Persona-Based Marketing vs. the 80/20 Rule

August 19, 2015 Asaf Rothem

The 80/20 rule, otherwise known as the Pareto principle, states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. For marketers, this often means that 80% of your leads come from 20% of your content.

Persona-Based Marketing vs. the 80/20 Rule

That means 80% of the content your marketing team is creating is doing almost nothing to attract or convert leads. Not a very encouraging statistic when marketers are spending more than 25% of their budget on content marketing. With that kind of investment, why aren’t marketers working to create more engaging and actionable content?

The problem isn’t that the content isn’t engaging, it’s that it isn’t the right content, for the right people, at the right time. In order for your content to be truly effective, it needs to be personalized to your buyer personas and the stages of your buyer journey.

Does the 80/20 rule still apply to companies that use personalization and persona-based marketing? If done right, shouldn’t these practices change that ratio considerably, so that 80% of your content isn’t a “waste”? Let’s crunch the numbers:

Content Personalization

According to an IDG Connect survey, respondents found less than half of digital vendor content useful. However, this doesn’t mean half of your content is completely useless, it means each particular website visitor only finds half of your content useful. This could mean that all of your content has the potential to be engaging to different segments of your audience.

Once you have a clear idea of what the different buyer personas you market to are, you can tailor your content specifically to meet their needs. This doesn’t simply pertain to the information provided in your content. The format of your content – blog, whitepaper, infographic, webinar – should also be tailored to the preferred content of each persona.

Instead of presenting all of your content to your entire online audience and hoping they stumble upon the half (or less) that will be a good fit for them, utilizing personalized recommendations can help your different personas find the content most applicable to them much more consistently.

Customizing to the Buyer’s Journey

So if the average buyer finds 50% of the vendor content they view as useful, why isn’t it called the 80/50 rule?

The other piece of the puzzle is timing and relevance. Even if your content matches your visitor’s interests, it may not match where they are in the decision making process. Tailoring content for each stage of the buyer journey will help you provide them with the information most likely to move them to the next stage of the funnel. Having a good mix of high-level concepts, solution-specific content, sales collateral and other content can help propel your visitors through the conversion process.

Real time visitor profiling can help you identify your individual website visitors and determine what stage of the buyer journey they are on based on their behavior. This allows you to create content recommendations that will move them towards a conversion no matter what stage they were at when they arrive at your site.

In your marketing mix there are always going to be pieces of content that perform better than others. Instead of leaving that small selection of content to generate the majority of leads for your business, use that information to optimize and personalize your content marketing. Content targeting tools automatically track the performance of each piece of content, you can learn what buyer personas you are attracting and where in the decision making process each piece is most effective. Then, they work to get that personalized content in front of your website visitors to generate more leads.

Does the 80/20 rule apply to your content marketing? How do you use persona-based marketing to offset it? Let us know in the comments!

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