Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Prediction: A/B testing will disappear as experiences become truly personalized

A/B testing, of course, is a technique that marketers use to optimize their content and websites. It’s a somewhat easy way to figure out what works best:

Are more people clicking on the blue box or the orange box?

Do more people read this article if I post the picture here or there?

A/B testing measures what technique works better for the masses. But here’s the thing when it comes to “the masses” online:

The masses, so to speak, will become less and less important and instant relevant one-on-one connections and experiences are becoming more and more important. Let’s break that down some more…

The masses

Most everything online in 2016 is a numbers game. The more relevant traffic you have, the higher your influence, reach, income, etc. etc. It’s still very much the typical marketing funnel approach. The more relevant people enter in the top, the more relevant people become advocates, customers, etc.

Certainly, there are exceptions out there, but in general that’s still the case. Think about Amazon, for example. They are hailed as a company that gets personalization right. And they do. They know me so well that it’s hard not to buy their recommendations. They are truly personalizing things to me. But, at the end of the day, Amazon is also winning the numbers game. Lots of people know about them and a ton buy things from the site. So, the importance of mass likely isn’t going away.

Moving to the on-site experience: Marketers measure what works better by doing A/B testing. When we do this, 2 percent more people do whatever we want to do. This is helpful and works in the pre-personalization area. In a web world where content is truly personalized A/B testing in the traditional sense won’t matter, because it’s not about moving the masses, but about moving the individual.

One-on-one relationships

When two people have a relationship they know things about the other person – likes, dislikes, flaws, strengths, etc. Many of us – when we choose to – adjust our styles to the other person. the same concept – at some point – can apply online when it comes to digital experiences.

Instead of marketers testing what increases conversions from the masses, they work on knowing our customers and potential customers better. They try to have a meaningful relationship. What’s meaningful of course depends on each relationship and is a bit of a fluid concept. So that means that the content and experience presented to me is very different from you. They know so much about me that the experiences is completely optimized and super relevant to me. And by super relevant I don’t mean that it’s only optimized to get me to buy more. It’s optimized to help me – the customer. Of course, marketers knowing things about me, is also dangerous, because they may just use it to get me to buy, buy, buy. And sometimes it’s about buying something and sometimes it’s not.

Testing in the future

This is one of the more debated points I’ve made at conferences and in workshops. People tell me that this will never be possible and some have called me crazy. “Testing will never to away! Never. Never. Never.” I wonder if people whose jobs were automated in the last few decades said the same thing.  And maybe in a perfect, futuristic world who knows if we’ll ever get there no testing is needed at all. Or maybe, as we are moving more and more toward personalization, testing moves from testing the masses to testing the personal experiences. So, some days I get served the A test and some days the B test.  That could be very relevant, of course, to me, the consumer, if it’s used to make the experience more relevant to me.

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Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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