The importance of personalisation in marketing

Phil Vallender avatar
Phil Vallender

Jun 23, 2015

The ability to personalise digital marketing to the individual is now essential in effective B2B marketing. As a result, your customer and contact data is now one of your company's most valuable assets and it is your duty to keep it in good order.

B2B buyers no longer respond favourably to advertising, lumpy mail and one-size-fits-all email blasts. Instead, to reach a buyer now, you need to provide real value. Providing value requires you to demonstrate that you know who your buyer is and tailor their experience of your company to their unique needs. This tailoring of the experience can only begin if you have salient and actionable data with which to personalise your marketing.

What is personalisation?

Personalisation is the act of dynamically changing the content of your marketing depending on who's looking at it.

Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing here and learn all about this  powerful approach to generating leads and sales.

The most basic form of personalisation is the insertion of an individual's contact data such as their first name or the name of the company they work for. This type of personalisation has been a feature of most respectable email marketing platforms for some time and is the easiest to implement. With advancements in content management and marketing automation systems, it's also becoming easier to add this type of personalisation to your company's website.

A step on from this is to customise the content (meaning copy and images) that your viewer sees based on information you know about them. This approach, increasingly known as contextual marketing, relies on your ability to segment your data meaningfully, for example by industry, role or lifecycle stage.

Once you know how to personalise and contextualise your digital marketing, you unlock the possibility of creating highly individualised customer journeys, within which web pages, calls to action, content offers and emails are all adapted to the needs of specific groups of buyers and personalised to each one.

Explicit vs. implicit personalisation

The above are all examples of explicit personalisation, where data that is known or has been gathered, through forms for example, is used to determine what content is shown. It's possible however, with the right software, to personalise content for anonymous visitors too.

Implicit personalisation uses information about a user's geography or device, as determined by their browser and settings, to control the content that is displayed. In this way it's possible to optimise the content that you display, for example, to North Americans vs. UK visitors or to mobile users vs. desktop ones.

Why personalise?

Personalisation is the necessary antidote to a tidal wave of generic marketing that confronts buyers daily. It has the ability to carve out a connection and engage buyers whilst everything else is ignored. While savvy B2B buyers implicitly know that most personalisation has to be automated by marketers, they still appreciate and respond to the effort that is being taken to serve their specific needs with the most relevant information.

"Statistics show that personalisation can improve marketing performance at almost every stage of the customer lifecycle" [Tweet this]

Statistics show that personalisation can improve marketing performance at almost every stage of the customer lifecycle, increasing engagement, conversions, average purchase and lifetime value. For example:

  • Personalized subject lines deliver 26% higher unique open rates. Source: Experian
  • Personalised emails improve click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. Source: Aberdeen
  • Businesses that are currently personalising web experiences are seeing an increase in sales of 19% on average. Source: econsultancy

Data is the vital ingredient in personalisation

When it comes to explicit personalisation, your results can only ever be as good as the data you use. Segmentation of contact data drives contextualisation, while individual contact fields are used to populate personalisation placeholders. Trying to personalise content to bad data can cause big problems of its own; for example, sending an email intended for customers to all your prospects too can lead to much more than just embarrassment.

Yet for many businesses, small and large, data represents a real challenge - small datasets quickly growing to be out of control and out of sync. Even the implementation of a CRM system often fails to fully resolve the problem, creating new issues arising from lack of data strategy and CRM training.

Steps you should take with your data

If the scenario above sounds at all familiar to you, it's time to take responsibility for the condition of your data. The steps that you need to take, in order to enable personalisation of your digital marketing, will vary depending on your specific set of conditions, but think about the following:

  • Get all you data into one place and one format to create a master set
  • Invest in cleaning your existing data - marketing to old data wastes money
  • Decide on a data strategy and train sales how/why they should comply
  • Ensure that segmentation by lifecycle stage is possible i.e. customer vs. opportunity vs. lead
  • Review integrations to make sure they work properly

It could be time to automate marketing

If you want to make personalising your marketing even easier, you should consider implementing a marketing automation platform. This can give you an unprecedented single view of the customer and makes it easier for your entire organisation to collaborate around data. With good marketing automation in place, both implicit and explicit personalisation are not just possible, but easy to do.

Inbound Marketing


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