Adaptive content marketing: a new rulebook

Adaptive content marketing is one of the latest buzzwords to hit the sector. Effectively, it means adapting your content for the reader. Personalisation is another way of looking at it, though that still smacks of filling in names and addresses on junk mail.

No, in essence it’s about tailoring the content to the individual’s needs, situation and profile. Only if you consider these words carefully will you fully understand the challenge; it is not just about resizing the screen for mobile users with responsive design.

According to a recent survey by O2, 53 per cent of consumers said they would be more likely to purchase if they were offered a more personalised experience. This could affect the way we produce content in a number of ways.

Where are you coming from?

It has been possible since the days of Web2.0 to work out where a user is based. By the same token, it is easy to tailor content around this information. Whether you are a multi-national or a local company, it makes sense to highlight services or products that are located near a particular reader.

Written on desktop, read on mobile

It is well known that people read content on tablets or smartphones differently compared to desktops. For the most part, companies and developers are reliant on responsive design frameworks such as Bootstrap to stack up columns from the desktop design. It makes sense for the client (who can read the content) and the developer (who gets paid).

Yet there is more to it than that. Arguably, there should be different content on the mobile device. People like to read shorter paragraphs and articles, while too many pictures interrupt the flow and divert attention.

Other sites

One of the most sacred rules is you can’t mess with SEO. Blogging and content marketing are rated on traffic… think of all that new business that can discover your content through Google!

But your market could as easily find your content through other means. Sharing from contacts or social, or simply looking at other sites. The latter opens the idea of content duplication. Should you duplicate a post on Medium? It’s a numbers game. If you are in a competitive sector and find yourself on page four of a Google search return for your keyword, then what do you have to lose?

Don’t be creepy

But there are concerns. How much data can you use without annoying prospective customers? Thinking back to direct marketing and the building of data lists, there has long been conflict between the desire for better targeted marketing and personal information being used for profit. If in doubt, keep your distance. Too much targeting can look creepy.

Can WordPress cut it?

WordPress doesn’t just power this site; it runs 20 per cent of the web. As an easy way to build and manage pages it is fine – and, yes, there are stacks of plugins to provide even a technophobe with the ability to customise material.

Yet it is, at heart, a CMS designed for blogs. Can a one-size-fits-all solution, good as it is, be used to run targeted communications based on users’ data profiles? At present, no it can’t.


At the moment, content marketing is seen as an easy fix. Anyone can bang out a blog and the traffic will flow in. SEO lifts and customers come along to read your interesting news. The problem with this approach is that it’s not 2008 any more. It may be that the rulebook needs to be ripped up and sacred cows like SEO sacrificed on a giant pyre. At least that way you know it will be spotted by your target market, even if they only see the smoke.

Adaptive content marketing: how it could rip up the rulebook
is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.