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Many scientific studies highlight the link between hearing or seeing our own name and the ways that causes our brain to react as a result.

Dubbed the "cocktail party effect" by psychologists, marketers of all industries have embraced the concept to enjoy success. Coca-Cola's Share a Coke campaign is a perfect example.

But going further is where the real opportunity lies: EasyJet's 20th birthday campaign used 28 points of customer data to create stories about each customer's travel journey with them.

Unfortunately, in B2B marketing, the tactic is often limited to just changing the name on an email, even though deep personalization is considerably more effective.

Marketers already collect various data points, so why not connect them to content marketing efforts?

Deeply personalized content results in 64% less of an audience loss than content that is not personalized, Turtl found, and 43% more engagement. The overall impact of deep personalization is an 84% increase in engagement.

Although previously deep personalization would have been prohibitively expensive, costs are coming down thanks to advances in CRM and content platform technology.

Taking the humble PDF as an example, this article suggests three ways B2B marketers can embrace greater personalization—and why that matters.

1. Clever Covers

Whether for an e-book, whitepaper, or brochure, most covers on B2B materials tend to have a cookie-cutter look and feel. When readers are overwhelmed by choice, grabbing their attention in an instant helps documents stand out and be memorable.

One way to do that is by adding a prospect's name, company, or even an image or video on the cover that changes depending on how the user arrive at the content.

Also, cover images can be customized depending on the sector—e.g., imagery of a retail shop for a retail customer vs. shots of scientists in lab coats for a pharmaceutical brand. Making subtle changes like that is effective because we are naturally drawn to information or ideas we are invested in.

That kind of personalization is also effective because the prospect is likely to notice it only on a subconscious level.

In fact, average interactions increased 32% for content that was personalized vs. nonpersonalized, a research study in 2022 by Turtl found. Personalized content also reduced the bounce rate 49%.

2. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Journeys

Those who grew up in the '80s or early '90s might remember a publishing phenomenon called Choose Your Own Adventure: stories in which the reader was given a chance to shape the story at the end of each chapter by choosing what happened next and going to the designated page.

Within the broad framework of self-determination theory, autonomy is an important consideration, which is why the books proved popular. We also equate choices with control, so having the ability to change an outcome through our choices is immensely powerful.

Take that learning to marketing: Instead of defaulting to a traditional, linear "start at the top and scroll to the bottom" experience, experiment with different page layouts and interactive elements to create a journey through your content that is unique to each visitor. Before users see your content, create a form in which they can pre-select the content that is most relevant to them. That way they read only what really resonates, and engagement will increase as a result.

Another way of creating a unique journey is by creating modules of content that can be hidden or revealed depending on the preferences or behavior of the target audience. Sections within content can also be signposted so the reader can choose what they want to consume first.

3. Visuals That Go Beyond Aesthetics

Marketers understand that when information is presented in a visual format, our minds pay more attention and process and retain the written information better. So it's highly likely that every report you create will include some kind of chart or illustration.

But by using static images you could be missing out on an opportunity to personalize. Instead, nudge readers to explore more by making images clickable so they can be expanded. That can help readers engage on a deeper level. Moreover, clicking on a digital document provides the ability for the behavior to be tracked.

Why does that matter? Seeing what is and isn't clicked can provide detail about what content is resonating. It also provides an opportunity to retarget those readers with follow-up messaging that is relevant to them.

Interactive documents have the added benefit of the ability to add polls. Polls are often used in webinar presentations and across social media, and it's easy to see why. In fact, LinkedIn suggests posts with a poll reach 3-5 times more people than those without one.

By using a poll in your marketing content, you're moving the reader from passive to active and capturing data that could be used to personalize in the future.

* * *

The variables cited in this article are but a handful that marketers could be implementing to increase conversion; the reality is there are hundreds of options.

Basic personalization elements that once had an impact are now table stakes and therefore losing their impact. Personalization shouldn't just be consigned to changing the greeting on an email. It's now possible to add personalization into brochures, sales decks, and research reports.

Speaking directly to prospects in every sales interaction is proven to reap results, so why not exploit every opportunity to make content relevant?

More Resources on Content Personalization

Three Ways to Reach Customers With Personalized Content: Data, Emotion, and Metrics

Five Tips for a More Personalized B2B Content Strategy

How to Deliver Personalized Content at Scale No Matter Your Marketing Strategy

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image of Nick Mason

Nick Mason is the CEO and founder of Turtl, a content platform for creating high-performing, designer-quality digital documents that drive pipeline and revenue.

LinkedIn: Nick Mason