Like most inbound marketers, I spent a portion of my summer completing my HubSpot Certification.Unlike most inbound marketers, this was my first time getting certified, so the information was new and often overwhelming. HubSpot touts a lot of their tools and resources during this training, but there was one in particular tool that stuck with me—smart content.Mentioned in a small portion of the content section of the HubSpot Certification, smart content is briefly introduced as a tool for marketers to be expounded on in the Content Certification.
Only there isn’t a Content Certification at the moment. Knowing well that HubSpot is revamping some of their training, and eager to implement this smart content for our clients, I embarked on an epic quest for any information on smart content and personalization tokens I could find (okay, so I googled it.). What did I find. Hardly anything. In its own marketing library, HubSpot has an e-book on personalization, but the information provided is more of a generic “how to” than guidance on ways to optimize the tool for maximum conversion or examples to demonstrate it’s power to clients.
So instead I went on a self-imposed journey through the uncharted land of smart content, learning by trial and error and sacrificing my personal sanity in an effort to bring back the most valuable bits of information for my fellow HubSpoters!Okay, maybe it wasn’t so dramatic, but I did have to redo things a lot.But such is the plight of a UX/CX junkie.This is what I learned.
Tokens in Email - Creepy, buy effective!
If you’ve bought anything online in recent years, you’ve received store emails. They offer new fall fashions or 50% off online only for the next two hours only! But what always struck me about these emails was less the offers and more that they could use my name in the subject line or main text.Like all people, from time to time I’ve used a fake name, and thus realized that this information was just being pulled from some sort of database based on what I had entered when signing up, but it didn’t creep me out any less. Yet per Aberdeen Group, personalization improves click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.Why is this? People enjoy things that are directed to them. This should be enough to get any marketer aboard, yet a lot of agencies struggle with personalization. Most personalization is simply a use of a name, but with the opportunity to do so much more, why wouldn’t we? Don’t just add first names in your subject line, talk about the customer’s stated business or interests as well!Not only is it impressive, it makes your emails a lot more relevant—and we all know relevance is important to bringing a positive experience to the customer! And per ChadwickMartinBailey an estimated 56% of people in the United States who have unsubscribed from emails have reported that their choice to unsubscribe was due to lack of relevance!
*Pro-tip: Adding your personalizations now? Not so fast!Chances are your contact data is not 100% complete for all clients in your HubSpot portal, which means you’ll be left with awkward blanks if your email is sent to someone who is missing that particular piece of information.Rather than comb through your contact database, set some default values for your personalization tokens.You can do this in content settings!
Smart Fields in Forms - Less typing, more converting!
It’s happened to every single one of us.You fill out all this information in a form, go to submit, and find that either you left one field blank, or mistyped one bit of information.Suddenly, the whole form is blank and you’re back to square one. If you’re prone to expressing your frustrations like I do, you’ve probably screamed at the computer or kicked the desk in aggravation, and chances are, if your customer has done that you probably are not providing a good customer experience. Thankfully HubSpot doesn’t do this. But what about when completing a form on a site you’ve already given information to? That can be a pain as well. That’s why HubSpot has smart fields. Clicking the little button directly to the left of the settings gear activates the field as smart. This means they’ll automatically fill with known information, giving less information for the customer to fill out, which makes them more likely to submit and complete the form.In addition, if you’re feeling daring, you can set queued questions to fill in for those smart rows if you so choose.This can be useful for getting more information from the customer to aid in conversion. Customer experience and inbound marketing conversion all in one!
Workflows - Not quite smart content, but a smart tool!
So this next one is not quite a smart content tool, but it can help you to direct the offers and emails a customer gets, which in itself is a form of personalization. Workflows can be a bit tricky, but the HubSpot workflow tool is easy to use, especially if you think of it as an old school logic problem out of those activity books you probably used as a kid.These workflows can be quite simple: the customer downloaded “x” offer. That gives us an idea of what service we provide that they’re interested in.So let’s email them our new related offer, or add them to a newsletter related solely to that subject.They can also be more complicated and move a customer down the funnel for their interest area by showing the customer offers throughout the sales funnel. This “personalization” of showing the customer things of relevance, i.e. things they are interested in, is a great tool for conversion, and when done correctly, can keep the customer interested in the content you produce and provide.That’s not just building a great customer experience, its also building evangelists!
Smart CTA's - Keeping offers fresh and new!
It’s kind of hidden in the HubSpot tool, but when clicking on the arrow by“Create A New CTA,” there’s an option to create a “Smart CTA.” Never has your web maintenance been so easy! When you have a series of CTAs you wish to cycle through, or just want to move someone to convert, you can use this spiffy tool. It pops up with options, by which to customize, which looks like this:
(Screenshot from HubSpot)
This is the first step in a series of four steps, and easily the most important. Each option has its merit. Are you offering different things in different countries, or have CTA’s in another language? That’s where country comes in.Have a CTA that fits a mobile screen better? Use device type. Offering something unique to visitors from a specific site—hello referral source.These all have their uses, but my favorites are the bottom two: Contact list membership or lifecycle stage.These should be your goal if you want to move your visitors down the conversion path (and why wouldn’t you? That’s just good inbound marketing!). You can use list memberships to tie all the CTA offers to a specific campaign based on previous downloads, or lifecycle stage to push that lead to MQL status with your new offer. I won’t go through the details here, but HubSpot’s set up is pretty easy once you walk through the tool a few times. It also helps refresh some of the imagery and offers that your visitors will see on your site without you having to go in and update. Even better, when you have a bunch of offers, it keeps things fresh and interesting for your visitors (and future customers) as it can provide something new and targeted to their interests. Talk about a great customer experience!
Progressive Profiling - Build Websites of the Future
This is easily the coolest and most complicated part of smart content.At the moment, the capability of smart content on websites is only available for Rich Text modules in HubSpot’s COS, but one can hope that they will continue to add the capability across all modules. Much like with the smart CTAs, you can choose to set what the visitor will view based on the five criteria HubSpot provides.You can also use personalizations much like email, which means addressing the visitor by name if they’ve completed a form, or referring to their business or interests. This also allows you to target what people see and where.A lead might see a different front page than a customer.Someone in another country might see information targeted to him or her that’s different from where the site is based.Redundant and tired content can be eliminated for returning visitors. And people really dig things laid out and targeted to them. Gone are the days of websites where you are asked about your interests each time you visit and have to pick (these aren’t super common, but my personal investment site is a culprit). Not having to make choices is a great aspect of a customer experience.Customized web content is a great customer experience. User experience seems like only yesterday, but it just isn’t enough anymore! Providing a strong customer experience is the key to digital success.Smart content is a powerful tool in this process, but the truth is, we’re only beginning to learn the power of smart content, but it certainly works.
We’ve only begun to unlock the depths of smart content. Do you have any tips on how you utilize smart content for your clients and customers?