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SearchChat Podcast: Gartner Predicts the Death of Personalization

Gartner’s prediction that personalization will be dead by 2025 was an attention grabbing headline Gartner Predicts 80% of Marketers Will Abandon Personalization Efforts by 2025 If consumers increasingly expect companies to know them, how can this be?

Steve Zakur breaks down the drivers of the assertion as being primarily the challenges posed with personal data.  As consumers have become “ad blind” to personalized emails and businesses don’t want the responsibility for customer’s personal data management, it seems likely personalization would be abandoned by marketers.

Steve explains that a personalized experience, like SoloSegment’s GuideBox provides, can deliver a personal experience without relying on personal data. 

As personalization as we’ve known it dies (and maybe sooner than 2025) there emerges a new opportunity to create relevant customer experiences that could show customers that you “know” them without knowing their personal information. This can be of particularly high value in the B2B space where the buying cycle is long and many different players participate in the customer journey.

Adapting quickly to changes as discussed in SearchChat Podcast: Marketers Succeed at What They Rehearse – SoloSegment is important in responding to an ever changing environment.  Executing proof of concepts with different layers of the MarTech stack as Gartner suggests, allows marketers to prove out value before making big investments.

0:00 Intro

1:52 Gartner predicts the death of personalization

13:55 Why personalization without personal information matters

16:12 The future of personalization for B2B marketers, creating relevant customer experiences

22:26  Experimentation at different layers of the MarTech stack

25:55 Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company. If you think we might have the answer to your conversion problems, feel free to connect with us.

How Heavy Industry Marketers Deliver Relevant Customer Experiences in a GDPR World

Improving Customer Engagement in Heavy Industry Use Cases

Marketers working in machinery, chemicals and other heavy industries have long been behind the digital curve. For many companies, digital hasn’t become part of your repertoire as quickly because of the complex distribution channels and analogue ways of engaging with clients. 

But many, including you, are now realizing that there’s money left on the table as buyer’s pre-sales and sales behavior changes. It’s time to up your digital engagement game. More relevant customer experiences are one way to make that happen. 

How do heavy industry marketers improve customer engagement?

  1. Focus on emerging technologies–don’t buy yesterday’s engagement platforms
  2. Adopt visitor identification technology because it will align with your account-based marketing efforts.
  3. Leverage technologies that won’t commit you to personal information.

Before we get started with what to do, it’s probably worth talking about the personal information headwinds that heavy industry marketers will face delivering more relevant customer experiences.

Regulation Makes Relevant Customer Experiences More Difficult

Marketing leaders realize that they’re caught in a personal data vise. Customers desire personalized experiences. However, customers now know how we do that–with their personal information–and despite our data-driven world, it’s become clear that people are increasingly uncomfortable with what companies are doing with their data. It’s a rationale belief. Some of us have betrayed their trust. 

GDPR was not a battle, it’s a trend. Many countries and states are implementing their own versions of GDPR. I recently had a master services agreement to sign that had EU, Argentina and California language all in it. Despite all this legal jargon, it’s not just the regulatory environment we need to look at, but what’s driving the actions of regulators. 

People Drive Privacy Regulation

People are increasingly asking regulators and the industry to add restrictions to a company’s ability to use personal information. That leaves digital marketers in this post-GDPR, post-personal-information-collection world, having to deal with the reality that the tools they use today that rely on personal information may not be available in the future.

This includes everything from email campaigns to website personalization to ad retargeting. In addition, the social channels that B2B marketers are beginning to rely on, places like LinkedIn and Facebook, will likely continue to change their targeting capabilities in ways that make a marketer’s job more difficult.

With the viability of current personalization tactics coming into question, what is a marketer to do? For industrial marketers, this is your moment to pull ahead.

Leapfrog From “Smart” Solutions to AI-Fuelled Personalization 

Many heavy industry companies are still stuck in the past of “smart” solutions. This is largely rules driven automation that requires human involvement and manually collected data. Their capabilities fall far short of what AI-based technologies can deliver today. Many more companies have missed personalization altogether. But there is now another wave of personalization different from the first wave. Even if you missed the first personal-info-fuelled wave altogether, you can hop on board. This is true of almost everything in your tech stack.

The idea of leapfrogging from behind in tech isn’t new. I like to point to India, which 20 years ago had very few people with access to household telephones. As technology got cheaper and easier to deploy, they didn’t go put landlines in their houses. They deployed an excellent cell phone network. 

Digital marketers in industries that are very late to adopt digital technology, especially in engagement with visitors and customer experience improvements, can now leapfrog a lot of the technologies that have been used in the past.

Where do you find these emerging technologies? Talk to people outside your industry. Attend trade shows. Take that occasional meeting with a sales rep. 

Take An Account Based Approach

For heavy industry marketers at the beginning of their digital journeys, start by looking into visitor ID technologies so you can understand if the visitor is in a target company. Isn’t that the same as the personalization thing we just said was on its way out? Nope, this is different.

Visitor ID tech doesn’t identify Jane, the employee. Instead the tech identifies the IP address (and other data) that connects the visitor to a company. Why is this better for you? It does avoid you having to store a lot of personal information on your own systems. Management of that data is only going to be more costly and complex in the future. But what it really does is allow you to leverage digital information about accounts with the account based approach your sales team is already pursuing.

Consider Intent Based Personalization For Heavy Industry

The questions you really need answered when marketing to a prospect are not who they are specifically — that’s just a shortcut to identify personas and get answers to the real questions about buyer intent. So, let’s skip right to models that look at the buyer intent. When we can use technology to discern the context of a visitor’s journey–what they’re looking at, how they got there, where they should go next–we can determine intent. Natural language processing helps evaluate what the content is about, which offers hints about the visitor’s industry or topic of interest. Put these data sets together and you have the opportunity to do “personalization” without personal information. That’s an excellent customer experience.

We’ve been utilizing intent based personalization technology to help customers here at SoloSegment, and the key aspect is modelling journeys that have occurred on the site over time, and looking for patterns in visitor behavior. From there we can match that journey to similar journeys that have been successful. Our technology, GuideBox, can then automatically make content recommendations to help journeys progress. You can look at the data you have now or can easily gather today to get clues about what someone’s trying to achieve, and personalize based on their perceived goal.

Don’t Follow. Lead.

Personalized experiences are the benchmark customer experience that your visitors seek. For companies that desire to accelerate their digital transformation and deliver on the customer expectation, B2C offers an appealing model. Don’t be tempted.

While B2C models can provide frameworks for embracing digital transformations, they’re often enabled by structured data (e.g. catalogs, conversions, etc) that don’t exist in complex B2B marketing and sales processes. And the increasing pressure on personal information is going to make a PI data-driven technologies more challenging to implement and maintain.

Smart B2B marketing leaders will leap-frog traditional personalization platforms and get started with technologies that both suit their unique needs, for example, dealing with large amounts of unstructured data, and don’t rely upon an increasingly challenging personal information landscape.

SearchChat Podcast: Google Is Evil

Google’s business model was built on a symbiotic relationship between companies who want their content to be seen, and Google rewarding them for quality content. To be fair, this was so Google could sell ads, but it worked out well for mostly all parties involved. 

That’s broken down. 

SearchChat Podcast: Marketers Succeed at What They Rehearse

On this episode of SearchChat, SoloSegment’s CEO, Steve Zakur and I talk about personalization and the lessons we’ve learned from working with clients. We talk about the data that you need to get started and lessons that you can learn about how to deliver on a personalization initiative from both musicians and the military.

Forget AI expertise. You need domain expertise to succeed.

At the heart of all great businesses are domain experts who are excellent at execution. Regardless of whether the business remains highly analog (increasingly rare in today’s marketplace) or is the latest emerging digital start-up domain expertise and execution wins over technology disruption alone.

SearchChat Podcast: Making Companies More Human with Mark Schaefer

In this week’s episode of SearchChat, we interview Mark Schaefer, co-host of Marketing Companion Podcast, on what it means to make companies more human. What does he reveal? That the needs and expectations of our customers are seriously far off from where companies think they are. 

When B2B Personalization is Too Hard to Implement

I had a conversation several weeks ago with a large data company, discussing behavior based personalization. The VP of Marketing heard me out for a few minutes, and then said “Woah, wait a minute. So it’s personalization? I already have that.”

So I said “Oh, how’s that going? What are you seeing?”

And he said, “Well, we haven’t turned it on yet.”

Outrun Your Competitors With AI

There’s an old joke about two guys walking through the woods. All of a sudden they see a bear, and the bear starts moving towards them. The first guy sits down, pulls a pair of running shoes out of his backpack and slides them on. The second guy says, “What are you doing? You’re not going to outrun that bear.” And the first guy says, “I don’t have to outrun that bear. I just have to outrun you.” 

Is AI All Hype Right Now?

Recently on our podcast we talked about a conversation Tim Peter had with a colleague.  The discussion revolved around AI. Tim was asked an intriguing question.

“Come on. All this AI stuff, when we talk about marketing and all that, that’s all just hype, right?” 

SearchChat Podcast: Key Marketing Lessons from MarTech East

Steve and I spent time together recently at both a Red Sox game but more importantly, at MarTech East in Boston. The shift in conversation was wildly fascinating: the focus seemed to be personalization, privacy, and security.