Do I Really Need to Personalize Content and Offers?

Tim Holdsworth
Posted by Tim Holdsworth on April 8, 2015


While large, consumer-oriented companies like Amazon and Netflix are highly adept at providing you with personalized content and product recommendations, many B2B marketers are in the early stages of finding ways to personalize content. If this is where you’re at today, that’s okay. But, don’t think it’s all right to rest on your laurels for much longer, because there’s some pretty big potential you’ll be missing out on:

  • In-house marketers who personalize Web experiences see, on average, a 19% uplift in sales (HubSpot)
  • Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates than ones that are not personalized (Experian Marketing Services)
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs) targeted to the user have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than CTAs that were the same for all visitors (HubSpot)

Plus, your customers (and potential customers) use Amazon and Netflix…and expect the some of the same type of personalization when working with your B2B company:

  • 82% of prospects say content targeted to their industry is more valuable (Marketing Sherpa)
  • 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are more likely to buy (Demand Metric)
  • 78% of consumers believe organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships (Demand Metric)

Yes, personalizing your content takes time, planning and data analysis. So, given your limited time as a marketer, where and how can you get started using customer insights to personalize content and offers? By turning to 4 of the ‘W’s of journalism. (We covered the fifth ‘W’ – the Why – in the above numbers.)

For Whom Should You Personalize?

Don’t freak out and think you need to create one-to-one personalization like Amazon – it’s probably not what you need in a B2B marketing context. Focus instead on understanding your buyer personas to develop a solid understanding for whom you want to personalize content.

If you haven’t gathered the customer insight needed to develop personas for your company, you’ll need to do this before anything else. You’ll need to understand what motivates your personas, the kinds of things that make them nervous, what gets them excited, how they deal with problems, what industry-related issues they face, etc.

Then, among your different personas, narrow it down to one for which you’ll begin your personalization efforts. From there, look at the stages of the buyer’s journey —awareness, consideration or decision— for the persona(s) you’ve decided to start with and think about want type or form of content you may want to start with.

Eventually you’ll be able to expand your personalization efforts to other personas and, as you build your capabilities and data infrastructure, down to smaller groups of individuals and behavior-triggered content. Doing so, of course, will require that you work with a Content Management System, like HubSpot, built on a database that keeps track of customers’ information.

What Should You Personalize and Where?

Personalization of content means providing specific, targeted pieces to specific groups. As we discussed with personas above, don’t try to eat the whole elephant at once. Instead, start small with a couple, manageable personalization bites.

For most marketers, email campaigns are probably the fastest / easiest content to customize, given their one-off nature – and the ease with which you can insert specific customer data into them, e.g., first name, company name, city, state, etc.

Beyond that, however, a targeted, but somewhat general persona-oriented, campaign for the initial persona group(s) you identified would be a great place to start. Such a campaign could focus on a series of related blogs, e.g., Manufacturing system selection, that addresses key things that need to be considered in the process, that leads into a webinar and a follow-on eBook email offer to the webinar’s attendees.

As you determine where you should personalize, be sure to use the web analytics tool of your choice to gain an understanding of what visitors are doing on your site. Find out what areas of content are doing well (visits and time on page) and so you have an idea of what to build into your initial personalization efforts.

You can then expand and do more personalization as your visitors and leads provide more data and you become more familiar with how to personalize more content to the right people over more interactions. As you determine where you should personalize, don’t forget to set and measure goals (e.g., conversions) so you can know if your personalization work is successful.

If you’re using a CMS like HubSpot, you can also set personalized web page content based on certain, known criteria of your targets. So, say you’re a national accounting firm. Here are a couple ways you could personalize web page content:

  • If a visitor from a certain area of the country visits your site, you show them services and contact info for that region.
  • If a visitor is a current lead (as identified through specific site actions such as an email subscription), you can feature offers and content that encourages them to build upon their relationship.
  • If a visitor has already subscribed to your newsletter, replace the subscribe box with a different content offer.

When Should Personalization Be Used?

Essentially you should personalize content whenever you feel it’s appropriate. However, you have to first understand your audience and the type of content they want.

You also need to avoid the “creepy” factor – there’s a fine balance to strike in terms of how much customer information you can/should use before your content makes people uncomfortable and you’re viewed as a stalker. Keep the personalization customer relevant and use it in a way that will save visitors time and effort.

Personalization is a powerful way you can differentiate your marketing content and build customer engagement. Effectively implementing personalization requires understanding your target customers at a broad level and individually and determining personalization strategies that can deliver results. It takes some time, effort and organization to implement, but it’s well worth it in the end. After all, nothing personalized, nothing gained.

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Topics: Content Marketing, Marketing Automation, Website Design

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