How considered purchase marketers can benefit
By Adam Mertz
As customer expectations for personalization reach an all-time high, the modern digital era is being defined by user experiences and preferences. In a saturated and information-overloaded market, the ability to break through the noise and deliver personalized web experiences at the individual level directly influences the customer relationship: and business growth.
The concept of web personalization isn’t new. As consumers, it’s hard to remember the days before Netflix recommended a movie we might like or Amazon promoted similar products to our recent searches. Many business-to-consumer (B2C) companies have followed suit, making sure that related products are highlighted, promoted and easily purchased.
Meanwhile, content marketing has become a significant component for marketers with considered purchase sales motions, and with good reason. Brand awareness and credibility are built by offering solution-based, engaging content. Content — whether it be ebooks, blog posts, datasheets, survey reports, infographics, webinars— is shared across multiple channels while ultimately living on the business’s web site(s).
Where considered purchase marketers have a huge opportunity, however, is getting the most relevant content in front of the right audiences when they’re on the sites. This personalized component to content marketing is what especially influences the buyer journey and, ultimately, gets prospects to convert to loyal customers.
Can B2B catch up to B2C?
But this message of personalization has not been adopted by companies across the board. A recent State of Marketing Automation report by Act-On with London Research found that business-to-business (B2B) companies are half as likely as their B2C peers to adopt behaviour-based web site personalization.
This prompts the simple question: Why is that? The answer lies in how considered purchase marketers allocate their resources. They tend to focus their behaviour-based personalization efforts on paid advertising and what prospects are searching for online to drive traffic to their web sites.
However, this behaviour-based personalization too often falls to the wayside when it comes to engaging web site visitors. That’s because for too long the available tools have been too complex, take too many resources to execute and have been too expensive.
A sea change is occurring in this web site personalization area, providing a huge opportunity to take content marketing strategies to the next level. While B2B marketers for considered purchase products might not be dishing up quick-buy recommendations, it’s now possible for them to utilize these B2C tactics to promote personalized web content to expedite and nurture the customer journey.
The many new tools now available are smarter e.g. artificial intelligence (AI)-based), easier to use and less expensive. But most B2B marketers are still of the mindset that there aren’t enough resources to support personalized web experiences. They have not yet realized they can leverage AI to drive these intelligent individual-level content recommendations based on buyer behaviours without adding any additional work for their marketing teams.
Let’s take a step back and think about how marketing and sales for considered purchases work. Compared to the B2C shopping cart business models, most B2B considered purchase sales cycles are longer and more complicated, involving larger investments that require multiple decision-makers. This creates the need to continually keep prospects and customers engaged throughout the buying journey.
But B2C and B2B sales cycles start the same, however. And both business types make (or should make) relevant, valuable content, whether it be a resourceful ebook or a recommended product, conveniently visible for their web sites’ visitors.
Ad retargeting and paid ad personalization is a key tactic often leveraged. But now is the time for every marketer, whether a team of one or 100, to be leveraging personalization technologies and tactics when people are visiting their company’s web site.
Optimally leveraging resources
So, how can your business use personalized content to win sales from other businesses? Remember, your web site is at the forefront of your business, serving as the central location for audiences to assess how your solution solves their problems. When a prospect lands on your web page, whether they arrive from clicking on a social media post, digital ad, third-party article or any number of other inbound marketing channels, this conversion should be considered a success. You’ve worked hard to create dozens, if not hundreds, of content pieces that would be helpful for them.
But simply having referral traffic and content libraries aren’t enough in today’s competitive market; you can’t identify your solution with your audience’s pain points if they can’t find it. And unfortunately, you shouldn’t rely on your prospects and customers to keep searching on their own. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 56% of customers expect to find the information they want in less than three clicks.
In other words, don’t let that hard work of creating content and generating inbound traffic go to waste. Web content personalization keeps content fresh and relevant at the individual level. And from a marketer’s perspective, it provides greater opportunity for interested visitors to fill out a form for gated content (e.g. an ebook or report). This allows you to enter them into a nurture campaign or even identify them as a warm lead. Lower bounce rates, higher chance of collecting their information: all with a tailored customer experience for the web visitor.
Accelerate inbound marketing results
When you provide a unique and customized experience that “listens” to prospects’ behaviours in real-time and points them in the direction they’re showing interest in, you’re guiding them along the sales cycle and developing brand trust.
So, the longer someone is exploring your web site, the further along the customer journey they’re going to travel and the more helpful you’ll be in your marketing messaging and sales approach. As they engage, their digital breadcrumbs become a treasure trove of data that can better inform you of their needs and empower you to personalize their web site experience in real time.
As companies, whether B2B or B2C, that have considered purchase models seek ways to maximize their resources, enhance the customer experience and develop trust and credibility, implementing personalization that’s as simple as intelligent content recommendations should be a top priority.
It’s time for considered purchase marketers to look beyond generating traffic and expand their focus toward finding solutions that enable them to keep visitors on their web sites so they can engage and nurture a relationship with them. It’s time for considered purchase marketers to embrace the new king of modern digital marketing: personalized content.
Adam Mertz is formerly vice president, Marketing and Strategy at Act-On Software.