It doesn’t matter if it‘s a birthday cake or a prospecting email, everything is better when it’s personalized. B2C and eCommerce brands long ago realized the importance of personalization, and have capitalized on buyers’ demographics, interests and buying preferences in an effort to tailor their marketing campaigns and advertising efforts. This high level of personalization has made things difficult for B2B marketers, as buyers have come to expect a personalized purchase experience regardless of the vendor, leaving B2B CMOs and their teams to play catch-up to their B2C counterparts.
Earlier this year, Seismic partnered with Demand Metric on a report titled Content Marketing’s Evolution: The Age of Hyper-Personalization and Automation, to find out just how effective content personalization can be in B2B, and where B2B organizations currently stand in terms of personalization prowess. Through this research, Demand Metric found that 61 percent of B2B organizations personalize some marketing content, but more than half have only been doing so for two years or less. On average, organizations personalize just over 50 percent of their content, and 80 percent of those that personalize any amount of content find it to be “more effective” or “much more effective” than generic content. As a result, 78 percent of respondents plan to increase the use of personalization in the next 12 months.
While there’s no denying the importance and benefit of content personalization, organizations have a long way to go when it comes to reaching the Holy Grail of one-to-one personalization. According to the Demand Metric report, 59 percent of respondents say they don’t have the technology and resources necessary to personalize content at scale. For this reason, it’s important for CMOs and their teams to start small by understanding what types and levels of personalization are possible for different buyers, purchase stages, and interactions. Below are five levels of personalization, highlighted in the aforementioned Demand Metric report, that CMOs can use to assess and scale their personalization efforts.
Content at this level is personalized by industry vertical or segment criteria. Content should be specific to a buyer’s industry, such as manufacturing, financial services, or healthcare, for example. Buyers in each industry have varying needs and goals, but this broad-spectrum level of personalization does not drill down further than industry or business segment.
Persona-specific content is personalized for specific buyer types or roles. This could indicate title level (such as executive, director, or manager), or could refer to the type of role the person holds. Content should take both role- and level-specific needs and goals into consideration when created.
Content at this level is personalized for a specific stage in the buying process. Buyers have different levels of familiarity and knowledge of vendors at different stages of the decision-making process, so content must be personalized to address those needs and answer questions at various levels of specificity. Typically content personalized at early stages of the buying process are more introductory and educational, and as the buyer moves through the process, content gets more complex and product-centric.
Content at the account level is personalized for a specific prospect organization. Content should address the company by name, but should also understand and speak to the organization’s specific needs.
Lead-specific content is personalized for an individual lead. This level should encompass each level above by addressing the individual’s industry vertical, persona, stage, and organization. This can be thought of as the Holy Grail of content personalization, as it’s incredibly difficult to achieve lead-specific, one-to-one personalization through manual processes.
Organizations that have reached the “Lead” level of personalization have done so through a balance of dedicated resources and technology, because manually personalizing content at this level is detrimentally tedious, if not impossible. CMOs that empower buyer-focused content creators with content automation technology will help their teams reach this “Holy Grail” of one-to-one content personalization.