What can you do when your audience treats your content like white noise – ignoring it like they do so many other companies today? It’s time to experiment with new approaches.
So how can you break through the clutter and capture their attention? One way is to think about how you make decisions about the content YOU subscribe to and consume. When a topic strikes a chord, you’re more likely to pay attention to it. The writer or brand seems to “get” you at a deep level.
The best content creators make us feel like they’re speaking directly to our deepest needs. Often, they do this by personalizing their messaging.
Why personalize your messaging?
Personalization is one of the few remaining ways to cut through the communications clutter. Even adding a person’s name and other rudimentary information to an email can cause a significant lift in engagement. And according to one statistic, it can also impact your revenue:
79% of businesses that exceed their revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy - Kibo Personalization
Hyper-specific messaging focused on the needs of a narrowly-defined audience enables you to serve its needs like no one else. That level of focus generates loyalty and trust. They love your advice so much that they eagerly sign up for updates from you. Some of them may even become self-appointed evangelists for your brand. In short, because your content is laser-focused on their needs, you become one of their favorites.
Is it worth the effort?
But personalization is a lot of work. Is it worth the effort? A growing body of research shows that it’s very effective at meeting the needs of today’s busy B2B buyers:
- 39% of B2B buyers say they want more self-serve options (HubSpot).
- 72% of B2B customers expect a deep understanding of their needs, reflected through personalized experiences (Salesforce).
The message is clear: By creating unique, engaging experiences, B2B marketers can build stronger relationships with prospects and convert more of them into loyal customers.
How to amp up your personalization
Like any other aspect of marketing, personalization is most effective when it’s backed by a solid strategy. Here are some practical approaches you can use to get started with personalization and targeting:
Personalization and audience segmentation naturally go together. Here’s a three-tiered approach that we use to target our messaging and marketing tactics:
One-to-all: This is your total addressable audience – the people you have on your email list, in your CRM and your followers on social media. At this level, you send the same message to everyone – there is no personalization. You still need to do this with some of your messaging, but it should not be your sole focus.
One-to-few: This level is focused on segmentation – by demographic characteristics, vertical market, profession, job role or other characteristics. One-to-few messaging should be focused on a deep understanding of their needs. Examples include sending promotional emails only to one of your vertical markets.
At this level, think about creating customized experiences on your website. Visitors who fit a certain profile may get access to additional information and resources, plus ungated access to premium assets. You could even create highly targeted paid campaigns to drive the right people to customized landing pages, enabling you to attract more of the right people to your offers.
One-to-one: This is account-based marketing (ABM), where you focus your marketing on a handful of key prospects that you really want to win. Messaging is customized at the level of individual prospects. One popular tactic is to create personalized landing pages for each of your key prospects, customized with content that’s tailored to their needs. It can also display the prospect’s logo, sales rep contact information, a customized offer and a relevant call to action. When they realize that you built a web page just for them, they’ll be impressed!
Before you can begin a personalization campaign, you need to take stock of the content you have on hand. A content audit is an excellent way to do that. Catalog everything you’ve produced – not just blog posts, but ebooks, videos, white papers, special reports and more. Once you’ve completed this process, you can develop a plan to leverage and repurpose it as part of your personalization efforts.
Add depth to your web pages
One of the challenges that many B2B websites face is that prospective customers visit them, get intrigued by product- or application-focused web pages – but then leave their websites because there’s nothing left for them to explore.
Plowing through a chronological list of blog posts – “the abyss of the blogroll” – is too time-consuming and probably won’t yield any useful information. So most prospective buyers don’t bother with it.
The solution to this problem is quite simple: Add relevant blog posts, ebooks and other appropriate resources to your product and vertical market web pages. These links can be added programmatically, so new, relevant content automatically appears there. Or you can manually add links to these key web pages. The key idea is to eliminate “dead ends.” Put these resources in front of your prospects, on the web pages where they’re already congregating. Don’t make them work to find your best resources that are focused on their needs.
Vertical market resource pages
The next step beyond personalizing your existing web pages is to create content hubs – new web pages that are collections of links to the best resources for a specific industry, profession or market niche. These pages are laid out in a way that makes them easy to skim and consume.
A perfect example is New Berlin Plastics’ Medical Device Resource Center, which we created to help our client expand into a new vertical market. This page naturally ranks well in Google, which means it started attracting prospects immediately after it was launched.
ABM landing pages
Another low-tech solution to personalized messaging is to create landing pages that are customized to the needs of specific key accounts. The content is hand-picked to meet one key prospect’s needs. An excellent example is a landing page we created for our client State Line Foundries to attract prototype casting business from John Deere. It helped them successfully win a project from the giant equipment manufacturer.
Advanced personalization tips
Today’s marketing technology enables levels of personalization marketers couldn’t have even dreamed about 10 years ago. Here are several possibilities:
Marketing automation tools can now assemble sequences of messages that can be deployed based on how recipients react to them. For example, if a recipient clicks on a link within an email, they are automatically placed into a message sequence that’s designed to move them toward a sale. If they don’t engage with it, they’re automatically placed into a separate message sequence for additional nurturing.
This approach takes a page from Amazon.com’s playbook. Web pages are built with a series of modules that can contain different types of content. This page is generated on the fly based on the user’s profile and behavior, using an algorithm. A perfect example is Amazon’s “other people also bought” product recommendations. This type of technology isn’t just for e-commerce; it could also be used to present customized feeds of content and special offers to specific types of visitors.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have made it easier than ever to mine information about your customers and web visitors – and to leverage it to deliver customized experiences to your ideal prospects.
The addition of an intelligent chat bot to your website can serve as an automated tour guide pointing website visitors to specific pages or sections on your website that answer their questions. Or guide your visitors to register for your next event or subscribe them to your newsletter without using an annoying form. Learn more about intelligent chatbots in our next blog post.
But even if you can’t afford to invest in sophisticated marketing technology platforms, you can start moving in this direction using the simple tactics we just described.
Contact us today to discuss your content personalization needs.