The Importance of Personalization in the B2B Buying Journey
Imagine you’re a marketer about to begin researching a new martech solution for your organization. To get started, you’ll need to assess whether this type of solution is something you could benefit from, and then decide which options on the market fit your current needs. Now imagine that after visiting one vendor’s homepage — in the process of simply gathering information — you’re immediately hit with a message that says, “Fill out this form to speak to one of our salespeople!”
How do you respond? At best, you ignore it. At worst, you leave the site. Why? Because you’re not ready to speak to a salesperson — you’re just looking to quickly understand what this company has to offer. If you can’t easily figure that out, you’ll move on.
However, as you progress through the buyer’s journey, your needs will change. You may want to download an educational eBook or worksheet. You may want to read case studies or customer testimonials to see what others in your industry have done. And when you’re ready, you may sign up for a demo or speak to a salesperson. The timing at which you’re ready for all this content and/or engagement — and the specific type of content and messaging that will appeal to you — is bound to be different for you than anyone else currently researching this type of solution.
It’s crucial to acknowledge, respect, and adjust to these types of variations for prospective customers. To be competitive and elevate your brand above the crowd, today’s marketer needs to have the tools and business intelligence to be able to adapt to each prospect individually.
Every B2B buyer is different, so don’t treat them all the same.
The point is that, like consumers, B2B buyers are all unique. They come from different industries, they have different needs at each stage of their journey, and they have different content preferences. Rather than provide a one-size-fits-all experience that includes generic content and messages across channels — one that risks missing the mark for each individual — you can leverage real-time personalization instead. Real-time personalization helps you understand each of your prospects at the individual and the account level so you can provide them with the most relevant content to help guide them along their journey.
You may think that personalizing your digital channels, either to segments or to each individual, sounds too difficult. Yet statistics show that your buyers want — and even expect — some form of personalization. Infosys found that 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized to them. And that shouldn’t be surprising to most marketers, because a recent survey from Evergage and Researchscape International found that 88% of marketers believe that their prospects or customers expect a personalized experience.
Additionally, of those marketers who are currently using personalization, 88% are seeing a measurable lift — primarily in the areas of higher conversion rates, improved customer experience, and increased visitor engagement. Most are seeing a 1-10% improvement in their KPIs, while 10% are actually seeing improvements of 30% or more. So the majority of marketers understand the importance of personalization and see its benefits.
Yet Evergage found that only 21% of B2B marketers are very or extremely satisfied with their current personalization efforts, compared to 53% of B2C marketers. And, overall, 73% of marketers believe that personalization should be a greater priority in their organizations.
The new, empowered buyer.
It’s no secret that today’s empowered buyers demand a new level of customer focus. They have a heightened expectation for the brands they engage with to personally know and serve them. In fact, Gartner found that, by 2020, smart personalization engines used to recognize customer intent will enable digital businesses to increase their profits by up to 15%.
Traditionally, buyers and customers have been forced through a few pre-defined paths created by marketers. While these paths added a level of personalization to the experience, the method has fallen short for both groups. Similar to how we’ve seen the evolution of mapping technology like Waze™ and Google Maps™, “pre-defined directions” have given way to more fluid recommended paths that take into account individual user behaviors and outside factors — in real time.
In order to consistently deliver more precise, more personalized engagement paths for brands and their buyers, we’ve introduced Adaptive Journeys to allow marketers to interact with their customers more effectively. By personalizing the buyer’s journey, marketers are able to deliver highly specific and tailored tracks.
“Every customer is unique, as is their path to purchase, and in today’s connected world it is more important than ever that brands adapt to how their customers want to be engaged,” said Andy MacMillan, CEO of Act-On Software. “Marketers at mid-sized organizations might think that this is unattainable, but we believe that companies of all sizes should be able to take advantage of the power of predictive technologies to accomplish this — and we’re simplifying how marketers can do this and making it possible with Adaptive Journeys.”
What does Adaptive Journeys mean in terms of the Act-On platform?
Adaptive Journeys is our vision for the future of marketing automation. We believe that your marketing automation platform should be able to recognize behaviors, preferences, and interests, and use that data to automatically adapt the message, the timing, and the delivery channel for more customized engagements. We’ve started on this journey within our product and have big plans to make this vision a reality.
What does that mean for you?
You’ll be able to deliver the best message.
- Dynamically create lists of engaged contacts by any combination of factors, whether that data is brought in from the CRM, captured via web form, or behavior insights that Act-On tracks; these segments can automatically adapt as new information is provided. In the future, more data from additional sources can be leveraged to further personalize engagement efforts.
- Ask additional, conditional follow-up questions; dynamically present, or hide, questions based on an individual’s responses.
At the perfect time.
- Predict the best time to send a message to an intended recipient based on past behaviors and actions — the system will automatically send it during prescribed ‘optimal engagement window’ for increased open and click-throughs.
- Go beyond conditional scoring rules, thresholds, and time windows — giving you the choice to automate scoring across different segments, industries, and buyers.
Through the ideal channel.
- Take advantage of machine learning to select the best channel (email, web, mobile, or social) across which to send a given message, based on the individual’s previous interactions with the brand.
- Implement a more multi-channel marketing approach and be able to better adapt to your customers’ preferred channels across any online or offline channel — be it paid or owned media.
So what’s next?
The good news is that if you’re not currently personalizing your digital channels to your individual B2B buyers, it’s not too late to get started. Work with a real-time personalization platform like Evergage that can easily integrate with your existing martech stack. Centralizing behavioral and attribute data in such a solution will enable you to take action on your valuable data with personalized, relevant “in the moment” experiences. And use it alongside a powerful marketing automation platform like Act-On to deliver the best message to each customer or prospect, at the perfect time, through the ideal channel.
Learn more about these industry-leading solutions at www.evergage.com and act-on.com.