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B2B marketers report that the importance of personalization in their marketing will double over the next two years. Thirty-six percent (36%) told us that personalization is critical for their business today, but that percentage will rise to 78% two years from now. Why is personalization so important? Two reasons. First, buyers want and expect it. And second, personalization, when done right, delivers results.
There are a variety of ways to personalize marketing. The methods fall into three basic categories:
- Demographics. Demographic personalization is based on easily identifiable account and individual characteristics such as industry, geographic location, title or role, age, and top education level attained.
- Behavior-based. Behavior-based personalization is using current (e.g, web page views, whitepaper downloads) and past behavior (e.g., purchase history) to deliver personalized sales and marketing experiences.
- Explicit. With explicit personalization, there is no guesswork or interpretation. The individual you are marketing to tells you their interests and preferences for how they want to be communicated with. For example, “I am interested in cloud infrastructure, and I want to receive your monthly newsletter, but not your daily updates.”
The Current State of Personalization
Using demographics is the easiest and most often used technique for personalizing marketing content and delivery. The next most commonly used technique is behavior-based personalization, particularly buyer personas and behavior-based triggered messaging. (Although most of the marketers who say they are using buyer personas are most likely not personalizing based on buyer behavior, but rather on roles.)
Despite the hype, few marketers are currently using predictive, prescriptive, and cognitive techniques for personalization. In the future, these techniques are going to be big! Today, technology offers marketers the promise of personalization at scale, but tomorrow that promise is going to become reality.
Interestingly, explicit personalization has been around for 20+ years, so we were surprised to see that only half of marketers are using it. The challenge with explicit personalization is data quality, maintenance, and management, and then of course, executing programs based on the data. These alone are major hardships, but then we layer on top regulatory and compliance issues, and the benefits of explicit personalization might not outweigh the challenges.
Personalization Leaders Go Beyond Demographics
The leaders in ITSMA’s recent survey on B2B Marketing Personalization take a different approach to personalization. They are using multiple personalization techniques. Rather than relying on demographics, the leaders are also using behavior-based, triggered messaging and explicit personalization. The leaders also have a head start with predictive, prescriptive, and cognitive techniques for personalization.
If the goal is to personalize marketing with a personal touch, relying on demographics is not going to get you there. Our advice? Follow the leaders.
For more information on what the marketing personalization leaders are doing, view ITSMA’s survey report, B2B Marketing Personalization Survey: Valuable Lessons from Industry Leaders, or listen to our webcast replay on the survey findings.
Thirty-six percent of B2B marketers tell us that marketing personalization is critical for their business, that number will double over the next two years...