Personalization is something that marketers have been talking about for years. However, in many ways, B2B is still catching up with the trend.
2020 was a pivotal moment for many B2B marketers forced to give up old habits. For many, this has meant both delivering more personalized content strategies tailored to the changing needs of their target audiences, as well as helping a transition to purely digital, account-based marketing plans.
Some did the shift better than others.
We knew that adding "COVID-19" to messaging wasn't going to work well or for a long time – just like adding "Hello, (name)" to emails wouldn't. Even the clever direct mail with your favorite sports team was getting old.
Personalization should make you seem like a cool mind reader rather than a creepy stalker.
Here are five tips for a personalized content strategy that will prepare you and your customers for what 2021 brings.
1. Decide which target groups you want to reach
Don't assume you know who to reach out to especially because the sales teams are constantly rethinking target accounts based on market dynamics. Sales and marketing should forcibly agree on who buyers are, including target accounts and roles within buying groups.
Work with sales to list these buyers in order of importance. Then prioritize as you can't create personalized content for everyone at the same time, where you can achieve the most.
Bonus points: Work with Customer Success and Account Managers to understand who needs marketing attention after the sale, starting with cross-sell and upsell efforts.
2. Relearn the digital context and competition within your buyer's experience
Our buyers have changed, and what we thought we knew about them has changed.
Return to the data drawing board to collect first and third party data and gain insights into what your buyers are doing: sales cycle length, engagement volume and type, campaign response, website experience, and content consumption behavior.
Create profiles to view personas and roles, as well as broader views of purchasing groups and accounts.
Furthermore, your internal data only shows how buyers react to your company's offers. If you don't offer what you like, you will find it elsewhere. So, get insights into how other businesses are investing to reach these buyers and accounts, including what the buyers are looking for (intent) and what content resources they are consuming in general. Then create personalized content that they are likely to respond to.
Bonus points: Look at the buyers that your target market competitors are less focused on. This will help you spot gaps where your company can stand out from others.
3. Create configurable (personalized) content modules for each purchase phase
While it's impossible to work out every permutation of a message that most businesses' complex shopping groups and trips would require, it's possible to create a map of general needs, interests, and preferences and then create messages and assets to configure can reach different target groups. Think of this as the 80/20 rule of content: the key is to connect news and assets to buying stages and needs.
Start by mapping the stages of your buying journey and determining which roles or personas are involved in each stage. Starting with our first tip, get back to your priority list and see what actions buyers are taking and what assets they tend to consume.
Use your data from our second tip to define by person what information your content needs to cover and what form it can best take. Create a content calendar and start creating. Don't forget to break down existing content, especially long-form assets, into components that suit your current buyer interests – the perfect opportunity for personalized content.
Bonus points: Think like a product-driven growth company and look for ways to incorporate canvassing into your content strategy to redesign personalization. There is no more trustworthy or effective way of reaching a buyer than showing them how someone like him has achieved results by working with your business.
4. Activate messages and assets based on the triggers of buyer behavior
It is now clear that this is a personalization that is much more than an email or website greeting. These things are a nice touch, but they aren't game changers. What really makes buying decisions faster is providing just the right information at the right time.
Again, the goal is to make your buyers feel like a cool mind reader, not a creepy stalker.
You should therefore set up digital campaigns that trigger a reach (e.g. content syndication, advertisement, LinkedIn advertisements) based on buyer behavior in real time. Search behavior, campaign response, participation in virtual events and sales interactions show what your buyers are thinking and where they are right now. Use these pointers to get your message and content building blocks in front of buyers where and when they are most likely to be alert and find it valuable.
Bonus points: Don't stop with digital campaigns. Provide your sellers with suggestions in the form of account information and notifications, and follow-up resources so you don't miss a chance to help.
5. Test, measure, improve, repeat: A proven process for personalized content
Even the best plans don't work the way you'd like them to. Start deploying and testing your personalization right away. As you create content and create triggers, see what impact it will have. Continue to monitor buyer behavior and update accordingly.
The beauty of digital marketing is how easy it is to learn and adapt in real time – and how everything is measurable. Thanks to digital tactics, marketers can easily track every investment and generate transparent reports on its performance.
- Are you getting the answer you want?
- How do digital channels work together and separately to create engagement in your target accounts?
- What specific paths lead to faster buying cycles?
Use all of this information to both improve your campaigns and prove the value of marketing to your business.
Bonus points: Separate follow-up for older customers and new accounts. Preferences and trips for customers you already know may be different from those who don't.