from Digital Marketing

Does Personalized Content Work for B2B Marketing?

By Doug Fowler
March 22, 2018 - read

 The future of sales growth in B2B marketing

Inbound Marketing sites often helpfully provide lots of advice on using personalized content for Business-to-Consumer industries—like retail shopping or restaurants—which is great for those businesses, but what about B2B?

There are big differences in what B2B prospects prioritize when it comes to their purchasing decisions, but that doesn't mean you should abandon the "personal touch!"

How can you successfully personalize B2B marketing? Let's take a look.

It's Not Just One Person Calling All The Shots

Deciding on if you want Taco Bell Nacho Fries doesn't usually involve lengthy budgetary meetings with Jim from Accounting and Jolene the VP on whether or not it's a feasible purchasing decision.

Maybe that is how buying Taco Bell for dinner happens in some households—we're not here to judge—we just feel like it's safe to say it's pretty rare.

On the other hand, a company's decision to purchase a product or service almost always requires deliberations by multiple people on whether or not the purchase will provide enough value to offset what it takes out of the company's overall budget. If you're a camp trying to find a mattress manufacturer that can provide you with both the bed frames AND bed bug-proof mattresses you need, you can't just pull names out of a hat and hand over your debit card like you can with restaurants.

So knowing that whoever you're selling to is often a few people who ultimately need to come to a consensus, uncertainty about how to find and market to all these different people can lead B2B marketing teams to fall back on stale and emotionally distant content that bores just about everybody except maybe Jim from Accounting.

Sorry, Jim.

Personalized marketing can't work if it nearly all takes place online and has to target whole groups of very different people, right? 

Wrong. But, you've got to start with impersonal information first.

Let's Talk About The Three A's: Alignment, Analytics, and Automation

The same advances in technology that have led to the end of the "cold-call sales" heyday can help you keep things efficient without sacrificing the personal touch. You'll need to embrace the three A's: alignment, automation, and analytics.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

Sales and marketing alignment is an essential step. When your sales and marketing teams don't share goals or even information, all the technological advances in the world can't help.

When marketing tells a prospect one thing but sales tells them another, prospects may become disgruntled or unhappy and choose a more consistent competitor instead. If marketing doesn't even know what sales uses for lead-scoring or what it takes for a lead to be considered sales qualified, you'll be left with lots of leads you can't use (or worse: no leads at all).

Follow our 5 best practices for sales and marketing alignment in order to build sales and marketing teams who work together to create detailed sales profiles and that personalize content to an individual prospect's needs efficiently and easily, as well as making the most of the new analytics and automation tools.

Web Analytics

Web analytics tools like Google Analytics and the HubSpot Sales Hub have the power to narrow information down to an individual user's activity, including which website pages a specific prospect is visiting, how long they spend there, which pages draw the most conversions, what social media posts they're interacting with, and more.

These tools can also provide basic demographic information (company size, geographic location) and make it easier to break a big business down into the small, personal details that turn faceless prospects into human beings even before active contact is made.

How can you successfully use all that interesting information without bogging your marketing team down? Through the magic of marketing automation, of course!

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation can give you a huge lift up over the competition. The ability to craft email newsletters, social media posts and blogs, targeted offers, and just about any other content ahead of time and schedule it to publish when Sales Qualified Leads are active (plus the ability to change that automation to match a change in prospects or entire new potential client industries) is cost-effective, efficient, and successful. 

We don't need to wait around for a prospect to contact us, or chase them down with spammy sales tactics. Instead, we can follow them through their purchasing process and provide exactly what they want when they want to see it.

One example:

  • The head of Marketing for a medium-sized business in Greenville, SC, recently signed up for our monthly newsletter.
  • She's visited our site four times in two months, and engaged with the content on each visit.
  • A previously scheduled monthly newsletter arrives in her inbox and includes a link to a web design ebook. 
  • She downloads the ebook.
  • Later that month, she reads several blogs on Inbound Marketing.
  • Because she used her company email address to download the offer, we know who she works for and we're able to visit her employer's site.
  • The company's website is outdated and difficult to use, and they don't seem to have much of an online presence.

All we've actively done is written an email newsletter and visited a website. The ebook already existed, as did all the blogs and site content. That email was scheduled using marketing automation. With just two easy actions, we're able to build an individualized profile of our potential client:

  • She came to our site through a Google search on "digital marketing Greenville SC", so she probably wants to keep things local.
  • Her job title suggests a busy woman with lots of ongoing projects looking for a reputable company to take this problem off her hands.
  • Her activity on our blog indicates an interest in digital marketing services as well as web design.

This gives us plenty of information to hand off to Sales, and now Sales has everything they need to get started putting together a personalized sales process that will help our new friend build the online presence her company deserves.

All These Seemingly Impersonal Tools Support the Personal Touch

As our example showed, impersonal tools like analytics and automation helped us to be able to deliver personalied content marketing to an individual prospect. Inbound Marketing is all about meeting people right where they are, and analytics and automation tools are an integral part of the process.

What does this mean for your digital marketing strategy going forward?

Use new marketing tools to match individual needs. Interactive tools like live chat (or semi-automated chatbots) and customer-relationship-management software (like the FREE HubSpot CRM) allow companies to build personalized profiles of prospective leads and answer their questions in real time.

Customer tracking tools may help you "delight" repeat customers by providing specialized, targeted offers they can use. If your company previously sold one product to company's account manager, and you've noticed they've begun researching other products you offer, you may be able to empower your sales team to offer special discounts or pricing based on the prior sales deal.

Your marketing team will have access to even more content marketing tools to drive growth and success. Advances in marketing platforms and marketing automation services allow for a previously unprecedented level of personalized content:

  • Online comparisons of your product vs. competitors
  • Demos of available products and services
  • Webinars
  • Interactive content like email marketing
  • Informational and entertaining video marketing
  • Content marketing tools like blog posts or ebooks
  • Algorithms that suggest new products based on past purchases
  • and more

Whether you utilize an in-house marketing team or you outsource to an Inbound Marketing agency like Waypost Marketing, new tools and technology seem tailor-made for B2B companies looking to find success using personalized marketing tools.  

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Tags: Digital Marketing