Content personalization tools sharpen focus on customers

Targeting customers with one-to-one content hits new heights

When searching for a gift for your significant other, there's a pretty good chance the ads for that item will chase you all over the internet for a week or three. Content personalization tools aren't perfect; they still can't always distinguish your preferences from your partner's.

But they're improving.

Variations on Amazon's legendary proprietary content personalization theme are now hitting mainstream marketing, as companies like Google, Acquia, Adobe and Evergage improve their personalization engines. These tools combine knowledge management, smart search and marketing software to automate one-to-one customer communications.

For B2B vendors, this automation can save hours upon hours of manual entry, freeing up time for salespeople to do what they do best -- sell. For B2C companies, it opens the floodgates to reach customers in ways that just wouldn't have been possible before due to the costs of manually reaching out to tens of thousands of customers to sell low-margin products.

Content personalization tools have been around for decades, but connected systems -- from web tracking to behavior analysis -- can now determine what a customer wants. New machine learning and AI tools can find relevant data in hitherto unsearchable lakes and then insert the relevant data about a single customer into campaigns addressing what that customer has been searching for. These end-to-end systems are still evolving, yet they get more effective every year.

In this handbook, we look at the history of automated content personalization dating back a quarter century. More importantly, we compare product features of current vendors such as Evergage and Google and explore what other companies like Adobe are doing to create next-generation marketing tools -- and, perhaps, the next Amazon.