A lot of Web sites try, with varying success, to tailor the content they offer based on a reader’s previous browsing or download activity. Sometimes, the results are laughably bad: Husband buys wife a romance novel on Amazon, is forever greeted on log-in with pictures of women with flowing hair in front of castles.)

But sometimes, the follow-up content offer is generally useful. A recent experience with Bitpipe suggests what works, and what doesn’t.

It began with a Google search that led me to a white paper, hosted on Bitpipe (an online aggregator of vendor-sponsored white papers) about a category of storage products I’m researching. The white paper was written by a respected analyst firm, and while it focused on one product (the sponsor) had good overall background on what to look for in similar offerings.

The next day, I got an email from Bitpipe suggesting a second white paper which, like the first, was from a respected analyst firm and contained valuable, complementary information. The email was short and to the point, and not loaded with heavy sales pressure or marketing jargon.

What works, then, in suggesting follow-up content based on reader’s previous behavior?

Be timely: Follow-up within a day or two of the reader’s original search, document download or other action. That way you catch them while the reason for their original search is still fresh.

Be brief: Don’t bother thanking them for their original search, asking them to take a survey, registering for premium content or throwing a million ads at them. Tell them, in two sentences, what additional content you have to offer and let them get to it with a single click. But most importantly:

Be relevant: My first download was about virtual tape libraries (software that makes disk storage look like a tape library, useful for customers who built backup processes using tape.) The follow-up was about virtual tape libraries. My first download was from a tier-one consulting firm. The follow-up was about a white paper from a tier-one consulting firm. Get the idea?

Now, Bitpipe has the luxury of working with a self-selected audience interested in technical content. But then, isn’t that the reader most of us are trying to reach in the IT marketing and PR world? As with so many other things, paying close attention to what the customer (or reader) needs always pays off.

Now, back to my romance novel.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!