Chameleon Content: Words That Adapt

08 August, 2013 by Clare Camp | Around the OfficeDigital MarketingOmnichannel

Today, marketers are pursuing the omni-channel dream – focusing on the customer experience as a whole, rather than looking at it channel by channel. At Deloitte Digital we see content as becoming increasingly personalised, where it knows us so well, it can predict what we’ll want next. As a content specialist I’m particularly interested in the nuts of bolts of how this will work, and the impact on copywriting.

Content that shapeshifts

How can brands draw you in deeper? By giving you more of what you want. This is where adaptive content comes in. Words, images and links that arrange themselves in accordance with what’s most relevant at that time.

Let’s imagine you’re killing time at the bus stop.


Seizing the moment

At Deloitte Digital we recognise this as situation where brands can deliver a unique experience.

For example a cinema app could push a notification simply because it knows you’re standing there and likely to be looking at your phone. It’s learnt your previous behaviour and considers it likely that you’ll want to go to the cinema the following day because of:

·         British weather

·         A free diary spot

·         New film releases that match your interests

·         The likelihood that you still have some of the month’s pay left

·         A gap between when you were last in the same location as your friends

The notification offers you 10% off a ticket to James Bond tomorrow afternoon when you book with 3 or more friends – while suggesting a top ten list of friends to invite via the app, based on shared interests and availability.

By looking beyond just historical data, intuitive reasoning can be used to adopt a more natural way of delivering personalised experiences.


What does this mean for copy?

From a copy perspective, personalised headers could be written as ‘Tom’s Top Screenings’, or ‘Tom’s Local Screenings’. A ticket confirmation email could include food and drink promos based on your guest type:

For a night out with the lads:

Buy 4 beers, get 4 hotdogs free

First date:

Buy 2 beers, save 20% on ice-creams

And on arrival your tickets could be printed with a message such as ‘Enjoy the film Tom, Dave and Bill. The next Bond instalment is due in 2023. Tell us what you’d like to see before then at #showme’.


For most brands adaptive content isn’t showing up

All these things are possible but most brands are playing catch up. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber and Netflix are leagues ahead but most brands are falling behind by not making their content relevant enough. It requires putting blinkers on and taking a wholly customer-centric approach.

Deloitte Digital believes brands need to brief agencies not according to channel or campaign, but for the experience as a whole, to ensure the user’s ‘need state’, their context or motive, is satisfied at every point.


Aiding discovery, not stalking relentlessly

While showing someone tailored content on their mobile could be seen as pretty cool, there are some things we’re not quite ready for yet. Direct Marketing News carried out a survey and found the thought of sales assistants pre-empting our visit when we’re in mobile range and greeting us by name is way too much. And I’d be inclined to agree.

The approach to aim for is ‘automagical’ – where the coding’s clever enough to present you with what you want, before you know you even want it.


Transparency as a key element of personalisation

New legislation will mean organisations cannot hide behind pages of terms and conditions – brands will have to work harder to explain to users how their data is being used. The alternative? Stick with static content that users will start to find a real turn-off.

Digital passports that bridge the digital and physical identity are already starting to appear. Apps like Stocard and Passbook on iOS mobile have been an important development for omni-channel and look set to grow.


Code vs. copy

Returning to the role of the copywriter, how are they supposed to keep up with these levels of personalisation? When copy consists heavily of dynamic content – words pulled in according to coding commands – so much is unknown. For example using the cinema follow-up email mentioned earlier:

Dear <FirstName>,

Thanks for booking <FilmTitle> for <Date> <Month> <Year> at <Time>. We can’t wait to see you <InsertFriendsNamesIf MultipleBooking> in <NumberHours> time!

It’d easy to see how the advertising copywriter might become redundant in the near future…


What’s next?

While today omni-channel is the brand dream, ‘hyperpersonalised content’ is heading our way. In my next article ‘After omni-channel: Will robots be the new writers?’ I explore whether clever coding will mean the hand-typed copy deck becomes a thing of the past – or becomes something else entirely.

Want to continue the conversation? Interested in content strategy for your brand? Get in touch with Clare