In a world where marketing managers are struggling to demonstrate ROI, there is increased pressure on marketing teams to toss away wasteful scattershot approaches and focus on building relationships with targeted customers.
We can see its repercussions in the call for alignment between sales & marketing. And as a direct offshoot, we are witnessing a shift towards account-based marketing. In the words of Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at Demandbase:
"B2B marketers are realizing that marketing to large quantities of individuals doesn't result in quality sales opportunities. ABM is fast becoming the B2B strategy of choice because it truly aligns sales and marketing while focusing their teams on the highest value accounts. I expect adoption to grow rapidly as companies that have made this switch have seen tremendous results by focusing their efforts on attracting, engaging, converting and measuring the accounts that are most likely to buy.”
Serving Customer-Specific Digital Experiences on Scale
ABM has traditionally been an analog tactic, used only to target individual accounts. But with the availability of CMSes that allow sending or displaying highly-specific content on the basis of numerous parameters, it has become possible to serve personalized experiences to large quantities of individuals.
78% of chief marketing officers say personalized content is the future of marketing, while Marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized web experiences. (Source: Triblio)
Besides, customers appreciate intelligent personalization. 53% online consumers view personalized recommendations as a valuable service. And, banners ads that are personalized see 10 times higher click-through rates! (Source: Get Elastic)
Panacea or Poison? Personalization can HURT your Bottom Line If…
Looking at the data, implementation of personalization may seem like a no-brainer. But, it is not a power-up potion that will instantly take your marketing to the next level. You will have to overcome the following hurdles to benefit from personalization:
1. Limited Understanding of Audience & Lack of Segmentation
Can you relate with the following words from Harvard Business Review?
“Marketers aren’t unhappy because they can’t measure marketing performance… Their marketing strategies are often flawed and their spending is inefficient. With increasing precision, they’re measuring the impact of ill-defined targeting, weak positioning, mediocre advertising, pedestrian products and services, giveaway promotions, and poorly allocated spending.”
These thoughts, penned down a decade ago, highlight a fundamental flaw in marketing that is highly relevant in the context of personalization. In order to serve customer-specific content that converts, you will have to:
- Research and understand the goals, desires and behavior of your customers
- Identify the various segments under which your audience falls
- Map the most effective content with segments and serve it at the right stage in customer journey
Marketing teams that are not adept at identifying and targeting the right users with precise content simply do not possess the tools to implement personalization effectively. So, the first step is to really know your audience.
2. Inability to Create Effective Content for Segmented Audiences
Let’s assume that you know your audiences. The next task is to create content that the different target audiences want.
Answer honestly: do you have the ability to create engaging content for all the different segments your business serves? Take a look at the biggest challenges that marketers are facing today (from ContentMarketingProfs Report):
As you can see most B2B content creators find it challenging to create engaging content that is based on better understanding of audience. Remember that implementation of personalization doesn’t mean less work for the content creators: it means more work. Find answers to these questions:
- Do you have the ability to ramp up your content creation?
- Can your team create specific content for each segment – for mobile, websites, social media, emails, and other channels? You also have to dice and slice the content for different channels.
- Do you have resources to push the content across channels – content publishing will also require extra effort.
3. No Content Models & Strategy for Personalization
Let’s say you know your audience and you have the skills to create engaging content. With the complexity generated by personalization, it becomes vital to create detailed content models. If you already have a good content strategy, it will have to evolve to a higher level; if you don’t, things will quickly get out of hand.
Creating content models and a detailed content strategy that allows you to target users from various segments, at different stages of the buyer journey requires deep analytical skills. When you take into account the various parameters, at different stages, on the basis of which you can serve personalized content, you realize what a mammoth task this can be. This table from Sitefinity will give you an idea:
Creating content models requires strong analytical skills and lots of effort – but they make life easier for content editors, content creators, designers and information architects. Plus, you need to be flexible enough and makes changes based on the how successful or unsuccessful the personalization is. Without this detailed homework, content personalization is not possible.
Closing Thoughts: How to Succeed with Content Personalization
Before all else, become aware of the time, effort and money you will require, to implement personalization. Assess expected business outcomes, and check if the investment is likely to bring good ROI.
If you go for content personalization, you will have to: 1) Select the right CMS for personalization and 2) partner with a content management service provider capable of understanding (and technologically implementing) your content strategy and 3) Define the scope of your initial content personalization efforts – rolling out in stages can be a smart idea for most businesses.
Get these things right, and you stand a good chance of getting positive ROI from your content personalization efforts. All the best!