Personalization is one of the most-discussed topics in marketing today, B2B or otherwise, and with all the chatter it can be a little tricky to separate fact from fiction. At MarketingProfs B2B Forum on Tuesday afternoon, Arm Treasure Data’s* Global Head of Marketing Tom Treanor took the stage to serve up some truth.
By offering clarity around what separates the leaders from the learners on this critical frontier, his session provided a blueprint for refining and improving our efforts to get in sync with customers and prospects.
B2B Personalization Is Challenging (But Critical!)
During another session earlier in the day, Samantha Stone of The Marketing Advisory offered up some truth of her own, which resonated with Tom and I: “We need to worry less about creating scale, and more about creating relationships in our marketing.”
Amen. It seems like B2B marketers are getting so bogged down in the complexities of personalization at scale that we sometimes lose sight of how vital the core principle is. When we fail to tailor our marketing, or try and miss the mark, it can create a disconnect that derails brand engagement, affinity, and loyalty. We also need to come to grips with the fact that consumer experiences are raising the bar.
“B2B buyers want to buy like they’re buying on Amazon,” Tom says. “Our customer journeys need to match the level of what they expect.”
Intuitively, most of us get this. As Tom puts it, “People want you to understand them.” But when our marketing message conveys the opposite, it inhibits our ability to develop those quality customer relationships Samantha emphasized. This frontier only grows more essential as millennials – who statistically value personalization more than preceding generational cohorts – come to occupy a vast majority of the buying population.
But the conundrum we run into is this: How can a large organization marketing to thousands of people really understand each of those people distinctly? Most don’t have the resources, sophistication, or business models to mimic what Amazon does. But, we don’t need to. Tom explains that the path to success lies in rethinking what personalization really means, and getting our data in order.
Learning from Leaders in Personalization
Working with global enterprise brands regularly in his role with Arm Treasure Data, Tom fully understands the widespread reservations about personalization at scale. But the concept becomes less intimidating when you shift your perspective, thinking more about channels than individual people.
“Omnichannel personalization is not about personalizing every touchpoint at all times,” he explains. “It’s about personalizing experience on the channels each customer prefers at the time when they’re ready.”
Tailoring to context goes a long way. When you align with the mindset and intent of a user, they’ll feel a lot more like you’re speaking to them directly. A key step to creating this alignment, according to Tom, is through the creation of a Golden Customer Profile, which he describes as “a clear understanding of how a person or account is interacting, and what their relationship is with your business.”
Developing an accurate Golden Customer Profile requires the effective leveraging of all pertinent customer information. Tom shared research from Arm Treasure Data identifying traits that differentiate the leaders (companies that are ahead of the pack when it comes to personalization, and seeing business results) from the learners (those that still have a ways to go).
Leaders vs. Learners
To win at personalization, leaders use data differently. Tom drills this down to four categories:
- Smarter: Leaders stay on top of advancements in the space, and take advantage of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- Wider: Leaders are able to ingest and manage more data, while keeping it organized and actionable.
- Deeper: Leaders are more granular in their segmentation, helping generate more acutely tailored profiles.
- Faster: Leaders are able to deliver personalized experiences in real-time, keeping pace with customer expectations.
Tom also notes that one clear trend he’s seeing among top performers is the integration of product data and customer data, providing a more holistic view of how people are using solutions and why. “Combining that is really powerful,” he states, adding that he’s seen it lead to increased user acquisition, decreased churn, and better coordination.
Finally, Tom suggests the right tools and technologies can greatly aid a journey from learner to leader, adding that customer data platforms (CDPs) like Arm Treasure Data’s solution are specialized for such purposes, offering independence, flexibility, and persistence that legacy data management platforms (DMPs) cannot.
Simplifying the Premise of Personalization
When we asked Tom ahead of his session what his top recommendation is for marketers when it comes to maximizing the impact of data for personalization, here’s what he had to say:
“Find those parts of your customer experience that deserve the most personalization. Make sure you have the data in place to understand where that prospect or customer is in the customer journey (and where they’re most responsive) so you can deliver a specific message. Take the extra effort to communicate to them in their preferred channel and with that message at that important point.”
When put that way, it doesn’t sound all that overwhelmingly complicated, does it? And it shouldn’t! Context and timing are of the essence. Once you’ve wrapped your arms around your customer data – optimizing the way you collect it, store it, manage it, and understand it – the truth is that personalizing becomes far more simple and effective.
*Disclosure: Arm Treasure Data is a TopRank Marketing client.