Make Marketing Personalization a Reality

Written by: Patrick Kilgore on 11/3/16 2:53 PM

blog pic 11.3-01.pngGetting the right message in front of a prospect at the moment it will make the most impact is the goal of every marketer. We now have the technology to get closer to that than we ever have before, but few marketing organizations have gone beyond high-level segmentation.

Marketing personalization has been a buzzword in the industry for a while now. We know the data required for such a result exists. We also know, in theory, that marketing automation combined with that data should put true marketing personalization within reach. The technology and the data aren’t worth much on their own though. You need to develop a solid process to put them to good use.   

Getting the process just right will likely involve some trial and error, but with these five steps, you can start to finally get a marketing personalization process into place that drives results. 

  1. Create well-defined personas and update them regularly.

Creating distinct personas is Marketing 101. We trust this is well worn territory to most B2B professionals. But when was the last time you revisited and revised your personas for greater accuracy? And are you certain that you’ve created all the personas that you need?

B2B marketing involves two levels of targeting:

  • There’s the type of businesses you work with, characterized by factors like industry, number of employees, annual revenue, and geographic location.
  • Then there are all the individuals involved in making a purchasing decision, characterized by particulars like job title, the stages in the process they’re involved in, and specific priorities and needs.

When defining personas, you need to take both levels into account. Your various contacts at one type of business won’t all respond to the same type of content, and people with the same job title at two different types of businesses may respond to entirely different approaches.

Detailed and specific enough personas to account for these distinctions allow you to better target your marketing campaigns and, at least as importantly, collect better data that enables more accurate personalization over time.

  1. Pay attention to the sequence of marketing interactions.

Your data doesn’t just tell you which marketing activities your different personas respond to, it can tell you which specific interactions lead to which outcomes. No one marketing activity or tactic you use exists in a vacuum. With B2B buyers often encountering over ten touch points prior to reaching a purchasing decision, each interaction they have with your company needs to lead to another if they’re going to get to that point.

For your part, that means the data that shows you what works can’t exist in a vacuum either. You need to look at how your leads go from one step to another in your campaigns to determine where they tend to drop off. That knowledge gives you more power to revise the next best message to deliver to each prospect that’s most likely to lead them to the eventual point of sale.

  1. Analyze your data by persona.

Don’t simply look at the sequence of activities your data shows, go a step further and look at that sequence by persona. What works for one type of client or individual won’t work for everyone. For accurate, relevant marketing personalization, you need to see as clearly as possible what works for each type of person you need to reach.

This might require investing in technology that enables a more sophisticated form of data analysis. You probably have lots of tools for collecting data at this point, but you may not have a good resource for turning that data into insights you can put into action, including the ability to filter your data based on categories like persona.  

  1. Implement account-based marketing.

In B2B marketing, you need to be able to differentiate between different contacts at the same organization and make sure each one gets the ads, content, and CTAs most relevant to their concerns and interests.

That’s complicated, but it’s easier to pull off when you approach each account as a collective, rather than treating each individual lead as distinct. Account-based marketing makes this kind of B2B personalization possible. It establishes a mindset of looking at leads in terms of their organization and a process for tracking the intricacies of what’s going on with each account and how they interrelate.  

  1. Implement ongoing marketing planning.

Finally, but at least as important as the other items on this list, you need to establish an ongoing process for analyzing new data as its collected and tweaking your marketing plan as you go. Marketing planning is based on recognizing that marketing must continually evolve based on what works.

Now that we have the data to better recognize the successes and failures of our marketing efforts, there’s no reason not to consistently turn that into improved marketing campaigns that reap better results in real time.

Marketing planning enables you to more effectively personalize your efforts thanks to shorter feedback cycles. Marketing is all about data, and when you shift your plans based on real-time data, you’re not dependent on last year’s results to guess at what will work this year. Gaining deeper knowledge faster gives you the means to create better campaigns based on what each type of lead and customer responds to best.

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Topics: Buyer's journey, Hive9, Marketing Personalization