So you want to personalize your B2B website?
Posted by Jim Hopkins on July 10, 2014
That’s partially because in the past, personalization was complicated. Now, the evolution of powerful website optimization and content targeting technologies has put creating personalized content campaigns within reach for more marketers. These technologies are easy to implement and flexible, allowing for a range of use cases—especially B2B.
But with a growing number of vendors offering content personalization technology, choosing the right solution can be an overwhelming decision.
Fortunately, there are several important, straightforward factors to consider when choosing a personalization solution, and we explain them all in the rest of this blog post.
Who Gets Personalized?
Many tools have the ability to serve up unique content to visitors. But the key to a successful personalization strategy is the power to identify and target the specific visitors you can have a measurable impact on, and mean the most to your business. We’ve talked in detail about it before, but if you’re a B2B marketer, you sell to other companies. So you should focus your content and personalization on the companies and groups of accounts that matter most to your business. This could be a list of top prospect accounts fed to you by your sales team, a specific industry/vertical, current customers up for renewal or upsell/cross-sell opportunities, or any other account-based segment.
It’s crucial that your personalization solution provide robust and accurate company-level targeting to be able to pull off this kind of account-based personalization. Many vendors use readily available company information from public IP registry databases as the foundation for their visitor identification and content targeting. Others claim to add information from social networks and the greater web. None of these publicly available sources can offer the coverage and accuracy you need to take advantage of all the opportunities with valuable companies on your website. Information can be inconsistent, out-of-date, and unreliable from these sources, and end up wasting time and resources.
Some solutions give you the ability to personalize to visitors who have previously made themselves known to you by filling out a form or registering. But industry averages for conversions hover around 2.5% of site visitors, leaving at least 97% who will never get personalized content. Plus, as we know from Forrester, most buyers won’t raise their hand until two-thirds to 90% of the way through their process. So by the time you’ve gotten information to use for personalization, they’ve likely made their decision.
Other vendors would encourage you use digital behavior as a targeting criteria, claiming to allow you to personalize to 100% of your website visitors. But if you’re a B2B company why would you want to personalize to your aunt Sally…or a lost searcher who typed in a vaguely-related keyword…or even just a visitor who fits your target persona profile, but works for a company you would never sell to? On average, only 15-20% of B2B website traffic is from companies at all. So if you’re personalizing to 100%, you’re wasting 80% (or more) of your effort.
User Experience Matters
You’ve heard that in advertising the medium is the message… well, on your website, experience is the message. How your website appears and the way content is presented to the visitor helps build the case that you’re a vendor worthy of investment. You want a personalization solution that helps present content within the confines of your website design and structure, not in pop-up dialog boxes or in slide-out widgets. You want the experience and messages to be consistent across your site, on multiple parts of the page, so it shows that you’re taking extra care vs. just “promoting” your whitepaper download. Most prospects worth selling to can tell the difference between native personalization and pop-up promos.
Dude, Where’s My Content?
The ideal personalization plugs into your existing content management or testing/optimization tools. This not only helps streamline technology resources, but allows you to keep a single source of truth for all your content. Other personalization solutions require you to rebuild promotional units within their content editor, where it’s stored in their databases. This method might make campaign setup quick and dirty, but it often means noticeable lag times between page load and content delivery. It also can cause internal strife between marketing and web teams, when design styles conflict, bugs arise, or users complain.
Lastly, one of the key considerations in deploying a new technology is technical resource involvement. While an ideal solution would be low impact on your IT or web teams, review the previous points and think about how a more siloed and separate solution could impact user experience and other teams’ priorities. Also, be wary of solutions that promise “zero IT involvement.” For a winning B2B personalization solution that can grow with your business, you’ll likely want some assistance from your more technical teammates… at least to get the right mesh with user experience and website architecture. The best vendors will help you bridge the gap between your marketing and technical teams, and make it easy and seamless for you to implement your personalization strategy.
One more suggestion: Make sure you talk to Demandbase and see how we can help you use personalization to exceed your goals.