The B2B marketing arena has changed dramatically over the past few years with digitalization taking…
B2B Mass Personalization: 5 Tested Tips to Make B2B Personalization Work
B2C personalization is everywhere. And to be frank, it is supposedly easier to implement than its B2B counterpart.
So what is the best practice or approach to B2B Marketing personalization at scale? That is what we are going to explore in this short article.
Thankfully, this is the age of big data and data veracity.
Thus, it is easy to find out what B2B customers want. A mass marketing message will simply not be effective. The needs of a customer are quite dynamic, changing everyday. It does not matter whether these are B2C or B2B customers. Their needs are constantly evolving. As a marketer, you need to up your ante to create personalized marketing messages for your B2B customers.
The one truth that is not going to change is that B2B customers look forward to the same kind of experience that they get when buying from B2C, if not better! They want to be made offers at the right time, rather than be bombarded with offers. They also want content that is tailor-made for their consumption.
With B2B customers, you must create scalable personalized messages. However, scalable and personalization may sound oxymoronic when used together but using the techniques we shall share here, it is possible to have scalability in personalized B2B marketing messages.
While data will tell you everything that you need to know about your customers, it is impossible for marketers to sit down for a one-on-one with every prospect. Today, collecting data is the easy part. Making full use of that data is the hard part. Thus, B2B marketers must critically analyze all the data that they collect and decide what to discard and what to follow up.
B2C vs. B2B Marketing Personalization: How They Differ?
B2C personalization is different from B2B personalization. But just how different is it? Well, when you are selling to another business, the temptation to see the other end as just another business is high.
However, there are real human beings at the other end of the spectrum. So, B2B marketing personalization is all about customizing your messaging, offers and advertising to meet the emotional needs of different people in the B2B team.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Mass Personalization: An Introduction & 3 Ways to Implement It
B2B Personalization is more than Messaging
While communication is the biggest factor in both B2C and B2B marketing personalization, it may be enough for the former but not for the latter.
In B2C personalization, messaging is usually enough to convert a prospect to a buyer. In B2B marketing personalization, messaging is just one in many steps. You have to tailor certain functionalities to suit different roles.
There are More Decision Makers
Even when it comes to B2C personalization where the decision maker is just one, the marketing process is not so straightforward. You can therefore imagine just how much more complex it is when the purchasing decision is made by more than two people.
In fact the seminal work in Challenger Sales has shown that the average B2B decision involves up to 5 decision makers.
The procurement team of the B2B customer is made of people who have emotions, who can react to marketing messages either negatively or positively. Multiply the time it takes to convince a B2C customer by ten times or more. This also means offering ten times more content (we will discuss this later in the techniques section).
Self-sufficiency Matters Most to B2B Customers (more than the price)
B2C customers worry about the price. A drop can convince them to buy. However, in B2B Marketing personalization, price is based on agreement. Thus, it is not really a determining factor in the buying process.
B2B customers need a good buying experience. For example, they will research deeply about a product. Offer them this research. Help them in the buying process. Direct them to the pages with more information. Excellent B2B marketing personalization might even require real-time interaction with customers, offering them real-time solutions to their research needs.
If you cannot offer real-time interactions and solutions, anticipate their needs in advance and offer solutions on your website. This makes their research time shorter, something that can influence them to convert from prospects to buyers.
Here are two examples where B2B Marketing personalization has been very successful, and they did this by tailoring their digital content to meet the needs of their B2B customers:
Computer Science Corporation – Personalized Content
As an IT service company that sells IT services to other companies, CSC has been able to reverse IP lookup of prospects that land on their homepage to target them with custom content based on how they behaved on the CSC communication channels.
They have used the same tactic to re-target their existing customers, all based on the data that they garner from their analytic systems. Using a platform that they call Demandbase, they have been able to offer customers and prospects the right marketing message at the right time.
The Expert Institute – Personalized Email to Firms
The Expert Institute is a firm that connects clients with legal services in different places in the USA. From their client relations database, they have been able to reach out to prospects with the right emails at the right time, to connect them to legal services they would need from time to time.
According to their vice president of marketing, they moved in to fill a gap that existed between legal services and technology. They started creating personalized content targeting different clients. For example, they would offer free tips to choosing the right legal expert, and other bites in their emails. Their customer base exploded.
These are just two examples of successful B2B Marketing personalization. There are more everywhere around you.
Tested Tips for B2B Mass Personalization
Build a Data-Informed Foundation
By creating a foundation that is data-informed, we mean you must have a 360-degree view of all the prospective customers. Besides, you not only need to have this view in full, but you also need to have it in real-time, almost like having a first-person-view on your prospects.
To build your data foundation, you will have to capture all the actions and activities of prospects and customers from your own channels, paid-for channels and others. This way, you will know all that you need so that you can target the right prospects with your marketing message. Just because you have been garnering a lot of data through your channels, it does not mean that everyone can convert into a buyer.
The reason for insisting on data-driven decisions is so that you can direct your marketing resources to the right people. Honestly, there is no need for wasting important resources on prospects that will never convert to buyers. It would be much better to double the resource allocation on the prospects who have shown every indication of turning into buyers.
The main thing that you will be looking forward to is to capture important data that can tell you more about the prospect. This can be done through the use of automated tools, such as CRM.
Prospects can fill forms with details such as occupation, company size, annual revenue and so on. You can then use data gathering tools to see the behavior of such a customer on your channels. For example, customers who visit a product page all the time can be engaged in a sales dialogue.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Marketer’s Guide: Key Difference Between Qualitative Data & Quantitative Data
Identify and Take Action Informed by Certain Behaviors
Gathering data is ever so easy. Interpreting it for what it is and not what a marketer wishes it to be is another task altogether. It is during the data analysis that marketers can know where to place a certain prospect. To reiterate what we have said above, a prospect who visits a product page frequently is more likely to be a buyer than one who just visits it from time to time.
As you can see, this is deep insight and many marketers do not get it. The reason for that is that they do not have a means of finding out whether their campaign achieved its objective. For example, when you send a marketing email, you may, or may not have a means of finding out whether the email was read. Finding this out can help you make the next decision, whether to send a second email if it was not read, or send a follow-up email if the first one was read.
Offer Enough Content for B2B Marketing Personalization
B2B customers consume a lot of content before they make the decision to buy. Today, even one piece of personalized content is not enough to make a B2C customer buy your product. Sending an email and inviting a prospect to click to view, and hoping they will buy is not effective anymore. You can thus imagine how much more content you will need for B2B Marketing personalization.
B2B customers will not click to view or buy with just one piece of content. In fact, even two or three pieces of content are not going to convince them to buy. They want to do as much research as possible about a certain asset before they buy.
So you go ahead and prepare many pieces of content, say about ten. Good job! But to throw a spanner into the works, it still does not hit the mark that way. You need to make your pieces of content for an asset easy and fast to consume. The reason for this is that B2B customers want to gather all the research that they need in as short a time as possible.
As you capitalize on B2B Marketing personalization, you must always remember that the decision to purchase is not made by an individual. Usually, a procurement committee of the organization must make the decision. This is why they need a lot of content, and in as short a time as possible.
Design the Right Messages, Offers and Experiences
Do not make your message too hard. If you do that, you will not be able to convert prospects. Many marketers lament that most of their traffic does not go beyond the home page. Well, there are many reasons for this. One of them is that you have only personalized the home page and forgotten to do the same for the others.
You need to get real-time data as to what pages your visitors are visiting. That way, you can be able to make real-time recommendations to them. Once you know how your B2B customers consume your content, you can make well-informed decisions for B2B Marketing personalization at scale.
One of the decisions is where to send them next from the home page. For example, different customers will have different needs. Once you find out the needs of these customers on the homepage, you can know where on your website you should direct them next. Depending on their behavior on the homepage, you can also know what kind of content to create and upload on your website.
Knowing what someone needs at a particular time and directing them to where they can find it is as good as personalization for B2B marketers can get. You can learn more about that here.
Help Customers Buy
The reason why you went through the customization journey is because you wanted to help customers to buy. Thus, at the end of their experience, customers prefer someone who helps them purchase rather than one who knows their needs. After gaining the customer insight, help them with information that can make them purchase the products.
To convince a B2B customer takes hard work. However, if you do it right, they will come back for more in future. That is why you must never stop leveraging your content to suit their needs even when they have converted from prospects to buyers.
If you are using social media, bring in the CEO to lead the social selling from top down. In this age, CEOs need to be on social media adding weight to their marketing team’s efforts. Besides, a heavyweight CEO inspires more confidence.
That is it for B2B Marketing personalization at scale. Hopefully, it will help you gain insights on how to take your business to higher levels. As a marketer, always remember to update your techniques to suit the ever-evolving needs of customers.