Look at the universe of people who visit your Web site. Some may be known, but most are not. Most anonymous visitors take no specific action to identify themselves, so how can B2B marketers most effectively market to them to drive higher conversion to inquiries?

I once posed this question in a webinar, in pursuit of novel applications for the natural language search software I was marketing. My answer was: Drive visitors to a prominent Google-like search interface, encourage them to enter specific, long-tail search queries, then let the technology under the covers determine intent from the query and dynamically render intent-specific content (and navigation taxonomy) on the page. That is, supply a Web site experience completely adaptive to the questions or search strings a visitor types into the search box.

Of course, most marketers lack the Ph.D. in semantics or linguistics to make that kind of solution work effectively, though technology advances will make this type of tool much more accessible to marketers. Meanwhile, there are alternative approaches that are considerably easier to execute:

  • The conversion-optimized experience. With pre-defined personas in hand, marketers can use the dynamic content capabilities of many Web content management systems (WCMSs) to personalize page content based on information picked up from cookies in the visitor’s browser and the behavior the visitor demonstrates on the site. Model and define optimal paths through the Web site for each persona, with content and offers specific to the needs of each, and dynamic by stage of buying cycle. Define the conditional logic in the WCMS to determine which visitors are tagged for the pre-defined persona-specific conversion paths, then configure the analytics package to measure the conversion effectiveness of those pre-defined paths relative to conversion rates from non-path Web site experiences. Despite implementation and monitoring challenges, this approach will differentiate your site from the typical product-centric informational site that’s heavy on feature/function content and light on the navigational aids that ensure visitors find the information they need.
  • Second chances. Retargeting allows marketers to tag Web site pages with tracking codes. When visitors land on tagged pages, a cookie is dropped on their computer indicating they are part of a population that visited certain pages, consumed specific content or exhibited attractive behavior. As the visitor moves from the site to other destinations, ad-serving platforms detect the cookies and use them to determine if an ad should be displayed, and how that ad should be personalized to be contextually relevant. The next time you shop online, add something to the cart, and then DON’T purchase the item. Note how frequently you then see ads for that retailer (and that item) as you navigate the Web. B2B marketers are using retargeting for visitors who abandon forms, visitors who visit pricing and other high-value pages, and visitors who identify as specific personas but do not convert. The opportunities to provide contextually relevant ads and content off-site are becoming even more relevant as retargeting extends to search, social and even email behaviors.