If you’re in the digital space, personalising campaigns is an effective way to get good results. While personalisation can be done in a range of ways, are the results generated worth the amount of time and energy it takes to personalise content and experience?

We discuss the art of personalisation with Jonathan Tam, Liferay’s Vice President of Marketing, and answer the question, ‘is it worth the hype?’. Read on to learn more about B2B personalisation, segmenting your audience and tools you can use to provide a tailored experience for every touchpoint across the customer journey.

B2B personalisation vs B2C personalisation

Creating a personalised experience for B2B can look vastly different when compared with creating one for B2C. While both business and consumer customer needs may run parallel, depending on who you’re targeting, your messaging will likely change.

At the end of the day, the key to a personalised message is developing one with the intention of helping people through their journey as a customer. Before developing your message, Jon recommends running through the following steps with your marketing team.

1. Segmenting your audience

Audience segmentation is crucial for personalisation. By slicing and dicing your audience based on a range of characteristics, you can ensure a more personalised experience for any persona. There are a few ways you can go about doing this: 

By industry

Jon says, “Industry is the most obvious way to segment and probably the one that most people start with. You can forget B2B companies in general or companies of any size and focus solely on the industry, such as manufacturing. If you start there, you can assess the challenges manufacturers typically run into, which may differ from other industries you support, helping you narrow it from that standpoint.”

By company size

“Another dimension that you can personalise off of is company size,” says Jon, “Small market companies or small to mid-sized companies are going to act and feel different than enterprise companies and also have different sets of challenges that need to be addressed with your marketing strategy.”

By user non-negotiables

The most complex by far is based on the user experience — and what they expect. Jon uses the example, “A developer is going to care about different things than a marketer, HR representative, customer support rep, or a sales person. That’s why it’s necessary to understand each persona and personalise at that level.”

“As a marketer, I would see one message, a developer would see another message and an IT person would see a completely different message. Then you can further break it down by function, so the Head of Marketing would see one message, but this message would be altered for the eyes of a marketing manager or specialist.”

2. Prioritising what to personalise

Once you begin to segment your audience, it can get difficult to distinguish priority. Jon says, “It’s often qualitative because it depends on how good your CRM system or account management system is. You’ll also have to ask, what are the relationships you have within your existing accounts? And what are you seeing in your opportunities?”

“Sales is the number one resource to us when prioritising your strategy. Most sales processes define who are your economic buyers and what their roles are. Every system lets you map this out and gives you the resources to qualitatively analyse these personas.”

Doing external research is also important. Whether it's working with a portfolio team or engaging an agency, you have to consider who's typically involved in it and what their role is, which can then be used to prioritise your target audiences.

Jon says, “I think most companies, especially in our space, have said, ‘IT buys a DXP based on their personal priority.’ But, if you go talk to some of the analyst firms out there, and just even from our own research, IT is having less and less buying power and authority. Being more driven by the business, we can find the persona and then depending on what we're selling, we start to prioritise the different functions.”

3. Using the right tools to personalise the digital experience

Personalisation is often as good as the tools you use to implement. However, it’s important to make sure they’re talking to each other and that the data you’re collecting is being used to strengthen the campaign.

Website

Jon says, “This is the most obvious way to personalise and also the one with the highest traffic. By utilising a web personalisation software, such as Liferay, you are able to analyse traffic based on the attributes of the audience coming in and work out a strategy that serves up the best message for them when they arrive on a landing page.”

Advertising

Personalisation is also key when it comes to targeting ads. Jon details, “When we are going after specific accounts or industries, we really have to nail the messaging. For example, people in manufacturing are getting a manufacturing related ad, then leading them to a manufacturing related webpage, landing page or piece of content. And at the same time we'll also try and send out tailored or personalised email nurture streams. So when they do fill out that form for whatever that offer is, the user is still seeing content that's relevant for them at the highest level.”

Is it possible to over-personalise?

While personalisation can provide a more positive user experience, data can also be used to hyper personalise, which can sometimes come off as creepy or abrasive. Jon says, “Especially in B2B, we almost can't get down to the individual level. As marketers, we need to be mindful of what prospects are looking at and how you’re pushing it to them without being too salesy.”

“The other part of over personalisation falls on behaviour. When you take a look at how long someone is spending on a website and what they’re doing where, you can actually run into issues where customers can’t find the page that they were looking at previously because it had changed so many times and everything was dynamically generated. Losing that site map and cookie trail by over-personalising to that extent can prevent you from getting users to that next stage.”

“You have to consider balance and if people try and get too fancy with personalisation, you can either move them too fast or just lose prospects all together.”

How has COVID-19 affected the personalised experience

As more and more brands turn to digital through the ongoing pandemic, personalisation has become even more important to cut through all the noise. Jon says, “It's easier to personalise during COVID-19 because there's more activity happening digitally. With even more interaction points, it's easier to capture leads. Pre-pandemic we relied largely on round tables, events and in-person conversations which required the sales team to take notes and input them into the system. But now that prospects are interacting digitally, we can track all of this information seamlessly.”

In some ways it’s been more challenging to personalise, which Jon details, “The harder part of that is now there is so much more data out there that needs to be included. For example, if a customer has to enter their account number when they call in, they don't want the customer service rep to ask for it again. It's that same thing digitally now. If a customer clicks through an ad, downloads something, and then fills out a form addressing their challenges, if they’re sent back a generic piece of information that doesn’t speak to their problems, you've lost your prospect.”

“They’ll be thinking ‘what was the point of doing all of that, if they don’t actually understand what I need’. So it all comes back more on marketers to know what customers are looking for and being able to serve up that personalised experience based on data.”

The future of personalisation

Personalisation is here to stay, but how will it evolve as time goes on? Jon says, “Where I could see it going forward is based on all of the different interaction points. Being able to utilise that data quicker across the different touch points is probably the next step we need to get to.”

Ready to enhance your digital customer support strategy with personalisation? Discover the opportunities Liferay DXP can bring your organisation and how you can continue to make strides, even during a crisis.

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