Content personalization has been recommended for the top of most marketer’s to-do lists for several years. In fact, according to SmarterHQ, 51% of marketers say personalization is their top priority - and 79% of retail marketers are investing in it, the most of any industry.
But personalized content isn’t only for ecommerce and retail brands. B2B companies can benefit from personalization, and this article covers a few advanced techniques for B2B marketers.
Why Personalization Matters for B2B
Personalization is an important tactic for all marketers. But it is especially important for B2B marketers for several reasons.
By tailoring your content more closely to what your subscribers want, you can improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. According to Monetate, 95% of companies that saw 3x ROI from their personalization efforts increased profitability in the year after their personalization efforts.
This shows that once marketers are able to start personalizing content and do some testing, their efforts are almost immediately rewarded. It is worth the time and energy to develop a personalization strategy for your marketing initiatives.
For most B2B marketers, there is a finite number of potential customers. There are only so many businesses of any type that can use your product or service - and while new businesses are created, it may be a couple of years before they are eligible to use your product or service. Additionally, you’ll be battling your competitors for the customers that do exist.
All of this creates an environment where list degradation and unsubscribes are even more important than they might be to retail brands. If you aren’t personalizing your content and making it as valuable as it can be for your subscribers, you’re likely losing a higher number of subscribers than you should be. According to Snov.io, companies that employ personalization tactics retain 10% more of their subscribers than those who don’t over 1 year.
Email personalization is another way to gain a competitive advantage with your marketing and build a preference for your brand over others. That can be huge when you consider that employees receive an average of 120 emails to his or her inbox every day, according to TechJury.
Personalizing Content for B2B
There are many ways to personalize content for B2B audiences. In this article, we’ll be using a basic B2B personalization concept (topic personalization) and applying some advanced techniques to achieve it. This article isn’t intended to be comprehensive, but rather to serve as a starting point.
When we talk about topic personalization, what we mean is allowing your subscribers to choose the topic of contents they want to subscribe to and/or building your communications based on a relevant business attribute (i.e. industry.)
There are two basic steps for achieving this. The first step is to segment your subscribers. Then you’ll need to set up your emails.
Step 1: Segment Your Audience
As mentioned, there are a few different ways you can segment your audience. You can either segment them based on their self-selected interests, their interactions with your brand, or based on an attribute their company has.
If you want to allow your audience to self-select, you’ll need to develop an email preferences page that allows them to opt-in and out of the different content types or topics that your company develops content around.
For example, if your company produces content about integrating your product with both Pardot and Marketo, then you may want to allow subscribers to identify whether they want your Pardot information, your Marketo information, or both.
The most important thing to remember with this method is that you need to honor your preference center. That means if subscribers sign up for Pardot-specific content, you need to serve them Pardot-specific content. Your subscribers will feel frustrated if they’ve made a choice and you serve them all of your content all of the time.
Depending on your marketing automation system, you may be able to build lists of contacts based on pages they’ve looked at on your website. For example, if a subscriber only looks at information about your Pardot integration, you might only send them Pardot-specific information.
If you are a Pardot user, you would apply Page Actions to the pages or blog posts that discuss relevant topics to set up this strategy.
This can feel like a very custom, personalized touch to a customer. However, many potential customers may venture out of their area of true interest to examine your brand as a whole during the decision-making process. They may also click something accidentally. If you apply this strategy, it is worth keeping an eye on how many subscribers are receiving multiple content types and whether or not that makes sense for your business.
The last segmentation strategy you can use for personalization are company attributes. These are data points like company size or industry. If these are key components to determining which companies fall into your target market, and your team produces different content for large/small companies, or companies in certain industries, then this may be a better way for you to segment your audience, rather than allowing them to self-select.
Once you have your audience segmented, you’ll need to build out emails so that each member of your audience gets the content he or she is most interested in.
Step 2: Build Your Emails
Believe it or not, all emails are not created equal. Some email-building processes are time-consuming and manual, while others are completely automated. We’ll dive into different strategies for creating these personalized messages.
The simplest and most straightforward way to build out your personalized emails involves creating a separate email for each list. Back to our example - that would mean creating 1 email for your Pardot list, 1 for your Marketo list, and 1 for anyone on both lists.
When you only have 3 possible combinations, this manual method seems doable. But if your company requires more than a couple of choices for personalization, this won’t be sustainable.
Additionally, building out separate emails can create errors. For example, you might accidentally copy the wrong information for the wrong audience.
While there is nothing “wrong” with creating separate emails, some of the other personalization email building methods will save you time.
Dynamic content, AKA adaptive content, refers to content blocks in your emails (or landing pages, etc.) that change based on an audience member’s attributes.
By using dynamic content, you would only build 1 email, but the content blocks would change depending on who was receiving it.
This method can save you some time, as you aren’t building separate emails for each audience type/member. However, you still need to format the content you are placing in each of the dynamic content blocks, so it isn’t a completely automated solution.
In Pardot, Dynamic Content has some limitations and can be a bit clunky to use overall. It is also hard to test your emails once you have built them.
FeedOtter can help you automate this process by building your emails for you based on the tags or type of content you need to send to your subscribers. You can even schedule the emails to go out at a certain time for you. It also seamlessly integrates with your ESP to manage your emails all in one place. By having the correct emails built for you, you can save time building emails and put that towards creating great content instead.
I’ll be diving deeper on each of these strategies for Pardot users and answering Q&A in our upcoming webinar on August 19 at 1pm ET. I will also be releasing free in-depth guides on the more complex strategies to everyone who registers. I look forward to seeing you there!