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What is Smart Content and how do you leverage it using HubSpot?

Personalized content has had its share of fans in the marketing sphere. Email marketers, in particular, rely on first-name-personalization and other techniques to offer a customized experience to their customers. Despite that, most content customization fails to go beyond the buyer-persona level – leaving a lot of room for further personalization.

This gap is seamlessly filled by what is known as Smart Content. 

Through this article, let’s understand what Smart Content is, what benefits it offers, and how to go about implementing your Smart Content using HubSpot. 

What exactly is Smart Content?

Adaptive content, dynamic content, or also known as Smart Content, is any content on your website, advertisements, emailers, or CTAs that modifies itself based on the interests and behaviors of the reader. In that sense, Smart Content aims to create an experience customized precisely for the reader at the moment. 

This is accomplished by weighing the different factors like:

  • Language
  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Device type
  • Stage of the buyer journey
  • Referral source
  • Past searches, and more. 

Recommender engines at Amazon, Netflix, and such, are perfect examples of Smart Content as they cater to the users purchasing and surfing history. Other forms of Smart Content could include personalized forms that change fields depending on the user, ad copies that target the precise buying stage that the user is in, and of course – smart CTAs. 

The general purpose of your content initiatives is to get the user to perform an action, and Smart CTAs have been highly effective in getting that done. By pinpointing a visitor’s location, browser language, whether they’re already a customer or a lead, and much, much more, you can create personalized CTAs to enable higher engagement, and ultimately, more sales-qualified leads. Smart CTAs are known to perform more than 200% better than regular, static CTAs. 

Smart CTAs, like other smart content pieces, are different for different businesses and must be personalized based on the company’s own visitor data. In that sense, it is vital for companies to understand the benefits of using Smart CTAs. 

Let’s take an example to understand this. 

Your website has a section dedicated to the call-to-action. It reads “know more!”, and clicking on it performs a particular action. Good enough. Or is it? 

Using Smart CTA, you can personalize this “know more” based on the visitor’s specific data. Not every visitor on your website would want to “know more”. Maybe they already know more, and you’d be better off with having any other CTA instead of that. Smart CTAs will be different for different users, depending on whether they are repeat visitors or fresh visitors. In the case of a fresh visitor, Smart CTAs can be designed towards collecting more information about them and knowing their stage of the buyer’s journey. If they are repeat visitors, the Smart CTA could be to push them closer towards the end of your sales funnel by getting them to take actions towards becoming a lead. 

As you noticed, in the above example, the only deciding factor is whether the visitors are fresh visitors or repeat visitors. Likewise, you can set different parameters for your Smart Content and modify it based on the intersection of different factors for the best results. 

Let’s look at that in detail. 

Smart Content in Action! 

Here’s an example to make things clearer. 

A user from India visits your website to find out about booking a tour to NYC. Google Analytics immediately informs you of your visitor’s location. You now know the country your visitor is from!

However, there are many languages spoken across India, so your smart content takes into account the visitor’s language preferences to display content in English. 

The combination of their email domain and IP address tells you that the user is most likely interested in a group tour for their organization. You see the domain pointing towards a small marketing company with less than ten staff. Immediately, your smart content adjusts itself to display offers relevant to these parameters first. 

As your visitors start browsing, you get to know about their browser and device settings. With this information, you ensure that there’s no such content on your website that might slow things down for their device/browser. It’s found that the visitor is on a limited bandwidth network – so your content adjusts accordingly and serves shorter videos, all the while disabling autoplay. 

Since you’ve never had this user on your site before, you can’t present recommendations based on their history.

Since this is the first time the user is visiting your website, you can’t really show recommendations based on their past browsing of your website. However, your analytics suite tells you the campaign that pulled this user in – which lets you instantly offer a discount code and ready a follow-up if it isn’t used. Follow-ups could include emailers, retargeting ads, and similar things – all of them customized and Smart, obviously. 

Thanks to the user cookies, you know the other travel blogs and bloggers that your user follows. As a result, your content automatically adjusts to feature the testimonials you got from those blog authors – thereby solidifying your company’s legitimacy.

Further, based on past sales from other Indian customers, you know that they have a likeness for historical sites. This allows you to present packages and content related to historical aspects of their destination country. Now, as the user goes through your blogs, you present the most relevant Smart CTAs at the bottom of each post. 

Because of some reason, the visitor is not able to complete her booking, and neither did they bookmark your website. Lucky for you, you have the information of the packages they viewed, the blogs they read, and the time they spent on different pages. With this information, you’re able to send a polite reminder with a newsletter and a custom selection of relevant articles. 

This 20-minute walkthrough that we looked at will be enough to set up a sale for you in not more than two weeks. 

What do you notice about this scenario?

Seamless user experience 

Throughout the user flow, there were points that the users would generally be expected to feed in form fields. However, the longer your form gets – and the more of them there are – the less likely a user is to spend time on it. Not to mention, bombarding your visitors with forms at every stage – in order to collect information – translates to an inferior user experience. 

With Smart Content, on the other hand, everything you already know about the visitor (like their primary details, basic searches, relevant history, etc.) is embedded in their online experience without them having to face any obstacles while browsing. This approach ensures that the visitor has to focus only on submitting the most relevant data and eliminates most of the non-relevant content from their direct feed, and they don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for content relevant to them. 

More data equals more effective content

There are bound to be times when you will have scant details on your visitor’s needs. However, some primary details like their name, demographics, browser and device details, and past visiting/browsing history will always be there with you. That will be your starting point for the Smart Content – and more information will keep coming as they interact naturally with your content.

That said, the ultimate Smart Content experience might be possible only after the prospect makes their first purchase and establishes their history with you. Smart Content, therefore, is an iterative process with the end goal to get better with time. 

Now, let’s look at how you can go about implementing your Smart Content strategies using HubSpot!

Leveraging Smart Content Using HubSpot

HubSpot utilizes the cookies stored in your visitor’s browser to identify their primary details – including their personal information and their interaction with your website so far. 

If this is their first time and no cookies exist, HubSpot categorizes the visitor as an unknown contact. Then, it checks other essential factors like device type, browser name, preferred language, IP address, and determines the user’s location. If the user fits the criteria for any of the smart rules you’ve created (we’ll talk about this in a bit), they are presented with that Smart Content accordingly. Otherwise, they’re greeted with the default content that you’ve designated. 

On the other hand, if your website’s cookie exists in the user’s browser, HubSpot uses it to identify the visitor and extracts information from their contact record. Then, after investigating their device presets and IP address, HubSpot will match the user with relevant smart rules to pull up correct assets. 

HubSpot currently offers the Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise customers to create smart forms, CTAs, rich text modules on webpages, mailers, and landing pages. 

Here are the steps you can follow to get started with your Smart Content on HubSpot:

1. Determine your audience

The foremost thing to keep in mind when you’re beginning with your Smart Content strategy is the audience you are targeting. 

Define the target audience for your Smart Content, and identify the segmentation rules to modify your content based on the visitor in question. An excellent place to start for this is by understanding the different smart rules that can be applied. 

HubSpot Smart Rule

(Source: HubSpot)

Some rules might be more relevant to you than others, based on whether you’re targeting known contacts or anonymous visitors. In the latter case, the rules will be based on the data HubSpot collects with visitors’ IP addresses – including device type, referral source, country, and language preference. On the other hand, for known contacts, you can use the list membership or lifecycle stage rules. 

So if you’re planning on creating Smart Content for anonymous visitors from India, the country rule should be your first choice. However, if you’re targeting your MQLs from a specific region of India, you’d want to segment your database further by creating a contact list and using the membership rule instead. 

2. Determine the location of your Smart Content

Once you’ve determined the audience for your Smart Content, you should think about the sections of the website (or any other content piece) where you want to add this personalization. If your website is hosted on HubSpot, you’ll be able to add Smart CTAs, forms, and rich text modules across webpages and mailers. 

You should try to add only a few personalized sections/elements per page. Otherwise, the complexity of your website shoots up, and things might get over-complicated for the visitor. Keeping things easy to measure and manage will ensure that you’re effectively analyzing how your smart content is performing, and are able to make informed decisions related to it. 

Suppose you’re promoting a content offer that’s targeted toward your MQLs and general leads. Using HubSpot, you could create a smart CTA like below to use on specific web pages or emailers: 

HubSpot Smart CTA

(Source: HubSpot)

In addition to just personalizing the CTA, you can also personalize other assets in the entire conversion path. For instance, you could develop smart forms and insert them into your landing page, and even offer additional resources to these contacts based on their demographic information. The possibilities of customization are endless with Smart Content, exactly what a winning CRO strategy needs to incorporate.

3. Determine the default content

Every piece of smart content that you strategize needs to have a default version – one that will be displayed to people who don’t fit any of the smart rules that you’ve established. 

So, if you want to create content for visitors from Canada to inform them about your business expansion in their country, you would create Smart Content based on the country rule. HubSpot will allow you to easily switch between your smart and default versions to easily make copy edits wherever needed:

HubSpot Default Rich Text

(Source: HubSpot)

While setting up the default content, you should ensure that you keep it as generic and broad and possible. This will allow you to reach out to everyone, without some visitors having to see content that isn’t even useful to them. 

4. Determine the value of your smart content

Smart Content helps you nurture your contacts across the buyer journey. It offers them information, resources, and CTAs that are most relevant to them. In doing so, Smart Content enables businesses to tailor the experience for each visitor and build solid customer relationships. The first step here is having clear buyer personas and understanding the buyer’s journey. 

Whenever you’re creating Smart Content strategies, always take some time to think about the value it’ll add to your visitors. This value should easily translate into the user experience – whether by optimizing their browsing experience or by offering them exactly the information they want, without them explicitly asking for it. If you can’t clearly figure out the value, you might want to strategize a bit more and focus on the desired effect you’d wish your Smart Content to make. 

5. Determine the metrics to measure performance

Smart Content is inherently an iterative strategy, and the iterations don’t just end on implementing Smart Content. To make sure your content is doing what you intended it to do, you need to periodically analyze different data points and review your strategy. Some metrics that can be useful for your cause include form submissions, page views, click-through rates, and bounce rates. 

If you notice that your smart content is not performing up-to-the-mark, especially compared to your legacy generic content – you might want to take a moment to rethink strategy and implement relevant edits to the copy, or modify your smart rules, to make things work in your favor. 

Check out – HubSpot Marketing Agency

In conclusion

Personalization is the need of the hour. There’s just so much noise on the internet – and the challenge for your user is to sift through that noise and reach you. You want to make things easier for them, and Smart Content is your best bet to achieve that. 

We hope this article helped you in not only understanding the nuances behind Smart Content but also in getting started with your own Smart Content strategy. If you have any queries, please let us know in the comments below – we’re always here to help!

Author avatar
Mayank Gulati