In any sales environment, the days when one could create a singular marketing plan and put it out there for the masses have ended. Customers today demand more from the brands they frequent. They don’t just want to see generic ads for a broad audience. They want to see highly targeted personalized messaging explicitly designed for them.
This is particularly true of B2B customers.
When selling to a business, you must understand that you’re attempting to appeal to busy working professionals who don’t have time to spend on matters that don’t directly appeal to their needs. That’s why B2B sales professionals have been flocking to the world of marketing personalization. Changing your marketing messaging and mediums based on which audience segment you’re interacting with can create a more meaningful connection with prospective businesses and establish trust.
But it seems like personalization has become one of those hot-button terms in the marketing world. It’s something that everyone likes to say, but a great many don’t actually know what it means. So, what is personalization in B2B sales? Why do you need it? How can you get started on the road to personalization? How can you use personalization to improve your B2B conversions?
Read on to find out.
B2B marketing personalization is when a Business-to-Business organization uses audience data to create unique marketing experiences for specific segments of its audience. The experience will feel personalized to the wants and needs of the prospective customer.
For example, suppose a company sells products to doctors' offices, law offices, and accounting firms. In that case, the email marketing messages sent to each segment should reflect the person opening them. For example, someone at a medical office shouldn’t be getting a generic email focusing on every customer segment at once.
They should be opening an email specifically geared toward the medical community. While they may purchase the same products as a lawyer or an accountant, a medical office might have different needs and use those products differently. Therefore, the messaging should be geared toward the pain points of someone in the medical field, highlighting product or service use cases specific to their customer segment. The experience has now been personalized and has more meaning and use for the prospect.
Instead of deleting a generic email and unsubscribing from future marketing alerts, this medical office can derive value from the messaging and use it to move further along your sales funnel.
One thing to remember about your B2B customers is that when they’re not at work, they’re consumers purchasing their own products to use in their personal lives. Because personalization is so huge on B2C platforms like Amazon, they’re growing accustomed to the personalization experience and expect it when shopping for products and services to use in their professional lives. And because the hybrid work model continues to gain in popularity in a post-Covid world, you might reach these people at home. A seamless blend of B2C expectations with a B2B product or service could be more effective in this environment.
“Business buyers don’t go to work and forget what they do as humans,” Brian Solis, Altimeter's principal analyst, said in a blog post. “There’s a new normal that blurs the line between B2B and B2C. They just want things personalized.”
According to SalesForce, 66% of customers expect the companies they deal with to understand their needs and expectations. Personalizing the B2B sales process can showcase that level of understanding. You can craft a narrative that directly appeals to the prospect you’re trying to reach, which goes a long way toward establishing trust.
Additionally, personalization can help businesses optimize their marketing efforts for success in several ways, including:
In other words, marketing personalization isn’t just nice to have for B2B organizations like yours. It’s an absolute necessity.
Now that you understand what B2B personalization is and why it’s necessary for your sales success, it’s time to start talking about practical ways to implement it.
But before diving into specific ways that you can use personalization to improve your odds of sales success, we should first discuss the groundwork you need to lay before you can make the most of a personalization strategy.
To accurately personalize your marketing campaigns to specific segments of your audience, you first have to fully understand who the members of your B2B audience are. To that end, you’ll need to perform a ton of demographic research to get a broad look at who you’re marketing to and what they like to see.
When performing demographic research for a B2B audience, there are several criteria you need to look for. Some of these include:
Once you know all this information, you can start breaking your target audience into segments.
As you start to figure out how your audience breaks down, you can create buyer personas that identify prospect segments based on similar criteria. If you serve a broad B2B demographic, you may have several different buyer personas with varying degrees of importance.
Looking back on our example from earlier at a hypothetical B2B company that serves healthcare offices, law firms, and accounting firms, you might think that these companies would have just three buyer personas. But that’s not the case at all.
Within just the healthcare industry alone, you could have many buyer personas. For example, you can have buyer personas for different medical specializations, different-sized offices, etc. This provides you with a deeper personalization pool. For example, you can focus more expensive offerings on buyer personas with larger budgets and target specific cost-saving promotions at smaller organizations.
Another way that you can divide your audience for personalization is by lead score. By that, we mean a numerical score a piece of software assigns based on the actions and buyer personas of a prospect.
B2B leads have many specific characteristics that distinguish them from B2C users, so their lead scoring is no less critical. In this situation, the best software is HubSpot lead scoring because it creates accurate results.
Many B2B businesses opt for a customer data platform to collect and store this vital information and build detailed customer profiles for better personalization. However, many smaller companies suffice with a CRM as they come pre-packaged and are easier for non-enterprise users.
Once you have your leads scored, you can personalize your marketing efforts based on their likelihood of a purchase. For example, someone who's ready to buy might get sales promotions to urge them toward a conversion. In contrast, someone still in the discovery phase of the buyer’s journey might just get educational content meant to establish trust.
One common theme here is that personalization becomes infinitely easier when using the right technology. This could mean using a CRM to score your leads, segment the audience, and gather demographic data. The utilization of marketing technology empowers businesses to create genuine, tailored B2B experiences that resonate with clients and ultimately drive success.
Another effective way to use personalization tech to convert B2B leads into customers is with a platform like OAuth (open authorization). Systems like this allow users to authenticate and authorize access to customer data easily. This then allows for a seamless and secure personalized experience. You can even use these platforms to streamline the sign-up process and eliminate the need for customers to create yet another login, making it a win-win for both parties.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms can be hugely beneficial when personalizing the B2B marketing experience. These platforms can analyze behaviors and make key conclusions regarding the specific likes and dislikes of the target audience based on interactions and conversion metrics.
For example, if you’re using an AI chatbot, it can learn what kind of language your customers respond to and adjust its conversational skills accordingly. Essentially, automation and artificial intelligence platforms can help make personalization easier and more accessible.
Without these winning platforms, most of the following personalization strategies wouldn’t be possible.
It’s time to get our hands dirty, going through several ways that you can implement B2B sales personalization for your organization.
Digital ads can be one of your greatest sources of personalization. Thanks to ad platforms like Facebook and Google, you can use customer browsing data to identify your audience and market directly to them. This one-to-one ad personalization creates a truly unique experience for each user.
Ads were once generic and placed on websites that might appeal to a specific audience. But that's changed thanks to tech advancements, which have reshaped the entire marketing game.
Now, when a prospect opens a webpage or scrolls through their social media feed, they’re presented with paid ads selected for them based on a wealth of data.
You can run multiple digital ad campaigns catering to each buyer persona outlined in our earlier steps. Once you have these set up, you can let an ad automation platform like Google Ads or Facebook send your messaging out based on relevant data.
You can personalize your website to the customers you’re trying to reach. That means you can appeal to their specific needs and interests to keep them on your page longer instead of just creating a static offering everyone sees.
The website can showcase tailored messaging, custom hero images, different calls to action, and more based on the person who navigates to it. Using specialized software, you can identify the person trying to access your site and create a unique personalized user experience that'll urge them further through the sales funnel.
Let’s take our earlier example of a company marketing to healthcare offices, law firms, and accountants. If someone from a healthcare organization accesses its site, the messaging and imagery can change to reference healthcare pain points directly. The images can show medical personnel working with the product in question. You can even have custom use cases pop up highlighting past success you’ve seen in the healthcare industry.
Of course, if you can’t roll out this technology, you can still achieve this personalization through the landing pages connected to your digital ads. For example, when someone in your healthcare office marketing campaign clicks on an ad, it'll take them to a landing page geared toward their buyer persona.
Your email marketing is a perfect place for personalization. You can segment your mailing list by buyer persona and lead score to deliver tailored messaging, but that’s not all. You can personalize the subject lines of their emails, even referencing the individual by name.
Additionally, you can address the email to them within the email’s body. The messaging and associated imagery can be unique for each segment, allowing you to create a more personalized experience from the moment the email pops up in their inbox.
Although these emails were still mass-produced and sent out by automation software, you can make the recipient think that a person who has specifically researched them and their organization created them.
This can apply to both sales messaging and something like an email newsletter. Consider creating different newsletters for different buyer personas, making even this mass-delivered service feel as though it were painstakingly personalized for the specific customer that opens it.
You can use demographic information on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to note intent signals that'll help make the prospecting process much smarter. There are a variety of plugins to help integrate your website easily into your social media channels.
This includes gathering information on social posts within your target audience. Identifying trends here can help you determine the current common chatter among your target segments. You can then engage them by modifying your content to speak to their interests.
You can also note when your target businesses shift personnel through platforms like LinkedIn. For example, when a new person gets promoted into a decision-maker role, that becomes a new prospect for you to target. If you note a mass layoff or a considerable hiring boom within these companies, that'll give you a good idea of what position they’re in financially. This can, in turn, allow you to create better personalized communications.
Live chat services can boost your customer support system, providing 24/7 service to prospects and customers alike. But AI-driven chat tools can also be used for some fantastic personalization.
The chatbot will be able to remember previous interactions and identify a customer by name when they return to use the service for a second time. Additionally, the system can recognize high-value prospects and direct messaging accordingly.
If you’re using real human agents as part of your live chat experience, then you can hide the live chat feature from visitors with a lower lead score, reserving it only for VIP or enterprise-level leads requiring more direct attention.
Personalization isn’t just for B2C audiences anymore. B2B audiences demand that same treatment, and implementing the abovementioned tactics will help you convert more leads and close more sales.
Before starting on your personalization journey, make sure that you:
Once all that is done, you can convert more of your leads by:
By sticking to these personalization tactics, you can create a more welcoming experience designed with the customer in mind, making your prospects feel like true individuals as you coax them toward conversion.