B2B marketers overwhelmingly agree that buyers expect an experience personalized to their needs and preferences across sales and marketing. Personalization capabilities and components are distributed throughout the B2B marketing technology stack, but organizations often struggle to define an audience-centric view of the role of personalization that extends throughout the customer lifecycle.
Too often, personalization starts with execution, guided by technology capabilities before articulating the strategy and design of personalized tactics from the customer’s point of view or how new learnings from interaction behaviors will be used to further refine personalization techniques deemed tried and true. It’s time to prompt a conversation among lifecycle revenue marketing team members, functions, and individual contributors about the role of personalization in optimizing the B2B customer experience.
B2B Personalization: It’s Complicated
From their consumer interactions, B2B buyers and customers are already aware that they’re signaling their interests and self-identifying through their behavior, content consumption, and social activities — and that providers can use these insights to deliver relevance, value, and instant gratification in tactic interactions. Frontline B2B marketers must not only understand the dynamics of buyer and customer groups at any point in time but also connect their digital and non-digital interactions to deliver relevant — and above all, accurate — personalization.
Five Questions To Inspire Conversation On B2B Personalization
Customer obsession is a call to action for B2B marketers to reexamine and redefine how they’re using personalization, not to increase conversion rates but to put the customer first. Meaningfully personalized interactions demonstrate a commitment to be responsive, relevant, respectful, and aligned around a common goal of helping buyers and customers make better decisions. Use these five questions to guide conversation around what’s working and what could work better in your organization’s approach to B2B personalization:
- How will personalization contribute to value delivery for the target audience? Personalization drives data-driven content experiences that help confirm fit with need. B2B personalization must be behavior-based and buying-group-aware to predict and deliver the optimal interaction experience by tuning in to audience signals. Personalizing tactics based on interest and behavior signals allows marketer and machine to work together to deepen engagement with an audience through what is needed most in that moment: relevance.
- Where in the B2B customer lifecycle will personalization have the most impact? B2B buyers crave different types of personalization throughout the customer lifecycle. For example, Forrester’s research shows that personalization targeted to specific needs is most impactful in the early stages of discovery, while personalization based on organization increases in impact closer to purchase and post-sale. Understanding where buyers and customers most value personalized interactions and mapping content, decisioning, and data elements accordingly helps balance resources and return.
- How will the tactic be tailored to the audience? Personalization is anchored to the experience. It involves not just the selection of delivery mechanisms and sequencing of assets but also the tone, style, pacing, and visual elements that combine to create that experience. Varying levels of personalization can be deployed across tactics for a demonstrable lift in engagement, from broad-based personalization at the market level to one-to-one personalization or any segment in between. Personalization will soon become a key use case for generative AI in B2B marketing, helping create thousands of variations of text or image content components to support dynamic assembly of personalized tactics.
- Where will personalization be delivered, and what are the rules? Persona interaction preferences and knowledge requirements guide personalization deployment. Delivery mechanism selection, timing, and triggers must adapt to audience interaction preferences, behavior, and content consumption. Unification of audience data allows organizations to integrate the personalization techniques that depend on that data for activation across delivery channels and interaction types while proving new audience insights to receiving functions and systems.
- What metrics measure personalization performance and return? Though personalization success can be measured via short-term activity metrics, studying interactions over time to understand audience engagement, database growth and profile completeness, and influence on conversion provides a more comprehensive view. Test personalization inputs at the program and tactic levels to assess top-performing variables and their potential impact. Performance measurement and analysis should be aimed at understanding how B2B personalization contributes to the buyer’s and customer’s perceived value of those interactions.
Join us at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America in Austin, June 5–7, for continued conversation on personalization in the B2B customer lifecycle. Check out my session, “Personal But Not Creepy: Personalization Attitudes And Altitudes In B2B Marketing.”