Personalization is fast becoming a de facto customer expectation. In the old days of B2B marketing (i.e. today) people go to your web home page, scan for links, click around and hopefully find their way to the most relevant information. That model is quickly being replaced by the social-mobile model in which information finds you based on your interests. Not only should it be delivered to you, but wherever you go on the Internet content should be designed around you. In effect, digital engagement is transitioning to a Google Adwords model where everything is specifically targeted and customized for every single visitor.
This is a very challenging transition for B2B marketers. It means you have to identify as much as you can about a web visitor and serve content to them dynamically in the amount of time it takes for your web page to load in their browser. The implications for web infrastructure, content development and management, and data structures are significant.
A key to making visitor data more useful to the marketing and sales process is the ability to instantly identify visitors and associate them with specific accounts. Many B2B companies construct their go to market models around industries, segments, and increasingly, named accounts. This is also how they set up their CRM systems and revenue reporting. However, most marketing automation systems work at the contact level and use emails as unique record locators, neither of which are ideal for an account based model. Marketing needs to embed the account perspective into everything they do. Fortunately it is as relevant to the personalization process as it is to the alignment issue.
Key account level questions for personalization:
Is this an existing customer?
Is this person’s company in the same corporate family as an existing customer?
Is this a targeted segment, vertical, or named account?
Who are their direct competitors?
What role are they likely to play in the education, evaluation, and purchase processes?
Understanding someone’s professional profile opens the door to the real power in B2B marketing – being able to connect the relationships of contacts within accounts and the relationships between accounts (who owns who). The result is more targeted engagement, faster lead identification and qualification, higher conversion rates, and a customer experience that is really designed around the customer.
Focus on specific targets to facilitate the process of content development and provisioning. Prioritize by segment, vertical, or named accounts and work through the content development punch list.
Deploy an IP identification capability that can be easily integrated with your customer databases, web, marketing and CRM systems.
Adopt an account level attribution model so contacts can be readily assigned to accounts in the CRM, and marketing influence can be tracked through the sales pipeline.
Push the engagement envelop as far as possible because the more immediate it is the more influential, e.g. integrate chat with key targets and offer them chat sessions with subject matter experts not just sales people.
Connect contacts within accounts carefully. Regional proximity, departmental similarities, and what search terms/links they used to reach your site should be factored in to increase the likelihood of finding familiar people or priorities.
IDC believes that personalization is a critical function for all digital marketing infrastructures. Reaching your audience sooner and grooming them through a completely personalized experience will be key to gaining market share. This is no small task and those that get started early will find market advantages that late comers will be hard pressed to displace.