On a scale of one to 10, if you had to rate your organization’s success at personalizing the buyer experience, what score would you ascribe? Is it a high score, one that reflects your company’s understanding of the importance of personalized marketing? Or is it on the lower end, proving that you’ve let personalization fall by the wayside—spending time and funds on other types of marketing strategies to close deals?
More than ever, personalization matters. It drives better performance and better outcomes and helps companies grow and scale faster than those that don’t, especially since 71% of customers expect companies to deliver personalized, engaging interactions.
Personalization also helps us add value to the buyer’s journey, differentiate our brand from our competitors, and create a deeper, more purposeful dialogue with our customers, which is invaluable given the current market downturn. It’s a way of rewarding them for their time, attention, engagement, and, hopefully, business. After all, personalization is the key to understanding your audience better. And if you can understand them better, you can serve them better.
Fortunately, adding a personal touch to your current marketing and sales strategy isn’t that difficult—no matter your size or industry, you can still make a big impact with minimal resources. RollWorks' Director of Communications and Content Sara Ajemian, alongside leading B2B marketing experts from ON24, NetLine, and Parmonic, recently sat down to discuss how to build personalization playbooks that work.
Here were their top six recommendations:
1. Give yourself some grace
As marketers and salespeople—the ones primarily responsible for driving revenue—you have a lot on your plate. You wear many hats, attend many meetings, and pull many levers to help get your key accounts through the funnel. A lot is expected of you, especially by, well, you.
So, when it comes to personalized marketing, one of the most important, but most difficult, things for marketers to do is scale back. Instead of casting a wide net for leads, narrow your lens and focus only on a handful of specific decision makers from your target account list (TAL). It’s easier and more beneficial to get to know a lot about a small number of people than a little about a lot. By going the extra mile and seeking out information that may not be readily available in their LinkedIn profile or company website—in a non-creepy, stalkerish way, of course—you’re proving that while you don’t know them, you’d like to in order to accurately cater to them.
What’s more, whether you’re in marketing or sales, remember you’re not the only one within your organization trying to personalize buyer experiences. Other core teams—as well as company partners—are as well, so to give yourself leeway, lean on them for personalization strategies. Speak to each other and share data systems so your personalization efforts aren't canceled out, or worse yet, completely misdirected.
2. Keep it simple
For the most part, marketers and salespeople fall into two camps when it comes to personalized marketing: They either do what everyone else is doing—adding company logos and names to mailers—or they don’t do it at all because they wrongly assume it’s time-consuming, costly, and unnecessary.
Luckily, the most effective personalized marketing campaigns (whether that’s via direct mail, digital content, or email) are simple and small, like recognizing a recent job shift or acknowledging a corporate milestone. It doesn’t have to be grandiose or perfect, but it does have to be impactful. Because while it doesn’t take a lot to make someone feel seen, heard, and appreciated, it does make a huge difference in the relationship you’re cultivating with the account—even if it doesn’t end in an immediate sale.
3. Bring back the marketing magic
When it comes to personalized marketing, while there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there is overdone, cosmetic marketing:
Running the same mundane plays over and over expecting different, more profitable results
Using outdated, irrelevant data points and statistics for outreach
Sending generic content to every account that matches your ideal customer profile (ICP)
So, in an effort to prevent marketing from becoming too commoditized, you need to humanize it. Create personalized content that speaks to the person you’re talking to—not just the company they work for—and take them on a custom journey that touches on their job title, work experience, and pain points.
4. Invest in your customers’ future successes
Since 2020, trust in business has steadily been on the rise. You’re expected to act with customers’ interests in mind, make honest claims about your social initiatives, and tell the truth.
Thankfully, this is all made easier with personalized marketing. By acknowledging your lack of knowledge and familiarity with your customers—i.e., being wholeheartedly honest and transparent about the information you’d like but lack—you’re allowing your customers to become allies on the journey. You're creating a safe, authentic space where you can offer bite-sized, valuable content (like webinars and eBooks) that can help you get to know them better, learn their needs and wants, and quickly move the needle. The more marketing is done through a customer-centric mindset, the easier it will be to make your relationship with them an equitable exchange—one that builds two-way confidence, trust, and loyalty.
5. Don’t over-rely on data
Looking at too many intent signals—i.e. suffering from a bit of analysis paralysis—and overloading on metrics makes it especially difficult to create a personal connection. Since personalization is about relationship building, it’s important to not depend solely on dashboards with automated data.
Instead, listen and pay attention to what your customers are saying (and not saying) during phone calls, lunch meetings, and conferences. Check out their Zoom backgrounds—are they surrounded by plants or children’s artwork?—and bring it up in casual conversation. During virtual events, take notes on their input, sports teams or vacations they reference, and questions or comments they leave in the feedback box.
Smart marketers leverage things like webinar attendee engagement and poll answers to better personalize outreach and enable sales with topics to discuss—and ones to steer clear of. Uncovering why you won a sale—what was the competitive difference, tipping point, accelerator, decelerator, effective dialogues—is not always captured on a dashboard.
6. Make it top down
To effectively prioritize personalization externally, you need to advocate for it internally—through some form of “personalized wins channel or message board where you can learn about the opportunities your team helped create. In a virtual environment especially, sometimes a quick “check out this awesome response I received from a sales email” can really brighten your day, break up the repetitive marketing/sales cycle, stir up some momentum, cultivate culture, and allow you to celebrate accomplishments with your team.
By adding a personal touch to your marketing efforts—using any and all of these six tips—you’ll be better positioned to capture the attention of your buyers, capitalize on commonalities, and increase the likelihood of conversion.