By Kirsten Newbold-Knipp | March 16, 2017 | 2 Comments
Some interesting conversations ensue during SXSW in Austin. Though I didn’t have time to attend much this year, I did meet several interesting folks. I was talking to a marketer from YEXT about information like location, hours of operation, social ratings and other facts and data about businesses – specifically, how marketers keep them up to date. I was using the word attributes and she reacted visibly.
“Do marketers talk about attributes?”
“No. But they should.”
We then proceeded to nerd out on the topic of attributes. And yes, I did find this conversation very interesting. I hope you will too.
First: What is an Attribute?
For example if we were to describe these shoes, attributes might include the following:
Now that you’ve read these – you are probably thinking about going shoe shopping online and using the search capabilities to go find these stellar booties. And you would have jumped right into the world of ecommerce marketing. It turns out that ecommerce marketers and merchandisers have been thinking about attributes all along because they wanted to create a searchable catalog and enable similar products to be displayed together, even feeding you suggestions of related products.
Well, that mindset is expanding to nearly ALL aspects of marketing. And with that expansion … so too is the concept of attributes and their curation gaining in importance.
Attributes Across All Facets of Marketing
As marketers, we’re being told that we can personalize nearly anything in the customer experience. You could personalize my home page visit, my mobile interaction, my billing statement and even the IVR recording when I call your brand. While vendors are selling the dream – too few marketers are thinking about the reality in terms of the explosion of content types and the infinite permutations of custom content that are needed to power this type of personalization. That’s where attributes come in. The only way to power personalization – even at a base level – is to stop creating singular, monolithic content items like 20 page whitepapers and hard coded infographics in favor of modular content.
That’s not to say the whitepaper or infographic is dead. Not at all. But that my infographic and your infographic might be different. Or that the version I see when I am on my phone and you’ve seen me before is different than a new visitor who’s seeing your brand for the first time on a desktop computer. To serve us different versions of this content you must craft it in modules – or atoms as my colleague Chris Ross calls them – and assign each atom attributes. Like, is it for new or repeat visitors? Which stage of the customer journey does it support? What devices is it optimized for?
You can imagine how each atom of content might have many attributes and that over time, if you build a content catalog comprised of well described atoms, you could build a very robust personalization program. Ecommerce marketers have been at this for a while. Creative teams have practice doing this mostly with their images. And advertisers practicing dynamic creative optimization do as well. But all marketers have to start thinking about how they will atomize content and tag it with attributes so their automation tools have a rich trove of metadata to surface the best fit content at the right time.
Attributes and Martech
Not only do marketers have to adopt this mindset of granularity and get comfortable with the word attributes (seriously, they are totally sexy). But you’ll adopt new tools – or evolve existing ones – to store and surface your content and its attributes. In recent research on the evolution of MRM (subscription required), we talk about how even that market has become more granular. It’s been broken into parts – Work Management, Digital Asset Management and Performance Management. Two of those categories rely on attributes to make magic happen:
So what should you take away?
If you found any of this intriguing, yet nerdy, I’d love to talk about it with you at our marketing conference in May where both Chris and I will have sessions that touch on atomic content and the attributes that help power personalization [Scaling a Modern Content Supply Chain With Talent and Technology and Atomic Content: A Framework to Deliver Dynamic Content Marketing.