4 Best Practices for Dynamic Personalization in B2B Advertising

We all know that the days of brand messages sprayed out to the world, hoping to catch some engagement from anybody and everybody, are long gone. In 2019, B2B marketers should expect precision from their ad campaigns and a personalized touch to help grab the attention of their intended audience. One of the best ways to do this and show a prospect that this isn’t some random ad coming out of the ether, is to add in dynamic personalization. Of course, there are inherent challenges to adding personalization to an ad campaign, so to make life a little easier for marketers and their design teams I’ve put together these 4 best practices that will make your next campaign standout and help you avoid the pitfalls common to personalized ads.

1. Choose personalization that makes sense for your campaign
“Personalization” can mean a lot of things for a dynamic ad and choosing the right type for your strategy is key. For example, you can insert a company’s name dynamically into an ad when a target account gets served the ad, which is great for making a strong, initial impact to a potential new account. Or you can insert the industry or vertical, a zip code or even a custom attribute.

However, what I often suggest to clients is to have a multi-touch campaign approach where you can use both “industry” AND “company name” personalization. For example, you could start with a 1st touch campaign using “Industry” personalization and a general message as these targeted accounts become familiar with your brand. Then you could follow this up with a 2nd touch campaign using “company name” and have a more explicit message or offer on your products, fine-tuned to this prospect. This way, you let them know you’re talking to them directly, that you know their purchasing intent, and you’ve got the goods they need.

2. Use personalization on the final frame—at least
Some web pages can be very busy, almost guaranteeing that your ad initiates without the intended audience looking at it. This means that the opening frame in an animated banner is missed and the viewer only sees perhaps some movement and then the final frame. For this reason, I urge clients to put the personalization at least in the final message for the greatest impact. Of course, what’s even more impactful is to personalize all frames when possible. This way there is no mistaking these ads are intended to be relevant to them.

3. Make the personalization stand out
Personalization can be one of the best ways to give your ad campaign something special and potentially double your audience engagement. So, don’t hide it. Simply adding a contrasting color to the personalization to highlight it can draw attention to what might otherwise be just another ad in a visual cacophony on a web page.

4. Think about word-wrap
Too often I see ads in the design stage with “placeholder copy” for the personalization without any thought about the dynamic aspect of the ad. Being dynamic means that the personalization will change depending on who is looking at the ad. So if the personalized headline in the design says “We Can Help {COMPANY} With the Products They Need”, your design team might lay this out and think it looks great. But what if, once live, the target account is something like {Bob’s Integrated Software Solutions}? This has a long character length that might turn a beautiful layout into a visual nightmare, causing text to unintentionally overlap your logo, the CTA, or maybe over a background image obscuring the most important visual elements. With that said, I always recommend using placeholder text for the personalization that takes into account long words or names. Usually something as simple as “{A Long Company Name Goes Here}” would suffice. Doing this guarantees a smoother production process and can avoid some embarrassing moments for your brand.

Some bonus tips for all campaigns, personalized or not, that can never be stressed enough

1. Remember your ads are a companion to the landing page
Think about the user experience of going from your personalized ad to the landing page. I’ve seen it a million times: clients come up with a great ad campaign, beautiful look and feel, compelling message only to give short shrift to the landing page (or vice versa). Remember, your ad campaign is the teaser to get your targeted audience to your landing page and to take a specific action there. If they are confused about where they were led or are turned off by bad and/or inconsistent design, you’re likely to lose their online engagement for the foreseeable future.

2. CTA dos and don’ts
First off, think hard about your Call to Action. Don’t just go with the old standards like “Learn More” if what you really want your targeted audience to do is watch a video or read an eBook. Of course, there is nothing wrong with “Learn More” if you’re doing an awareness campaign and you just want to bring the uninitiated to your site. But if you have a specific action you want them to take, say so. And there is no reason it can’t be fun, engaging and unexpected. Just don’t let it be unspecific and boring.

And definitely avoid using the word “Download” in your CTA. Security issues are ever-present in people’s minds these days and the last thing you want to do is scare off some potential engagement. The word “download” suggests that by clicking the ad, a file is going to download immediately to your desktop. So anybody with any common sense (or a proactive IT department trying to stop people from clicking everything) just won’t engage. For example, if you want someone to go to a landing page to download an eBook, say “Get the eBook,” not “DOWNLOAD the eBook”.

So that’s all folks

I think the most important takeaway here is that ad personalization shouldn’t just be something you tack on to an already existing campaign because it’s new and cool and you can. It should be thought through like any strategy and executed to the standards your marketing team expects. A little smart work upfront, including following these 4 (ahem—6) best practices can payoff huge for your team and help show your brand’s sophistication and relevance. For more best practices and examples, check out our Advertising Showcase and our Advertising Spec Sheet.