of your brand - from the creation of smart calls-to-action (CTAs), to smart forms that gather deeper levels of information each time your prospect returns to your site, to the addition of smart text on your emails, website pages and landing pages.
Using a smart CTA means that your visitors could be shown a customised button which has been determined by the information that you already have stored about them.
And the use of a smart form can enable you to adapt part, or all, of your form depending on your website visitor and their specific viewer characteristics.
What's more, by incorporating all the information that you already know about your customer, and embedding that into their online experience, you can enhance their UX while deepening your own knowledge.
If you're selling your products or services into multiple countries then it's possible to adjust your content depending on where your prospects live or work and the language that they speak. It's also possible to segment content based on your customer's referral source.
Another factor that could influence your choice of smart content is the way your customers prefer to view your web pages. Are they more desk bound, in which case they're likely to be viewing content on a PC or laptop? Or do they tend to look at websites on-the-go, using a tablet or smart phone?
Being able to segment your content based on your user's preference and device type is another potentially huge advantage. As an example, the online marketing platform HubSpot uses what it refers to as the 'user agent' of your visitor's browser in order to determine their device type.
The traditional approach to the creation of online content has tended to rely on a one-size-fits-all strategy with the onus on the customer to seek out the information that's most relevant to them.
In contrast, choosing to personalise the content that you offer your customers or leads offers the opportunity to simplify their search, vastly enhance their user experience and to improve user engagement.