Finding the Balance: Effective B2B Personalisation

Finding the Balance: Effective B2B Personalisation

April 2021 | Digital Marketing

When it comes to personalisation, the only real limit is scale and efficiency rather than ambition. All that's needed are a few simple building blocks.

Personalisation has been a top marketing trend for several years. The idea is simple. You'll get higher responses rates and more leads if you tailor your content and campaigns to each individual rather than sending a generic message to everyone. Making good personalisation a reality is more complicated because it requires you to understand the business needs and motivations of every contact in your marketing database. Successful personalisation is about demonstrating how to solve each contact's unique challenges, as well as positioning your products and services to meet these requirements.

Simple personalisation often works the best. It's easy to go too far. There is a balance to be struck between personalisation and privacy. If you only use personalisation to show contact's the data you've collected about them, then you will lose customers faster than you'll gain them. Effective personalisation aims to help customers by guiding them to information that makes their work quicker and easier. Over time this builds trust and demonstrates that your organisation is the right partner to solve your prospect's business challenges.

Focus on Content

Good personalisation doesn't have to be complicated. In a B2B context, all you need to know is a contact's job title, as well as some basic information about the size and industry of their company. You don't even need to know the company's customer status or purchase history, although having that background definitely helps. From that, you can create targeted content based on the contact's buying persona and their previous relationship with your organisation. Mix that with the information you have about each individual to send personalised campaigns that get results. Every marketing automation platform has features that allow you to quickly add personalisation to your emails. Start by creating a reusable dynamic content section for salutations and names in subject lines. Then work out where you have sufficient data to accurately personalise some sections of your content.

In terms of content, the right approach will vary by brand and segment. It’s easy to focus too much on dynamic content and field merges, and overlook far more meaningful differences such as adapting the tone and language of your content to the personas or industries you’re targeting. Some roles and organisations are more formal than others. It’s generally best practice to create a separate campaign stream for senior decision makers, because content aimed at this audience needs a different focus. In many situations, dynamic content is enough to bridge the gap, but in other cases different content is required. There can be inefficiencies created by too much dynamic content in an email, as well as too little.

The Right Database

Personalisation is only effective if you have the right information about your prospects. When managing your marketing database, your top priority should be to properly categorise the job titles of your contacts. Make sure that each record has the correct role and seniority so that audiences can be segmented as required. Implementing job title normalisation workflows in your Marketing Automation and CRM is an essential component of any personalisation strategy. That sounds like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. CRMT Digital have a lot of experience in data normalisation and can help you get started.

Using external data sources to pull in firmographic data about your accounts is also necessary, particularly if you're running an ABM strategy. For smaller databases, asking an intern to manually update account profiles from LinkedIn is generally sufficient to get the data you need. At scale, data purchases from specialist data vendors may be required, but be careful. Data sources can vary wildly in quality. Even the best suppliers, such as D&B, have gaps in their database, particularly when it comes to SMB audiences.

Your contact strategy should identify where you need to tailor content to the audience. Then map out the best ways to identify the relevant audiences in your database and beyond, as well as the most efficient ways of personalising campaigns and content to that audience. Some approaches will be more effective for your audience than others, so use A/B testing to measure the impact of each approach to personalisation on your campaigns. Then use constant iteration and continuous testing to discover what works and what doesn't. When it comes to personalisation, the only real limit is scale and efficiencies rather than ambition. The sky's the limit!

Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant and Solutions Architect at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.