Relevance is the backbone of any successful B2B marketing campaign. It can mean the difference between your prospects and customers feeling that you’re constantly and generically selling to them, or that you’re building a valuable relationship with them by truly paying attention to who they are and what they and their business need. As B2B marketers, it can feel like we haven’t yet cracked the code on exactly how to do this, but everyone else—from our competitors to our B2C counterparts—has. That’s not necessarily true, but it should be motivating to ensure we’re planning and acting now to make the necessary advancements, so we aren’t left behind.
We know Account Based Marketing (ABM) is the gold standard in delivering personalized, relevant content to prospective B2B customer teams. ABM enables marketers to target the ultimate decision maker, and any stakeholders who have influence throughout the buying process, with messages and content that are tailored to that particular B2B customer.
Shar Berwick, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Comcast Business, emphasized the importance of this ability to communicate with a broader audience. “We’re looking to expand and uncover more entry points into our larger accounts [by] creating marketing content that speaks to business needs outside of our traditional IT/network buyers. Our solutions can help impact many aspects of an organization—from sales and marketing to finance and customer service.” Comcast Business leans on ABM digital display and print in vertical-specific online publications to target stakeholders in different departments within prospective enterprise accounts.
According to a survey by the ITSMA, 42% of respondents indicated that ABM delivered significantly higher ROI than other marketing initiatives and in a SiriusDecisions study, 92% of companies surveyed called Account Based Marketing a B2B must-have. However, only 20% have had full programs in place for more than one year, and 47% don’t feel their teams have the skills or support to succeed at ABM.
Businesses who aren’t yet prepared to invest in the technology and resources required to launch an ABM strategy can still leverage a few key components of ABM to improve their cross-channel interactions with prospects and customers:
Data collection and analysis to provide insights into how to best serve prospect and customer needs
Targeted communications to segmented audiences to ensure the message is personalized and relevant
Engaging content to further drive relevance
Integrated messages across all communication channels and touchpoints
The sales cycle for a B2B product or service can be long. Ongoing, meaningful relationships with prospects are essential – which means every single touchpoint needs to be relevant. Otherwise, it’s just a barrage of sales tactics that can drive a prospect sprinting toward your competition. In a Demand Metric Benchmark Report, lead generation was the most cited objective for B2B content marketing initiatives, and 80% of respondents indicated that personalized content was more effective.
The list of tactics to be leveraged in targeted prospect communications is extensive and should be customized with the target’s name and title as well as tailored to their industry, location, department, business size and stage in the purchase funnel. Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. Companies that personalize their online experience see an average increase of 19% in sales. And leads who are nurtured with targeted content—whitepapers, data sheets, infographics, case studies, videos, etc.—produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities.
Berwick notes that the B2B marketing team at Comcast Business is focused on “tighter alignment with sales by developing content to engage more in LinkedIn via digital ads, InMail and PointDrive.” She stressed that, regardless of the tactic being used, it’s critical to think of B2B/enterprise customers as people to successfully connect with them. “As B2B marketers, we often lose sight that, in the end, we’re still selling to people and not inanimate organizations. While there may be committees looking to serve an organization’s needs, under it all there are still people at the end of the line.”
The best relationships between a brand and its customers require loyalty on both sides, so companies need to ensure their customers feel valued. Multiple opportunities exist to deliver a personalized, relevant experience to current customers to do just that, using rDialogue’s Loyalty 3.0 framework:
Learning: from ensuring a smooth new customer on-boarding experience to educating customers about general business or industry-specific topics, how to get the most from products they currently have, and additional products that could benefit their particular business or situation.
Financial: conduct periodic, complementary account reviews to ensure the customer has the right level and types of service/products for their needs.
Time: deliver a time-saving, convenient experience with customer-specific navigation on your website. It should be easy to access their account and view/pay their bill. Everything they see should be relevant to their industry/business (when possible), available to them, and reflect the pricing that applies to them.
Access: give customers exclusive or first access to product launches and enhancements that are relevant to them. Depending on the industry, access to business networking events or exclusive experiences can make customers feel particularly appreciated.
Know Me: at every interaction, customers expect businesses to understand their wants and anticipate their needs. A personalized home page/dashboard and an easy-to-navigate FAQ page ensure the most requested/used information is easy to find online. And any communication that goes to the customer must be personalized based on the products and services they already have to ensure the message relevant to them.
Regardless of the audience, delivering a consistent, relevant message across channels is critical to the success of a campaign. Research from Accenture Digital and SAP Hybris indicates that only 20% of B2B buyers purchase mostly from a sales representative today, so converting the other 80% requires personalizing as much as possible of the prospect or customer experience.
More than 75% of respondents in the Demand Metric Benchmark Report indicated that their organization plans on increasing the use of personalization over the next 12 months, and many are looking to implement content personalization tools to help make the process more efficient and effective. Even without activating a full-blown ABM strategy, the businesses with enhanced personalization in their marketing roadmap will inevitably deliver more relevant communications to their target audience and have a significant competitive edge over the businesses who do not. So let’s get moving.
To learn more about personalization, how it can be used to deliver relevance to consumers, what concerns consumers may have about data, and how personalization factors into Loyalty 3.0, check out our new white paper.