This year, SiteTuners’ annual Conversion Conference was rebranded to Digital Growth Unleashed. This shift reminds us that digital marketing isn’t just about driving conversions — digital marketers are also tasked with generating awareness, driving engagement, developing deeper relationships, and more. This was my second year attending the event, as Evergage was a sponsor again this year.

One clear theme I noticed this year is that relevance is key. Breaking through the noise and attracting the attention of the right people is something that every marketer across industries is struggling with. I’ll expand on this theme with a few of my main takeaways from the event in this blog post.

You need to catch someone’s attention immediately with something relevant

In her opening keynote, “You Have 8 Seconds...Go!” Marti Post from Mindset Digital established that humans make the decision about whether to engage with something within eight seconds. Of course, they’ll spend more time interacting with something after they’ve made the initial decision, but if you can’t pique their interest within those eight seconds, you’ve lost them.

Tim Ash (CEO of SiteTuners) made a related point in his keynote the following day when he said “Thinking hurts — don’t make me think” (leveraging wisdom from Steve Krug’s Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability book). His point is that we’re all inherently lazy. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means that we’re saving our brain power for the important by cutting out the irrelevant.

If a person will make the decision about whether to engage with your site, email, or other content in just a few seconds, how can you help him make the decision to stay? That’s where personalization comes in. In his session called “Raising the Bar on Personalized Experiences with Machine Learning and AI,” Karl Wirth covered how to leverage machine learning to deliver one-to-one experiences to prospects and customers. Personalization allows you to surface the most relevant message, piece of content, product or category, etc. that will be most likely to capture a person’s attention. Personalization helps you show that you have something meaningful to say to each person to keep them on your site longer, click through your emails, and more.

Always think about the full experience, not just the individual tactics

In his keynote, “Stop Thinking Channels — Start Thinking Audiences!” Rob Ousby from Distilled told a great story about tactics vs. strategy. Getting his start as an SEO expert, he achieved a number of great initial successes by focusing on SEO. But one day, after experiencing a massive failure, he learned that SEO isn’t a universal answer to every marketing question. In his words, “a successful marketing strategy does not begin with deciding which tactics you’re going to use.” And I think that advice rings true. You can’t focus on each of your marketing tactics in isolation.

Personalization can help here as well. As Karl said in his session, personalization helps to build relationships at scale. With the right technology, you can bring all the data you have about a person together in one place and use it to affect her experience regardless of the channel in which she interacts with you. Rather than treating her email experience as separate from her site experience, for example, you can treat each as a single point in her overall journey with your company.

Effective segmentation is just as critical as always

Machine learning and AI may allow marketers to personalize experiences to individuals, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of segmentation. Rob Ousby spent a good portion of his keynote talking about how to determine who your main audiences are — because you can’t be everything to everyone. If you don’t know who your audience is, you won’t know how to best position your products or service, you won’t know what types of content to create based on what they prefer to consume, and you won’t know where to find them. Basically, you won’t be a successful marketer.

Once you’ve identified your key audience segments and determined what messages appeal to each group, you have to be able to deliver those messages. Personalization is critical for this too. For example, if your B2B product has a different value proposition for four main industries, you have to be able to recognize when a website visitor falls into that industry and describe that value proposition to that person in real time.  

Final Thoughts

Marketers are struggling to cut through the noise and capture the attention of their prospects and shoppers. Personalization makes that possible by allowing your website, mobile app, email communications and – not to be forgotten – human interactions to be relevant to each person.

We were giving away free copies of our full-length book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning, in the Evergage booth. If you missed out on a copy, don’t worry! You can get your own free digital version on our site. And don’t forget to request a demo today to learn more about how Evergage can help you be relevant to your own audiences at the 1-to-1 level.