Why marketers should pay more attention to content affinity

Few people would argue the statement that giving a customer more of what he or she wants is a good idea. If they, for example, spend a lot of time engaging with particular type of content-say, learning about cat behavior, or watching cat videos–then it’s only logical that a good way to engage them further is to suggest another article or video about cats.

But of course consumer behavior is much more complicated than that. People have many interests that they engage with on a regular basis. Our hypothetical cat lover may regularly research recipes for different kinds of ethnic cuisine, read reviews about new British mystery shows, and enjoy virtual window shopping for (if not purchasing) expensive brand name shoes. How can marketers create a meaningful profile of this person–and how can they then take steps to deepen their relationship with them?

Content affinity can help.

What is content affinity?

Since an affinity is a natural liking, preference, or taste for something, in marketing, content affinity is a consumer’s tendency or preference for a specific type of content. In our example, the customer mentioned has displayed affinities for cats, ethnic food, mystery shows, Britain, and certain brands of shoes.

Lytics takes content affinity a step further, creating a quantitative measurement of a user’s content affinity, which can be loosely interpreted as the chance that user will interact with similar pieces or types of content.

Why is content affinity important?

Your message is competing for your customers’ attention, but not just with your competitors’ messages. It’s competing with every other industry’s messages, with YouTube videos of cats, the news, social media, Netflix, and everything else out there. If you’re not giving your customers what they want, they’re not going to pay attention, plain and simple.

But that doesn’t have to be cause to despair. If you’re paying attention to your customers’ behaviors, you already know what they want. If you measure what your customers are interacting with, you can determine which content affinities they have. You can build those affinities into multiple channels to deliver the right message:

  • Personalized content recommendations on the web
  • Customized “You might like…” product recommendations
  • Newsletters with curated content

How does content affinity work?

There are a couple of key components to ensuring that you’re accurately capturing your customers’ affinity for content. One is making sure that you have good content hygiene; that is to say that you accurately capture, classify, and track your content. The second is ensuring that you’re capturing the right data about your customers to capitalize on their affinities.

On the content side, there are a few key strategies to keep your library healthy.

  • Curate your library effectively. Don’t include elements of your digital properties that aren’t customer-facing–for example, user profiles, retired products, or duplicate pieces of content.
  • Classify your library accurately. Make sure content is tagged with the topics it belongs to. These could be product types or uses, topic buckets (like “cats” or “Korean recipes”), or any other classification scheme. The key is that you accurately understand what topics (or products) a user is expressing affinity for when they interact with a given page.
  • Maintain your content library. Your content isn’t static. New pieces are added and old ones are removed regularly. If you remove a page from your website, it won’t do to recommend it to a user only for them to encounter a 404 error.

Fortunately, technology like Lytics’ customer data platform can make content hygiene easier (or even automated for certain tasks).

On the customer data side, the key is capturing their affinity–and that requires first-party behavioral data, not demographic data. Thinking about our hypothetical cat-lover above, whether or not they’re male or female, their age, or where they live doesn’t contribute to our understanding of their affinities. The data points that directly correlate with their interests are behavioral, tracking things like:

  • What types of content does the user visit most often?
  • How many articles, videos, or images display a given content affinity by the user?
  • How long does the user engage with content type 1 vs. content type 2?

Behavioral data shows what individuals actually do–not what a marketer might think they’ll do based on demographic data.

How can Lytics help?

Lytics customer data platform houses our Content Affinity Engine, which takes in information from your library of content and users’ interactions with it to power its content (and product recommendations). At the start of the process, it crawls the pages you designate as having content, extracts metadata to better understand them, and uses Natural Language Processing to identify the topics that are associated with it.

It helps ensure that your content library is healthy, sanitizing and deduplicating URLs so your content library isn’t cluttered with identical pieces of content. It verifies the health of content URLs, so you can take steps to remedy dead or non-functioning URLs. And the good news is we’re continuing to develop and automate these capabilities, making it easier than ever to maintain healthy content libraries.

On the user side, Lytics’ reliance on first-party behavioral data powers an understanding of your customers’ individual content and product preferences. By understanding these preferences, it can determine relevant recommendations of both content and products, and then help you deliver those recommendations through web experiences, ads, and other digital channels.

Learn how Lytics helped Atlassian deliver personalized content recommendations based on its customers’ behavior.