5 Considerations for Personalization in B2B

During an increasingly competitive time in the digital marketing landscape, it can be easy to get lost in the ever-changing trends and customer needs in the B2B space. However, at least one trend is overwhelmingly clear, and has been for some time: B2B customers expect tailored content. In fact, not only do they expect it, but some require it to move forward in the buying process. In other words, generating personalized content for future buyers is no longer a differentiating factor, but a minimum expectation to meet. Applying personalization strategies to B2B marketing efforts is crucial to prove relevance to your customer, reduce conversation friction, encourage engagement, and create a sense of urgency for the buyer.

A Salesforce report highlights that 72% of B2B customers expect personalized experiences, but only 27% of them believed that companies overall meet their standards of the experience. So what does this information tell us?

  • Your targeted decision maker wants to be treated like an individual, not a number in the system.  
  • Even if a prospect isn’t a customer yet, you, as a B2B service provider, are still expected to put in maximum effort and research their needs to meet their expectations. Look at it this way: if you can’t show that you’re able to anticipate the demands of your potential clients now, why would they trust you to be able to provide a solution for them in the future? 
  • Due to these high expectations, B2B companies in general aren’t doing a good enough job of personalizing content for their prospective customers.

So how then can you take advantage of personalization to meet expectations in the B2B market?

Don’t lose sight of the scope of your market.

Has your company been intentional about who you’ve chosen to reach and why? In a world of constantly changing consumer wants, needs, and preferences, how do you make sure you address the exact people who might want to become your customers? While it’s true that some marketing efforts can be too specific and exclude potential buyers, you should still consider whether or not your current segmentation is too broad, and if necessary, further segment these divisions by behavioral or attitudinal aspects.

Build buyer personas to pinpoint the variety of potential prospects and help curate content to meet various personas’ specifications.

Knowing the context in which a buyer might come to your site is important. Research and identify overarching trends in your potential customers’ industries, asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are consumers’ expectations of the industry? 
  • Are there areas for growth, or perhaps growing threats? 
  • Are they coming to your site out of an immediate need for a solution? 
  • What is their role in their organization? Are they a decision maker?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How do they prefer to consume content?

Building buyer personas helps businesses deliver the right message to the right person as well as in the right medium. Knowing the appropriate channel in which to reach your prospects is essential in naturally engaging them via their preferred method of information consumption rather than pursuing a more aggressive, intrusive strategy. Being aware of your buyers’ roles and pain points helps you determine what message may be most effective in reaching them, and enables you to speak to their problems and identify a solution. While your company’s product/service may reach a very specific market, and there may appear to be a significant amount of overlap in the personas, the primary differences should lie in the persona’s role in an organization and how they make/influence decisions for their organization.

For more insight on what your buyer personas should look like and how they benefit your marketing strategy, see this article: Dear Marketers, Buyer Personas Still Need A Makeover.

Think strategically rather than tactically, avoiding campaign-based marketing.

In order to reach the point of tactical demand from a client, build trust and nurture your leads – pull them in and establish a long-term, sustainable relationship. Campaign-based marketing struggles to engage consumers across digital channels and often attempts to reach too wide or too specific of an audience. That being said, while the campaign could reach the right buyer, it may not reach them at the right time. This “catch-all” content should be avoided, as it may not even reach the right buyer at all, much less at the right time. Additionally, campaigns can be expensive, and while attempting to appeal to a broad audience may seem to be a more cost-effective route to take, in reality it makes it easier for the campaign to get lost in the competition.

Develop your messaging to address your buyer at the right point in time. 

While creating a sufficient amount of content offers for each persona in each stage of the buyer’s journey may seem like a daunting task, it’s incredibly effective in ensuring that your buyer will be fed relevant pieces of content to grab/maintain their interest in a solution and move them along in the process.

Measure and analyze data.

As your prospective buyers move down the funnel of the buyer’s journey, gathering more information about them is key. However, applying this information to make decisions is even more essential. Many businesses have collected ample amounts of data on consumers, but simply do not use it. While this could be due to a lack of resources, technology, or analytic ability, the collection of data is meaningless if a company has no intentions to derive valuable insights from the database. Additionally, research shows that many data management executives don’t even know where all their customer data is stored and therefore cannot extract meaningful insights to build an effective, consistent strategy. 

If you’re not sure what data is important to you, read Demand Marketing KPIs and Metrics You Need to Monitor.

If successfully implemented, the combination of each of these strategies will result in an overall improved customer experience by providing nurturing content that meets the right customer at the right time via the right medium. This is the building block that will help you make the shift from tactical demand generation to strategic demand marketing.

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