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5 Advantages of Website Personalization

Your website visitors increasingly expect a personalized website experience. Using website personalization to deliver on this expectation can help improve your customer’s journey on your website, driving meaningful interactions and increasing your website’s conversion rate. After all, your website is an engine to drive more sales and is your company’s only 24/7 salesperson.

However, many businesses struggle with website personalization, especially if they’re unsure of who their customer is. Even when using techniques like account-based marketing, most companies still fail to identify 85% of their website traffic or more. 

A lack of personalized content creates challenges for your customers – and your business. Content that is misaligned with your website visitor’s goals means they can’t find what they are looking for, leading to low conversion rates and high bounce rates. 

The Advantages of Website Personalization 

While there are a wide array of benefits of website personalization, some of the most common include: 

  • Drive more revenue: B2B organizations using anonymous, behavior-based website personalization tools drive between a 5-15% increase in revenue. According to Monetate, 93% of surveyed companies agreed that advanced site personalization led to revenue growth.
  • Better marketing-spend efficiency: B2B organizations using website personalization tools can increase marketing spend efficiency by 10-30% or more.  
  • Improve efficiency for sales and marketing: Marketing spend efficiency is only part of the equation. Site personalization can lead to more qualified interactions and fewer cold calls and follow-up emails. 
  • Increased website engagement: A reduced bounce rate, fewer page edits, and longer website journeys are all direct results of website personalization tools and improved engagement.
  • Know your visitors better: Not only will your site visitors feel like you understand them, but your metrics will back up that feeling. As visitors interact with your personalized content, you can iterate and drive further improvements to deliver what customers are  looking for at precisely the right moment. 

Website Personalization Tools with SoloSegment 

Want to learn more? Discover how your business’s website can overcome personalization issues today. SoloSegment GuideBox(™) is the website personalization tool you’ve been looking for. GuideBox users typically experience a 139% increase in website engagement and an 80% reduction in page exits.
Learn more about the benefits of website personalization today

Why Remote Work Makes B2B Personalization More Challenging – SoloSegment SearchChat (2.2)

In this episode of SoloSegment SearchChat, hosts Tim Peter and SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur dive even deeper into SoloSegment’s new report, “B2B Website Engagement in a Changed World”. Among other topics, Tim and Steve take a look at:

  • How the shift to digital during the pandemic has changed B2B marketing forever
  • Why remote work makes B2B personalization more challenging
  • Why account-based marketing is a business strategy, not a technology
  • And how savvy B2B marketers use their websites to reach customers no matter where they work today… or in the future.

Subscribe to SoloSegment SearchChat

SearchChat 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.

Season 2: Episode 2 Transcript

Hi, and welcome to SoloSegment SearchChat. I’m Tim Peter, in this episode of SoloSegment SearchChat, SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur and I talk about:

  • How the shift to digital during the pandemic has changed B2B marketing forever
  • Why remote work makes B2B personalization more challenging
  • Why account-based marketing is a business strategy, not a technology
  • And how savvy B2B marketers use their websites to reach customers no matter where they work today… or in the future.

All that and more in the latest SoloSegment SearchChat coming at you right about now.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Tim:
Well, hi Steve. How are you?

Steve:
I have to be honest Tim. I’m a little tired. I went on my first business trip this week. Out to Chicago for a couple of days and took the late flight back, rolled in about 1:00 A.M. And I feel it a little bit this morning but other than that, can’t complain.

Tim:
What you’re saying is, you’ve been home for a year and complaining about the fact that I can’t go anywhere and now you finally took a trip. And the first thing you have to say is, “boohoo. I am tired.”

Steve:
Isn’t that human nature? But yeah. No. It is funny. Mike and I were chatting and… Went out to Chicago to see Mike and it was like well, when was the last time we saw one another face-to-face? And I think it was like February of last year. It’s certainly has been 14, 15 months, maybe longer than that.

Tim:
Yeah. That’s crazy.

Steve:
Maybe I can’t count, but yeah. Anyway, you’re right. I should not complain because it was just lovely to be out of the house. It was a great thing.

Tim:
You can always complain to me Steve.

Steve:
Yeah.

Tim:
It’s okay. I’m just having a little fun pulling your pigtails here. Excuse me. Let’s see, we were talking last time about this new report we had on Website Engagement.

Steve:
Right.

Tim:
And one of the things that I thought was really interesting in the report was that it focuses a lot on how things have changed. And especially when we talk about 2020, we all know it was a quote unquote unprecedented year. We saw precedent to change, yadi, yada, yada.

Steve:
True.

Tim:
But also there really was a lot of change. You saw some really dramatic changes in people’s behaviors, in buyer’s behaviors, in the way that businesses run their businesses. And the like and I’d love to hear your thoughts about that.

Steve:
Yeah. Well, it’s almost like if I comment on the things changed, it’s like pointing out the obvious. I think we already all really got… I mean, just look at like the work from home stats, you shared some stuff with me earlier today but I think we all profoundly felt it, right? Our study, I think the data in our studies showed that 46% of people were working from home last year and that was up and I didn’t realize it was so low, but like up from a baseline of 5%.

Tim:
Yeah.

Steve:
Just the fact that that was a real fundamental shift. And what’s really interesting about that is, when I was at IBM, we had this couple, almost a decade, but it was certainly multi-year move out of the office, right?

Tim:
Mhhmm.

Steve:
Because we became location agnostic, right? You’d find the best talent no matter where they were and if they weren’t near an office then they could work from home. And we slung shot back into the office because people are effective in the office.

Tim:
Sure. Right.

Steve:
And there was probably some study that they cited there but back in the 2015 time period, there was this move, and a couple of big companies went this way. Which was, get everybody back in the office because it’s the best way to go. And I think what we’ve proved last year was, it doesn’t matter so much. But what we’re all concerned with these days and work from home is a good example of this, is, what does last year mean in the context of the future, right? Where things are going.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And I think what we have in our learning about work from home, those lessons are going to transfer to a whole bunch of areas, including digital marketing. But if you look at the data, while it was 46% work from home at its peak last year, and some of the prognosticators were saying, “well, that probably could be 20% permanently.”

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And so that is a quadrupling.

Tim:
And whether that’s 20% of people or whether it’s everybody who works from home one day a week or something like that.

Steve:
Right. Yeah. Exactly.

Tim:
Right

Steve:
But just a lot has changed about our notions, about the effectiveness of this thing, the technologies that support it, processes, behaviors, I think just in general, people have got become a lot more comfortable with looking at video screens, even though as I learned over the past couple of days, being with someone in person, not as effective. I think in the long run-

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
We have to have a mix of that. But even if you accept that or prognosticators are wrong by a 100%, that still means work from home is going to double.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And I think the lesson that transfers for almost any discipline but certainly for marketers and I think about investing framework for my finance background because I’m a finance guy by trade. And I would be short on the past right? On all of the techniques and behaviors of the past, I would not invest in those. And where I would belong, right? Where I would be investing is the things we learned from last year. And do we need to triple, quadruple, whatever multiple you choose of our investments and our changes to support those new behaviors, I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what the factor is but I think we definitely demonstrated that there are other ways to do business. And one of the things that’s relevant to digital marketers certainly is that digital went from being pretty important and an accelerating trend to being really important and a trend that just is… it’s here to stay and if you’re missing that boat, you’re missing that boat.

Tim:
Well. And before you go there, because first of all, I think you’re right, obviously, I mean, we’ve talked about this stuff a lot, but the other thing that I think is worth noting is, this 46% working from home or the 20% that they’re projecting may work remotely and the like. Those numbers are actually a little conservative if you’re in B2B, right?

Steve:
Yeah.

Tim:
Because the people you’re selling to most of the time… There are obvious cases, we have clients on the like, who work with people who have manufacturing plants and all. Obviously, the people who were in the manufacturing plants are going to continue to be in the manufacturing plants. But many of the people we work with, many of the people we talk to, many of the people who are looking at the kinds of things that we do are talking to people who work in an office.

Steve:
Yes.

Tim:
And I bet, I’m going to go out on a little limb. That 46% number was of all the respondents to a survey, not just the ones that worked in [inaudible 00:06:55] .

Steve:
If you’re a knowledge worker or if you’re a Deloitte, if you’re Goldman, it was 100%, right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
Those people are just not in the office.

Tim:
To your point of going long on, whether 20% is the right number or 10% is the right number, it probably isn’t 5%. And so going along on that, makes a lot of sense from that perspective.

Steve:
Betting on digital and these changed behavior supported by digital. Yes. You’ll make a ton of money if I were [inaudible 00:07:23] on that boat in the long run.

Tim:
Yeah.

Steve:
By the way, if you feel obligated to say, past results are no [inaudible 00:07:29] for future performance. Thought to your Investment advisor. Sure.

Tim:
No. That’s great. All right. If this is the case, I mean, well, before we go there, are there other trends that we seen over the last year or other things that have come up as a result of more people working from home and the like, that have an impact on people’s ability to do digital marketing more effectively?

Steve:
Yeah. Well, I mean, certainly now, we have what we’ve seen certainly in our data and what this research report supported was that the buyer behaviors are changing and accelerating towards digital. I don’t recall the exact numbers from report I read probably a year or two ago that talked about how much content that B2B buyers were consuming before they made decisions. But when you look at the data and the report that we had put together, it talks about the number of pieces of content, the percentage of visitors who are doing digital, online research. Forrester published a report that showed 82% of buyers look at least five pieces of content from a vendor prior to purchase. And that’s at least, right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
I mean, that’s the basement. And so the behaviors that we see on websites and by the way, we see it on our client’s websites, so that’s the data that we’re seeing. Is that they continue to be these long buying cycles that are supported or that support their budget cycles but it’s this behavior where they’re coming again and again to the website and something like 80% of the information that they need in order to make a purchase decision, is consumed before they even contact the company. Before they raise their hand and say, I’m Steve, and I’m really interest in your stuff and I want to talk to somebody or want to get a demo, right? They’re like 80% of the way there. And when you think about, 61% of these two transactions start online, right? No longer is your sales team, no longer is event marketing, although we all hope that in-person events come back, right? We’re all excited about that.

Steve:
But at the same time, that used to be the start of the journey. And I think that event marketing is going to be just yet another content opportunity that supports a journey again, that likely started online. And so, again and again, we’re seeing… If you talk about the behaviors I would go long on, that I would be investing in in the future, it’s these behaviors that I think are sticking from the past year.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
Which is everything starts digital now, right? There are no longer is, I went to the trade show and the seed got planted and that’s going to nurture. I think that those behaviors are permanently changed. Permanently changed for 100% of the population, no. But for a large part of the population, you bet you.

Tim:
Well, And that gets to a key point. And you and I were talking about this before we started recording. Before we hit the record button. But it’s this interesting thing of when people heal people like you or me or others talk about this, there’s this tendency to assume that everybody’s saying, oh my gosh, this is a hundred percent of… Sorry, there’s a tendency for people to hear that what we’re saying is it’s going to change a hundred percent of everything. And nobody’s actually saying that, what we are saying is, if you knew your business was going to be permanently affected.

Steve:
Right.

Tim:
To the tune of 10% or 15% or 20%.

Steve:
Sure.

Tim:
Right? You’d probably want to do something about that right?

Steve:
Sure.

Tim:
It’s not that a 100% of the people you’ve been selling to will not go to trade shows. It’s not that 100% of the people you’ve been selling to won’t pick up the phone and talk to the salespeople, it’s that a healthy percent and a percent that affects your bottom line won’t.

Steve:
Yeah. No. That’s exactly right. And its what he has. Well, it was 40% of people were working for home last year, it’ll only be 20 or 10%. Right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
But it still has two or three times, four times what it used to be and the same could be said of any marketing tactic that you could run. Last year was probably an outlier for consumption of digital content but it’s not going back to what it was in 2019.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And the fact that… And again, we don’t have data on this number, but I can imagine especially for, if you were a knowledge worker in B2B, 100% of your, I wonder if there’s a solution to this problem, probably was done online last year. And I expect that… Again, our data shows 61% of all of these journeys started online last year.

Steve:
And so if people are starting online and have spent so much time in digital, I think we talked about this in the last podcast, which was, the fact that, we now have these expectations of what’s going to happen when we start that journey online. And it often starts with just our expectation is that, hey. If you’re going to collect my data, make sure you have your cookie message and you tell me what you’re going to do with it. But I make that trade for value.

Steve:
I mean, the reason so many people probably click that banner and just ignore it is because they think there’s value in it. They think there’s value in, yeah. You’re going to track my data but deliver to me an experience that’s going to help me on my journey not the journey you’re on. You, the company is on or not some generic journey, but can you use that data in a way that is going to help me, improve my knowledge, help me understand what you’re offering is, what the sources of my pain might be and get me to a solution to the thing that’s my pain.

Steve:
And those were the top three things that we found in this study. Which was, use my data in a respectful way, help me understand the things I need to understand in order to increase my knowledge about the pain and the sources of my pain, and then get me to some solution to my pain. But it’s again, my pain, a personalized solution to my pain and not just some generic statement that might not be relevant to my case.

Tim:
Right. I mean, I know what one answer to this is going to be, but I’m going to ask anyway. If you were talking to companies that are new to this or companies that don’t have experience with it or companies that are maybe a little further, I don’t want to say further behind but earlier in their journey to progress in this way, what would you recommend they do? Where do they start? What do they have to think about?

Steve:
Well, it starts with strategy. And I don’t think it’s like, you’ve got to go hire McKinsey and spend a million dollars figuring this out, I think it starts with a strategy about personalization. Often, any business problem, many people are like, “what’s the product that I have to go look at?” And it might be important to take five minutes and think about a framework for approaching that problem. And so if your problem is, you aren’t able to engage people, personally engage people at a level that is meaningful to them, what are your options? And there are really three elements in my mind about how to approach personalization. And the first is when you know somebody, right? When that person is knowable, that’s kind of an easy use case. There are dozens of technologies, some of them are even free but some of them are low cost, some of them, you can spend a million dollars on.

Steve:
But there are lots of technologies that when you have personal data, because this person has shared it in response to a marketing campaign, because the person is either a current or past customer and you might have information on them, they’re registered, they’re logged in, whatever it is. When you have that personal information, what is the technology and the business processes that you’re going to use to address that person? And it’s important to think about business processes because personalization technology is not magic, right? It requires content to be matched with that person, and so there’s some business processes that have to occur in the background, but that’s the first thing I would think about. Is, where people are knowable and for B2B is generally very few, but where they are knowable, think about what personalization technology you’re going to use to address those folks.

Tim:
Got it.

Steve:
The second area, and especially for B2B is, because so few of those people are knowable, the second piece of your strategy should be, where I can discern some additional data about the individual, how do I address them? And this usually means account-based marketing. And again, just as a caution, I probably say this more often, account-based marketing is not a technology, it is a business strategy, right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
It is a business strategy that says, if I can’t know the person, but I might be able to discern something about the company, perhaps understand their industry what information am I going to share with that person so then I can get them to engage in the marketing and engage in sales? And there are technologies that allow you to do that. That’s the second piece. Is, if you can execute account-based marketing business strategy, get a technology that allows you then to use digital, to help further that strategy. And that’s technologies that look at the data stream and can identify, this person is from this physical location, associated with this company, that’s in this industry, now let me serve them some content that’s very specific to pains in that industry and of course the solutions to that pain.

Tim:
Yep.

Steve:
And then the final area is all the rest. Because when you look at the data, very small portion, low single digits, as a percentage of your total visitors are personal identifiable. Maybe another 10, 20% are identifiable by company slash industry, that still leaves 80%, 70% of visitors who are unidentifiable. And the question for you then is, what do you do then? And of course, I’m not going to make any additional shameless plugs for our GuideBox technology. But we have a technology that does look at anonymous, visitor data behavior to try to figure out what’s going on there. And so what other things can you get from your data stream and then what business processes are you going to use in addition to the technology to help engage those folks and progress them along their journey?

Tim:
That makes sense. And not to revisit last week’s episode or should be last week, two weeks ago episode in gross detail. But I mean, obviously everything we started this conversation talking about. We only expect those trends to accelerate. When you talk about the number of people who you can identify, particularly with more people working at home, particularly with more people connecting through their own setup with people on mobile, with browser changes, with regulatory changes and the like.

Steve:
Right.

Tim:
The number of people who you cannot identify. The folks listening to this should only expect that number who you cannot identify to grow. I wanted to make sure I didn’t do too many negatives there. That was…

Steve:
Yeah. No. I think that’s exactly right. I mean, this problem is only going to become more acute. I think part of the way companies will address this, is to up their first party data game. In the past, the easy way to solve this problem was just to go out and buy some data source that-

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
That was a big library of data. And of course, regulatory changes as well are going to limit the availability of that information over time. And the browser changes, this death of cookies future is going to limit the ability of, even if you could get that data for it to be meaningful, because of course cookies are the way you connect people. And while this is I think the alarm system is sounding most loudly in the ad space so if you’re an ad tech or you’re a big buyer of ads, that’s the place that I think the most immediate pain is going to be felt.

Steve:
But if you look at them downstream, once you get people on your site right? How do you identify them? How do you track this person was here on Tuesday, now they’re back here on Thursday, how do you track that? And it’s through the browser technologies that relies upon cookies. And so I think we’re very… Well, again, the most acute pain, the closest to the cashflow pain is now in the ad business. Marketers are beginning to realize that yeah. This has some very real implications. And so refocusing our efforts on gathering first party data, I think is an important part of any strategy because where you do have the ability to engage somebody and get them to give you your information as a trade for value maybe for a white paper or that sort of thing, you bet. Get that and keep it, because over time, this third-party data or lack of third-party data is going to become a big problem.

Tim:
No. Makes perfect sense. Well, and I think you came up with the title of the episode today. From a certain perspective, and you said, ABM is not a technology, it’s a business strategy, right? I mean, it’s this whole idea of what I love about what you were just talking about is, it is very often and let’s face it, we make it a piece of our tech. We like when people look for tools. But too often, what people do when they have a problem is they go well, what’s a tool that can solve this for me rather than saying, what is the strategy? And then saying, what are the tools that I need to enable that strategy.

Steve:
Yeah.

Tim:
We want you to get to the part where you say, hey. What’s the tool?

Steve:
Yeah. You bet. Yeah. No. Absolutely. And I mean, that’s one of the reasons we titled our report Website Engagement, right? The challenge is about Website Engagement. And we didn’t say the best personalization strategy, it’s just like, because you really have to go back to the source and know what is the source of the business problem and then what is the business strategy that is going to solve it? And the technology is the tool, right? It’s the thing that helps you then achieve the business strategy. Because again, everybody’s digital, right? Majority of our interactions right now are digital but yeah. You really do have to start with that business strategy. And again, it doesn’t have to be some grand thought. I just outlined, here’s three ways you should be thinking about-

Tim:
Of course.

Steve:
Maybe instead of strategy, frameworks, right? Just create a framework, right? That’s going to allow you to approach the problem and that’s how you get started. But have the framework, don’t have the, I need a personalization technology, I’d love to sell you one but at the same time, what is your pain? Where is your pain? Because if I sell you something that doesn’t solve the pain, that doesn’t help you progress your business, neither of us are going to be very happy.

Tim:
Right. So the key takeaway, it sounds like for this episode is, make sure you use the right framework and then buy GuideBox.

Steve:
That’s exactly right. And then send me your money. Yeah. No. Absolutely. And this rounds out I think our Website Engagement Report Discussion. And we started back at the beginning of this discussion, just talking about, some of the broader things that are happening around data privacy, around this acceleration of digital we talked a little bit more about that today and how are the changes over the past year going to stick? And I don’t think anybody can, it will be a fool’s errand to try to say, 30% of the change is going to stick. We know some portion of it

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
Going to change, right? Stick. And I think your point is a really good one. The one you made earlier, which is if I told you that your business was going to shift in a certain direction by 10%, you’d pay attention right? We could quibble on whether it’s 5%, 10% or 50%, but it’s going to shift and it’s a shift that’s already been occurring and if you were behind the earlier portion of this shift, I think not only are we going to see that 10% or whatever the number is but that’s going to accelerate, right? Because change begets change. It’s just not like change occurs and then it stops. And I think as the people who do business with us expect these more personalized experiences, more engaging experiences, they’re just going to expect more, right?

Steve:
Amazon didn’t mail books and then stop, right? They mailed books and then they just marching through the world really doing much better at almost every product category than anybody else and the reason is because the expectations of their customers shifted and the expectations of their customers accelerated and they matched it and they’re winning. And that’s I think a lesson for all of us, right? How are we going to take advantage of this shift and how are we going to use the acceleration of that change in order to win in the marketplace?

Tim:
Sounds like a perfect place to leave it, Steve. Before we wrap up, I do want to remind people, we will put a link to the report that we’ve referenced a couple of times a year in the show notes but you can go there directly by going to https://SoloSegment.com/website-engagement. Again, that’s https://SoloSegment.com/website-engagement. With that, Steve, any last words of wisdom?

Steve:
No. I think all the wisdom is drained out. Thanks very much Tim.

Tim:
Thank you very much Steve. Great talking with you and we’ll talk to you next time.

Steve:
Take care.

Website Engagement in a Changed World: SoloSegment SearchChat Podcast (2.1)

In the first episode of SoloSegment SearchChat’s second season, hosts Tim Peter and SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur look at our new report, B2B Website Engagement in a Changed World. Tim and Steve explore the stats that show how important digital has become for B2B companies during — and following — the pandemic. And Steve explains how B2B enterprises can use their own data to improve customer experience and create positive outcomes for their website visitors.

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.

SoloSegment SearchChat Season 2 Episode 1 – Transcript

Tim Peter: [00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to SoloSegment SearchChat. I’m Tim Peter. In this episode of SoloSegment SearchChat, SoloSegment CEO, Steve Zakur and I take a look at the new SoloSegment website engagement report with a focus on how you can use personalization and content recommendations to improve engagement for your website visitors.

We dive into the stats that show how B2B buyers use your website to learn more about your products and services and how you can use content personalization to improve the experience that they have. All that more on the latest SoloSegment SearchChat, coming at you right about now.

Steve, how are you?

Steve Zakur: [00:01:00] I’m doing really well, Tim. How’s it going to your world?

Tim Peter: [00:01:03] It is a little slice of heaven as always

Steve Zakur: [00:01:07] A light at the end of the tunnel on COVID means we’ll be out of the jails we’ve been in soon.

Tim Peter: [00:01:13] I am telling you, , I think our last episode with the final episode of season one, this is season two of SearchChat for joining us.

But I think our last episode of season one was right before the world shut down. And yeah, obviously that played a role in why season one…

Steve Zakur: [00:01:33] It was a good day ending point as we rebirth re rebirth in our rebirth. Right. As he burst. Yeah. Burst.

Tim Peter: [00:01:40] I like it. Well, welcome to season two and , we’re back. I’m glad to be chatting with you once again. I think we’ve got a lot of cool stuff to talk about over the over the next, , handful of weeks and months and the like yeah. And , Steve, you and I were talking before the show about this new research report it’s almost like we just put together about website engagement in a changed world, and we’ll give people the URL for that later. It will be in the show notes of course, but, , there were some really fascinating findings in the report that I think are going to be really relevant to the folks listening. So, , what, what, when you look at the report, like what jumped out at you as, wow. That’s, that’s crazy. And people need to know.

Steve Zakur: [00:02:22] Well, I, , I think when you look at the context of this report, right, , we’ve been through this year of COVID , we certainly have seen in our business as providers of, , digital marketing technologies, right. We have seen an acceleration of, of company’s appetite for that digital transformation.

I mean, there are, , for better, for worse, there were a lot of laggards out there that, , weren’t making the shift, were relying upon kind of human resources, if you will, to drive their businesses. And COVID kind of forced them to think about how people work in different ways, of course, but also how does digital factor more into their day to day?

So I think one of the new things we discovered was shift to digital is accelerating. But also what we found out was how much, some of the fundamental truths have not changed, right. That, , , people expect. And I think the figure was 80%, right? People in their B2B experiences in their professional lives expect the same kind of customized experiences that they want in their personal lives. And so that’s actually a fundamental truth that why the number might have increased. Really hasn’t changed all that much.

Tim Peter: [00:03:31] Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, if you think about it, , one of the big myths of B2C versus B2B, and it’s not that there’s no truth. It’s to what I’m about to say rather.

But it’s this idea that, , people think when you’re selling to a business that it’s completely different from anything else. And in fact, you’re still selling to a human being, right. I mean, obviously that human being is part of a buying process. Obviously there are more human beings involved or that they have to jump through various, hoops to make that happen.

Steve Zakur: [00:04:02] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and you have to engage that person , I’ve done B2B selling for many years in many different contexts. And one of the numbers that did surprise me was, , like, most B2B purchase decisions require a six to 10:00 people. So right now I knew it was a lot, I didn’t know it was 6-10.

But , that’s what the research shows that there’s a lot of, , in addition to the person, who’s the decision maker, right? There are a lot of influencers and certainly you’re dealing with procurement and finance and all these other organizations. But , what’s interesting about that is as we think about personalized experiences, , in the consumer context, it’s. Well, what does Tim want? And what’s Tim’s relationship with, and what’s his context and what is his desire, right. And now you’re actually having to address many different contexts, many different goals.

And, , I just think about like two basic ones, right. , maybe the, the business person, right? The person who has decision making authority , they want increased engagement on the website. They want more conversions. They want more revenue. And while the person in procurement wants those things to, they also want, , a great price and lots of good value, et cetera. And so, as you’re thinking about website engagement, it’s not only that you really have to step up your personalization game to meet those expectations, but you also now have to deal with, , what we in marketing called many different personas.

And as if that first task wasn’t hard enough, right? How do you engage people on your website? Now you have to engage multiple personas for the same kind of deal, same transmit.

Tim Peter: [00:05:38] Well, and especially depending on, as you said, what they care about, but also the content they engage with. I think the other thing that was interesting about that stat that you just talked about, about six to 10 different decision-makers is that, , the research shows that each one is independently making use of a half dozen pieces of content or more as part of that process. Right? Some of those, there may be some overlap, but on lots of those there aren’t. So if somebody is coming and looking at your product or coming and looking at your service, they may be looking at, , multiple pieces of content about the same thing, but how do how to show the right one to the right, exactly where they are.
And I think that’s something that’s. , always, always a tough thing to do. Now you talk about this a lot that obviously a solution that people look at when trying to solve for this problem. Is ABM, right. And account based marketing and account based marketing has a really cool tool and a really useful tool, but it’s got its limitations from time to time, , can you, can you talk about that a little bit?

Steve Zakur: [00:06:44] Yeah. , the, when, when you think about the journey that marketing operations or marketing managers go on to. Figure out what technology is now going to help them meet this expectation. , they often start with either technology they already have because a lot of systems have some sort of personalization technology built in, or maybe they go buy personalization technology.

And it also, it starts with, let me get this personalization technology and where I have some personal data. I can use that to fuel the engine and they run into the harsh reality. That is. And we’ve looked at this data for our customers, , three to 5% of website visitors to B2B websites are identifiable and that’s for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes it’s because the buying cycles are long, cookies expire. So you can’t kind of re-identify the person when they return. I think it’s largely due to many folks who lurk in the dark. , there’s kind of a disincentive to raise your hand and identify yourself, right? Cause that you’re going to get hammered by the emails and the phone calls. everything else. Because

Tim Peter: [00:07:49] Wait, you mean B2B sales people…?

Steve Zakur: [00:07:51] I have been guilty of this myself. I must admit. I was a matter of fact, I read this morning and I specifically put in the CRM, do not contact for four days. Cause I know, , I need this person, , first this person doesn’t want me to go hunt them down after 30 seconds after they hit the submit button.
But also, I mean, it’s not good sales process. Right. They need to, , internalize and think about the thing that they’re looking at. So we’ll let them do that. But, but yeah, so there’s that disincentive, right? , when do you want Steve calling you? And the reality is you want sales people, you wanna engage with them much later in the process after you have kind of considered it, et cetera.
Not to say, though, that it’s important or it could be meaningful for both the company and the individual to get engaged perhaps earlier than they’re comfortable with and not having the personal information on 95, 97% of your visitors. That really is where ABM came in. , it was this kind of reality in the marketplace that there was this gap that something’s gotta be done for all these people lurking in the darkness.

And that’s where you saw account-based marketing technologies emerge now account based marketing. Isn’t new, right. We’ve been doing account-based marketing since the fifties. Right. , for 70 years. Yeah. But , recently there, yeah. There has been this gap and these technologies, , what they do of course is they look at the data stream on the website and they try to figure out what the physical location is of the person. And if you can determine the physical location and that physical location happens to be associated with a company, know you connect those two dots and you say, I’m going to start. Yeah. , sending this visitor messages about that are specific to that account, or alternatively, maybe specific to the industry that, that person.

And so account based marketing begins to fill, , that 95%. Whole in, in your knowledge about visitors and we’ve found, , again, based upon data that our customers have shared with us about 15 to 20% of the, of the website, visitors are addressable by by ABM technologies. But that’s a pre COVID number.

And they all said, , because it’s, location-based, , I’m currently sitting at my home. And so you don’t know about my, my home in Connecticut is not associated with solo segment. And so it would be hard for me to be addressed by these technologies. And these companies saw a significant dip in the utility of that technology, although it’s coming back and it’s coming back pretty fast as people of course move back into the office.

Tim Peter: [00:10:16] Sure, sure. Which, which we know. We know many people are gonna end up back in the office. We know many people are going to end up working from home. We know many people are going to be in a hybrid scenario. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s not, , I think, I think, and I’m sure you’re going to talk about this in a moment, but I think it’s the situation where , you can’t be prepared for the either or of, oh, there’s going to be people who work in the office a hundred percent of time, or, oh, there’s going to be people who work from home a hundred percent of the time. It’s going to be a bit of an and , but it doesn’t, it doesn’t fill that entire gap that you’re talking about.

Steve Zakur: [00:10:50] Absolutely. And, and, , we, we kind of figure on average, it’s about 85% of those visitors who really are truly anonymous and that’s going to be. what you’ve got to crack the code on is how do you engage those 85?

Tim Peter: [00:11:03] And that’s for all of those reasons, right? It’s not just work from home. It’s not just cookies.
It’s not just, ad blockers or things along those lines. It’s all of this added together?

Steve Zakur: [00:11:12] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, , you mentioned ad-blockers, that’s a, that’s a great point. , we often think about like the the exogenous factors within the industry or within the software industry that is or within the regulatory environment as being kind of the villains in our ability to engage.
But part of it, I mean, , all that stuff right. Is based upon , kind of the desires of the humans, right? The people, people don’t want their privacy trampled on, don’t want their data trampled on. And so , not only do you see the challenges in the regulatory and software industry, but you also see what’s happening, but the people are doing right.

They’re using ad blockers as a perfect example. , people are learning how to delete their cookies. Our study shows that almost 50% of people are deleting cookies every 30 days in their browsers, I was like, whoa. , that used to be something nobody knew how to do. And now. Apparently half the people are doing it.
So it’s those sorts of things that are going to impact the ability to address those.

Tim Peter: [00:12:15] Right. By the way, I, I, I feel bad. , comedy is always timing and the timing on this is completely lost, but, , I, I admit I missed a part of that because I was looking up the word exogenous. But I get what you mean, right? The external value.

Steve Zakur: [00:12:30] I used the big word. I’m sorry.

Tim Peter: [00:12:33] I feel like we’re going to have the SAT question.

Steve Zakur: [00:12:36] They’re coming up to this.

Tim Peter: [00:12:41] Perfect. Perfect. All right. So. So, , you kind of set up the scenario where you’ve got for all kinds of reasons, internal reasons, external reasons, exogenous reasons that, , people, people don’t know, marketers don’t know who the folks are on their, their website. And it really poses the question of how can organizations personalize the website experience when they don’t know who the person is 85% of the time.

Steve Zakur: [00:13:12] I mean, that is the big question. And , it is at its heart part of , a question we pose and it’s very interesting. Several folks have mentioned this to us. It’s this, , personalization, privacy kind of paradox, , can these two things coexist together and , at the heart of it, , it’s getting people to raise their hands, getting people to say I’m ready to engage.

And so there’s no trick. There’s no trick. What you have to do is to present kind of the compelling case that the pain that they’re feeling can be solved with the solution that you’re providing. And I think the quicker and the more compelling and the more compelling way you can do that, of course, you’re going to make those conversions.
And one of the great challenges, especially in large enterprise companies, so if you have tens or hundreds of thousands of pieces of content, it is likely you have the right piece of content to convince every visitor. Right.

Tim Peter: [00:14:11] Right.

Steve Zakur: [00:14:12] So it’s not a content problem generally. It’s not a content problem. The problem is it’s a findability problem.
Right. So how do you connect this person with the right content? Now, if you have an awesome search engine that’s one way you can do it, right. They can ask the question that I am searching for this thing. Please present it to me. , that is a place where a lot of companies honestly do not invest a dime.

Right. They see, they see searches cost. They think of search as Google and they don’t understand the value prop of, , searchers are generally your best opportunities, right? 87% more likely to convert something like at least 43% more likely to buy and sometimes much more than that. And so search is the first place you can make your content more find-able because again, I bet you have the answer on your website now

Tim Peter: [00:15:06] Right. Yeah, of course.

Steve Zakur: [00:15:07] So. Set aside search, everybody’s navigating your website. , now the question is, how do you in real time figure out, oh, well this, I might not know it’s Tim, but based upon the content that Tim is looking at how do I figure out what additional content might help him progress on his journey and move along?
I mean, for years we’ve done up by, we marketers have done. , related product links on websites, on pages and those sorts of things. So it is possible to do that manually to have every content owner, , tag their content in a way that that allows , maybe some sort of related products thing to guide people along.

Tim Peter: [00:15:50] Sure. Of course.

Steve Zakur: [00:15:51] But the reality is. People do that very poorly. It was there was one study that was done recently, actually, not recently, it’s now about five years old, but it but it shows that, , people who tag content disagree with themselves about 30% of the time. So not necessarily the right way.

Tim Peter: [00:16:09] That’s like within a two week period, right? I mean, it’s not, it’s not like they’re tagging this content and really they’re coming back to a year later it’s like, they’re tagging the content. They’re coming back to it a couple of weeks later and going, I would tag it like this, and it’s not the same as what they’ve done.

Steve Zakur: [00:16:22] Correct.

Tim Peter: [00:16:22] And that’s just human nature. I mean, we, we’re not card catalogs.

Steve Zakur: [00:16:28] Correct.

Tim Peter: [00:16:28] We’re not computers. It’s not how we think.

Steve Zakur: [00:16:31] So, , what’s left. So what’s left is well, there’s a lot of data, right, right now. And , 10 years ago, it was really hard to discern what that data means and it’s getting easier.

And , when we think about how do you help people with this findability problem that is to say, how do you help visitors on your website find the right content. Well, we’re really thinking about is, is, , three sets of data, right? What is the intent of them? And, , when somebody is looking at a piece of content, they might not be able to tell you what their specific intent was when you can kind of discern what, what people who look at this page as in general, what their intent is, because you can look at the reasons people have come to that in the past. And , some of that’s done by your search engine, right? Your search engine sends people to pages, but also gives you some insight into why people are on those pages.

And so, , we think of, if you can harvest this intent data that exists on your website, you don’t need a third party for this, but if you can look at this intent data on your website, that’s one thing that can clue you into, , the why of the, why they’re there.
And the second thing we look at of course, is the content itself. , there are, , you don’t have to rely upon the people, to the content owners to tag the content on any longer, because today there are so many technologies that can essentially read , especially electronic content can read it very effectively and , you can do topical analysis on it.

You can do industry analysis, a lot of different things you can imagine you could do with that content. Again, give you some sense of why are people on this website and now what are they looking at? What are they interested in? And and then the final piece of the, the equation is actually the visits themselves of all the people over time, because , for anybody who’s ever looked at, , reports about paths through websites, there are as many paths through websites as there are people on the website. Right,

Tim Peter: [00:18:22] Right..

Steve Zakur: [00:18:22] Yeah. They’re all kind of, , snowflake unique animals. But of course there are patterns in that data and there are patterns in that data, especially when you look at all your conversion moments. And then for large enterprise B2B, it’s primarily things like download the white paper, look at the case, study, contact forms, those sorts of things. But , there are patterns in the journeys that lead to that point. And if you can discern somebody on that journey early enough, Well, now you have an , an opportunity to influence that journey, perhaps intercept them before they abandon and move them along.

Because the goal of course is to help people discover that content that demonstrates that you are the solution to their problem, so that instead of raising their hand in a month or two months or their second visit, third visit fourth of the fifth visit that you get them to raise their hand. Now. And share their information so that you can put them now, move them into that bucket, which is odd this is a personal person with personal information that we can now actually engage and market to.

Tim Peter: [00:19:29] No, that’s cool. That’s cool. So, Steve, I’m gonna set you up here to do a little commercial. How would one do it?

Steve Zakur: [00:19:35] How would that do that Tim? Well, some of our customers do that with our products actually the, all of our customers do that with our products.

So So, , I talked about search and navigation modalities, and I talked about them because you really do have to consider both. Now. I think it’s, it’s kind of most common for us as marketers to think about. , the navigator on the website, the person who lands on a page and how do they move along and engage with the content and get to the next thing.

Right? We talk about these visitor journeys and personas and those sorts of things. And that’s what we’re trying to do with our guide box product is exactly that right? To see, to look at the data stream. Some of the data I talked about earlier to look at those data streams. And even though we don’t know anything about the person themselves, Look at the behaviors and through the understanding of those behaviors and of behaviors that lead to conversions, guide people to those positive outcomes.

And by the way, it’s not only positive outcomes for the company, right. It’s positive outcomes for them because they have pain and they need to be it to be solved.

Tim Peter: [00:20:36] Right. I mean, one of the reasons we personalize is to actually create better experiences for customers. Yes. We want to create better experiences for customers because they had lots of good things happen.

Like they buy from us and they tell their friends and their family and their fans and followers all about doing all that kind of stuff. But it doesn’t happen if they don’t have a good experience at the first place, if they don’t actually accomplish what they’re trying. So that makes total sense.

Steve Zakur: [00:20:59] Absolutely.

And , I talked about search earlier and this is kind of the stepchild that I think a lot of folks need to focus on. We have a product called SearchBox and , it helps make search better, no matter what search engine you’re using, because a lot of the problems with search are not the search engine.

It’s not the people who are managing the search engine. It’s not the content, right. It is actually feedback from customers, from users, from visitors on the website. About their experience. And if you look at the data streams, both of what’s happening in search and what happens after a search, you can gain a lot of insight into what makes search successful.

And by using that data using that data, feeding that data back into your search engine, you can automatically make search better. And I think I mentioned this a little bit earlier. I mean, searchers are more likely to do business with you. Because if you think about it, they’ve been frustrated by they’re looking at this site. They can’t find something. I mean, if you go to that search bar, instead of going back to Google, that means you’re a dedicated, committed individual. And so there’s a lot of value in, in making search better. And so that’s why we encourage folks, , If you don’t need our SearchBox product, you think you can do better on your own.

Absolutely. Go for it. Make your search engine better because there is gold in those searchers and searchers. And if they’re frustrated , they’re going to go away and now your competitors get shot at right.

Tim Peter: [00:22:23] Right. Makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. Steve that’s great stuff. I mean, any last thoughts you want to leave folks with, I’m just looking at the time, it’s time to wrap up.

Steve Zakur: [00:22:34] Yeah. , I think it’s, I think that there, , kind of the big thought. For, , now that we’re in season two and kind of returning to this thought of engagement, we certainly have to reflect upon, , what’s gone on in the past year, as far as the business environment, especially the digital business environment and , I’m going on my first business trip a Monday.

So I’ll be like in Chicago for three days, it’s going to be kind of strange. Yeah. But But, , we are going to be getting back to it and we’re going to be getting back on planes and seeing people and back into the office. But I do think that, , fundamentally, , digital is here to stay.

I think while the zoom calls will go down , video is going to be an important part of how we communicate and. , I think websites, we all thought they were important before. But I think this notion of digital engagement is going to be increasingly important. And by the way, we see it in our numbers. Right. We see, , the boards that we’re doing with our clients is increasing. So, , this is, this is the big thought it’s if you were behind before and you haven’t already started to accelerate your digital transformation , you at least have to get ahead of your peers in the industry, because I think people have religion on this and they’re moving and and the laggards are no longer going to have the ability to kind of make it up with humans. I think that digital is definitely something that folks have to address.

Tim Peter: [00:23:57] Sounds like a perfect place to wrap up. I would like to say just another quick commercial, , if anybody wants to learn more about website engagement in a changed world and some of the stats that Steve has been referencing today, what I encourage you to check out SoloSegment’s new report, “Website engagement in a changed world,” looking at how handy that is, which you can find at SoloSegment.com/website-engagement. And we’ll post a link to that in the show notes again, that is SoloSegment.com/website-engagement.

Steve, thank you as always for great discussion. I’ll look forward to catching up with you here on SearchChat next time. Have a great rest of the day.

Steve Zakur: [00:24:35] Thanks. You too, Tim.

Tim Peter: [00:24:46] SearchChat is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company. Make your search better and learn more at SoloSegment.com.

If you liked the show, please go ahead and subscribe to us. You can find our episodes SoloSegment.com/podcast or on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher radio, Google podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. You can also find us on Facebook at facebook.com/SoloSegment. On Twitter using the Twitter handle @SoloSegment. Or you can drop us an email at info@SoloSegment.com. Again, that’s info@SoloSegment.com. With that, my name is Tim Peter. I hope you have a great rest of the week and we’ll look forward to talking with you next time on SearchChat. Take care, everybody. .

The Future of B2B Website Engagement is Here

Any great salesperson knows that the key to capitalizing on leads — regardless of industry — is delivering the right message or offer, to the right person, at the right time. After all, it’s not enough to simply attract visitors to your website if they aren’t sticking around to discover what your company has to offer or making a purchase. B2B businesses, specifically, should consider that 61% of B2B transactions start online and 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed primarily online before the buyer even reaches out to sales. An engaging website is an efficient website; one that will convert leads and keep customers coming back for more.

Every moment must be relevant

In an age where convenience and relevancy reign supreme, B2C and B2B businesses must rise to the occasion and offer their clientele an increasingly tailored experience along their buying journey. Every moment a client spends on a website should be relevant, offering them the information they need to encourage them along the path to purchase. Website studies across both B2B and B2C audiences show that a single bad experience on a website makes users 88% less likely to visit the website again and 75% of user judgment about a business’s credibility is based on their website design. A well-designed website user experience could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%.

That’s what personalization can deliver for your business., And personalizing experiences is the hallmark of great marketing. The question isn’t why you should do this; rather, it’s how? How can businesses strike an effective balance between personalization and user privacy?

But relevance and privacy often conflict with one another

This question, in particular, has been the catalyst to a great deal of transformation over the past few years. While the demand for personalization has remained on an upward trajectory, public concern regarding user privacy has followed suit closely behind. Of course, it’s easy to understand why; personalization requires data, and data requires users to share their personal information with brands. Organizations want to get to know their current and prospective customers. But, in the realm of business and technology, this can be a frightening concept. Is user data protected? Is it being misused? Are businesses stepping through the front door without being invited in? This is the ‘privacy paradox’ at work. Customers crave an experience informed by personal data, but they aren’t comfortable with the idea of their data changing hands across the internet.

To this effect, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was established in 2018, which laid new ground rules for businesses relying on personal data to inform their user experience. Gone were the days of website cookies and traditional data collection methods. Instead, businesses had to shift in a new direction: anonymous personalization.

What is the future of B2B website engagement?

At first glance, this might sound like an oxymoron. How can personalization and anonymity exist simultaneously? Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) makes this possible, and this advancement is especially integral for B2B businesses hoping to optimize their website to be more relevant and engaging to prospective leads. Our report shows, after all, that 45% of B2B customers are browsing anonymously as they research potential vendors and partners, which prevents those providers from gaining direct input from prospective customers, such as a name or an email address.

Harnessing the power of AI, organizations can finally drive engagement and meet the expectations of their audience long before they share their personal information. AI-powered website engagement technology can use anonymous information (such as behavioral data)) to identify visitor intent, visitor goals, and more. Armed with this information, companies can model visitor behavior to automatically improve their website customer experience and guide visitors to content that converts.

And this engagement matters. B2B organizations using anonymous, behavior-based website personalization drive between 5-15% increase in revenue and 10-30% increase in marketing-spend efficiency.

Learn more about the future of B2B website engagement

With the help of next-generation technology powered by AI, organizations can finally drive engagement and more productive leads in a way that directly benefits the bottom line and the customer experience by providing website visitors with exactly what they need, before they know they need it.

There is simply no denying it – anonymous personalization is the future of optimizing the B2B website experience to drive more engagement, and sales. Isn’t it time your website functioned as your company’s best salesperson and customer service representative?

If the answer is yes… what are you waiting for? Download SoloSegment’s latest industry report: Website Engagement in a Changed World and discover the benefits of anonymous personalization for your business.

Getting more from your ABM strategy with website personalization

One of the great challenges for website owners is understanding who comes to their website. Knowing something about the person allows you to deliver the right content to the right person at just the right moment to earn a conversion.

Traditionally, companies have determined visitor identity using a combination of first-party and third-party data. However, even with abundant data sources marketers — especially B2B marketers — are still unable to identify many users. In response, many B2B marketers have turned to an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy and put in place supporting technology to help increase their ability to address visitors. But even ABM leaves many visitors unidentifiable. Here’s the good news: You already have data that can make your ABM strategy more effective.

We’re hosting a webinar on February 4th on how you can make your ABM strategy more effective by combining it with website personalization — we’ll be sure to share the details as soon as we have them. But, keep reading if you want to know what you can do to improve your ABM strategy today.

The Data Challenge

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you probably understand the challenge of being able to identify your website visitors. When you know more about your visitor you can create more engaging experiences. More engagement generally yields better business outcomes.

Arguably, B2C companies have it the easiest when it comes to identifying visitors. There are lots of incentives for visitors to share their information with B2B companies. Also, there is a very mature data ecosystem in the B2C world. For decades, aggregators have made it their business to buy and sell information about individuals. Any gaps in first-party knowledge can be filled in with third-party data. It’s not uncommon for more than 50% of B2C website visitors to be addressable in some manner by marketers.

For B2B companies it’s a bit trickier. Visitors have been well trained by aggressive sales reps and endless email nurture campaigns to limit the information they share. Our experience has been that B2B websites are only able to reliably identify 5% or less of their visitors. So what can marketers do about the other 95%?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) Helps Close The Gap

Clever technology companies have figured out that it is sometimes possible to identify a visitor’s company affiliation. They do this by using the IP address of the visitor to attempt to determine the visitor’s company. But this isn’t the end of the data journey.

The most sophisticated of these technologies then combine that IP data with third-party data to provide a more informed view of the visitor. This includes all manner of firmographics and other predictions about what the IP address might reveal.

But ABM Alone Isn’t Enough

Technology only represents half of a successful ABM strategy. Coupled with visitor identity a business needs to know how to address that population. That’s where a robust content marketing strategy that determines the right messages you need to deliver to which company, industry, and individual puts your ABM platform’s data to work.

And even then, ABM technologies have additional challenges. For instance, if you’re selling to small accounts you may not be able to identify the company because they may use shared IP addresses with other entities.

Large accounts have other problems. Even though you can often identify the company, you’re still taking a guess about the interests, motivations, and role of the visitor. In practice, you must deliver different messages to a product manager than you would to the purchasing manager.

And even with large accounts, with many folks now working from home, the IP address of a large company visitor may have the same challenges as the IP address for small companies. One customer told us that their ABM technology now identifies less than 5% of website visitors down from 20% a year ago.

So what does this mean for companies that are running an ABM strategy? Well, it means you have to go deeper.

Getting More from your ABM Strategy

While it would be great if you could identify more of your visitors, the reality is that many will be unidentifiable and unaddressable. What you really need is an integrated ADM and website personalization strategy that embraces this reality.

Using analytics and AI — a bit of natural language processing and machine learning — three data sets are available to you that can help you predict what a visitor is trying to achieve. And all without having to know anything about the individual. Even better, you also don’t need to create new content. The patterns found in these data sets allow you to get more value from the content you already have. Those three data sets are: Intent, Content and Context.

  • Intent – Visitors type all sort of things in the search box on your website. If you look at the behavioral data after a search is completed, you’ll be able to discern success patterns associated with keywords and keyword phrases.
  • Content – Understanding the meaning of the content itself allows you to programmatically associate content with a visitor at the right moment. But often meta data about content is either inconsistent or incomplete (or both). Using Natural Language Processing to understand things like topic and industry give you a common content language. Machine learning allows you to apply that language at scale to all content.
  • Journey Context – If you aggregate all the visitor journey data on your website you machine learning algorithms are very good at associating visitor behavior with goal achievement. Those models can then monitor visitor behavior and look for signals that visitors are ready to receive content that leads them to conversion.

These are the capabilities that we’ve built into our SoloSegment GuideBox™ software. No matter how much you know about a visitor, SoloSegment GuideBox™ allows you to make intelligent content recommendations that progress journeys in the right direction… towards conversions

Learn more at our Free ABM Webinar

On Thursday, February 4th at 2 pm ET, SoloSegment will host a webinar with The Conference Board titled Getting more from your ABM strategy: Increase lead quality by improving ABM and website personalization. Mark your calendars, subscribe to the blog, and we’ll share more information as soon as it’s available.

You may also want to check out our new ebook that reveals the 6 truths about personalization that every B2B must know here.

Why Privacy-First Martech Matters

Cloudflare announced this week that they were introducing a new, free privacy-first analytics tool, using data from their CDN, but eliminating any personally-identifiable information (PII) commonly collected in competing tools. SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur talks about why privacy-first martech is the right way to go for your business:

Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript of SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur’s comments on Cloudflare’s anonymous analytics tool and privacy-first martech for you: 

CloudFlare, a leading cybersecurity and content distribution network, announced yesterday they were launching a new free service called CloudFlare Web Analytics. And the most distinctive feature of this tool is that it doesn’t collect personal information. So this is not some secret play by CloudFlare to, you know, to hoover up all this personal information about your visitors. It truly is a privacy-first [marketing] technology.

My name is Steve Zakur CEO of SoloSegment. For many years, we have had this pact with Google in using their analytics tool. And that pact was they’ll give us an awesome, full featured analytics tool for free. And we have to then send them all the data about our visitors. And so, you know, that worked out pretty well for us but not so well for our visitors, our prospects, our customers who were getting their information sent over to Google. 

And increasingly we’ve seen moves by industry. Apple has been a real leader in this area with ITP and some other areas, other things, but also regulators, GDPR, CCPA, all those sorts of regulations in moving to protect the privacy of individuals. And I think we’re going to see more and more of these privacy first tools. In fact, SoloSegment has focused on this right from the beginning. We have a thesis that there is plenty of information out there about the behavior of website visitors, that you don’t need to know who they are in order to engage them. Whether they’re searching or whether they’re navigating on your website they give off a trail of behavioral information that allows you to help them achieve their objectives without needing to know who they are.

So, no matter what technology we’re talking about, whether it’s SoloSegment’s personalization technology, GuideBox, or web analytics by CloudFlare, look for those privacy first applications, because those are the technologies that not only allow you to achieve your goals, but to do it in a way that you can protect the personal information of your website visitors. Thanks very much. Hope you have a great week. Take care.

You can read more about how to personalize your content while protecting customer data in SoloSegment’s new ebook, The Six Personalization Truths Every B2B Marketer Needs to Know.

6 Truths B2B Marketers Must Know About Personalization

You’re a serious B2B marketer. You’ve seen the stats. You know the score. B2B customers expect personalized experiences to help them find the products and services that meet their needs. And personalization can help you drive more leads. Which is good, because “drive more leads” is what you keep hearing from your sales leaders and senior execs, especially now when your sales teams are stuck in WFH mode. As “face-to-face” has become “shelter in place,” there’s more pressure than ever for your website to drive the leads in-person events once did. 

But some critics are saying personalization is dead. And lots of companies have attempted to use personalization without seeing results. How can all of these things be true at the same time? There’s a surprisingly simple answer: 

Most personalization platforms weren’t built for B2B buyers

These platforms are excellent at helping you understand more about Alice and Bob, a married couple with 2.5 kids and a puppy who drive a crossover SUV and like to go camping. But none of those consumer attributes have any effect on Alice or Bob’s buying behaviors as execs at their respective companies. 

The mismatch between consumer-centered personalization platforms and the needs of B2B buyers represents just one of the six personalization truths every B2B marketer needs to know outlined in our latest ebook, called simply enough, “The Six Personalization Truths Every B2B Marketer Needs to Know.” 

Other truths about B2B marketing that you need to know include:

  • The key reasons your site visitors expect personalization — and how those expectations influence your technology platform needs
  • The surprising connection between site search and personalized experiences — and why most companies fall short at making that connection deliver results
  • The increasing likelihood that shifting regulations and actions by technology giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft only make it harder to close the personalization gap for B2B marketers 
  • And the plain truth that the ability to close the gap using artificial intelligence and machine learning exists today — and can work for your company more easily than you think. 

Of course, there’s one more truth that you already know: you’re facing increasing pressures from your customers and your company’s senior executives to solve their problems and deliver results. Sales wants more leads. Your customers want more relevant information. And you want to drive more revenues for your business. How can you meet all these goals? The solution may be easier than you think. 

Are you interested in learning more about how you can put personalization to work for your business? Check out the new SoloSegment ebook “The Six Personalization Truths Every B2B Marketer Needs to Know” today. And learn how you can use personalization to support B2B buyers — and your business — more easily and more effectively than you ever thought possible. Just click here to check out the ebook. And learn the solutions that can help you improve your customer experience — and business results — today.

B2B Website Personalization Doesn’t have to be difficult

For several years we’ve had evidence that high quality, B2B customer experiences are table stakes for businesses interested in growth. As we’ve discussed before, personalization is easier said than done. While content creation and IT can be significant blockers to getting the most out of your personalization efforts, the biggest impediment may be the data. Traditional personalization technology needs personal data that you’re not likely to have. This makes B2B website personalization particularly tricky.

Your customers have a preference

Amazon has trained your prospects and customers well. When they go to Amazon they easily find what they need and are magically guided to things that might help them find solutions to problems they don’t know they have. In short, the customer experience leaves them delighted.

Unfortunately for you, folks don’t have separate B2B brains. They come to your B2B website with the same expectations that they have in their retail lives. The bar is set high. And you’ve been working for a long time to try to meet this standard but your best website personalization efforts still seem to fall short. Why is that?

So why is this so hard? 

Most B2B website personalization systems are powered by three components: 

  1. the technology itself, 
  2. the content that will be served, 
  3. the data that decides what content to serve, who to serve it to, and when to serve it.

Let’s set aside the challenges of implementing IT and building content. While these can be daunting challenges, they’re within your control. You need to select technology that you know you can implement and manage and you have to line up your content teams to feed the beast. If you can’t do that, it’s on you.

Data. Now that’s the tricky part. Traditional personalization technology grew up in the retail space. Retail is awash in personal data so the opportunities to target, micro-target, and retarget are abundant because the data is abundant.

In the retail space prospects and customers are happy to hand over their data because there is a clear trade for value. Billing requires personal information. Shipping requires personal information. Customers share their information to get those benefits. And, for better or worse, that data is freely traded because tracking, for the most part, is so easy to do.

Nobody shares their personal information with B2B vendors. Conventional wisdom is that less that 2% of B2B website visitors share personal information on a website. That makes sense. If I’m a buyer for an technology hardware company, I don’t share my personal information with a component manufacturer when I go look at specifications on chips on their website. There’s rarely a compelling reason for me to share that information. Unlike retail, there’s no trade for value.

But the technology you purchased requires personal data. What to do? The answer is, of course, more technology.

The personal data workarounds that don’t work

There are plenty of vendors that have swooped in to help with the personal data problem so that your investment in B2B website personalization will pay off. These technologies have been called many things over the years but they now inhabit the “Account-Based Management” space.

It all started with “IP Sniffing” where these vendors used technical snooping to try and discern what company a visitor was coming from. That together with first party data they had captured, data stored in cookies, could give them a hint of who the person might be. Of course, many visitors don’t come back before their cookies expire so accumulating first party data can be tricky.

Purchasing third party data, largely gathered in the retail environment, is often less than satisfying. It might give you some insight into the person, but it gives you little insight into their professional lives. How do you target someone if you don’t know the most basic information about what they do for work and what they’re seeking?

In the discussions we’ve had with some of these vendors they admit that at best visitor identification happens 30% of the time. In the vast majority of cases that number is in the low teens. And with Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) that number is only going to get worse. Couple ITP with GDPR, CCPA, and a whole alphabet soup of regulation and regression to the 2% mean seems inevitable.

But if you’ve been working in the B2B website personalization space, you know all this. The data is the most frustrating part of the exercise.

The role of anonymous data in B2B Website Personalization

The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that you have a problem. And while a higher power may not be able to make your B2B website personalization better, there is a way forward.

Anonymity has traditionally been a problem for marketers that want to target people for messages that will help engage and progress them through the funnel. B2B marketers have risen to this challenge by providing lots of opportunities for folks to share their information, primarily through gated content experiences (e.g. white papers, case studies, etc.). But those efforts are often wasted. From low conversion rates to fake data there are a variety of reasons gathering first-party data yields low results.

Gated content and similar methods are a logical response to a world in which anonymity is a problem. But what if anonymity wasn’t a problem? What if you could address anonymous visitors with very specific messages? That would be powerful. Especially for the very top of funnel folks who might not see any value for giving you good information about themselves.

In the past, the problem with making any sense out of anonymous data was nearly impossible. If was all offline modeling and incorporating those models into operational technology was, at best, difficult.

Today, AI can power through all the data you collect on your website–content, visitor behavior, search–to develop models that can predict what someone is trying to accomplish and deliver content that is compelling in the moment to help them accomplish those goals.

Our customers who have deployed our search and content recommendation technologies have found increased engagement (+139%), reduced exits (down 80%), and lower bounce rates (down 12 points) by delivering highly targeted content recommendations that engage visitors before they’re able to identify the person or their role.

There is a way to get off of the personal data hamster wheel and at the same time increase engagement and progression of anonymous early funnel visitors. Utilizing the latest tools in your technology toolbox–machine learning, natural language processing, and natural language understanding–you can derive models that help your prospects achieve their goals and, ultimately, you to achieve yours.

Curious how we can help you can stop the madness and deploy effective, anonymous b2b website personalization, for your company, and for your future? Give us a call at 862-234-0365 or drop us a line. We’re here to help.

Why B2B Marketers Must Embrace AI and Personalization

“We’re in challenging times,” everyone says. That’s a fact. But here’s a question: When is that not true for B2B marketers? Sure, things are definitely tougher than usual at the moment. But, who are we kidding? You’re always hustling, in bad times and good, to either outperform the economy or beat your competition. So, let’s take a moment and talk about how you can accomplish both of those goals, in good times and bad: Artificial intelligence (AI) and personalization. And, more importantly, how you can make AI and personalization work together for your customers… and for your company.

The Core of Personalization in Marketing

If youll allow me to grossly oversimplify a complex topic for a moment, every B2B marketing plan in existence can be summed up by a similar set of steps. What every effective B2B marketer must consistently do is:

  • Uncover customer needs
  • Create offerings that address those customer needs
  • Let potential customers know those offerings exist
  • Build trust that your offering actually works
  • Work with your sales team to encourage your prospects to hand over their money in exchange for those offerings
  • Repeat

I know, easy, right? Of course I’m skipping some details; if there ever was a case where you’re allowed to say, “the Devil’s in the details,” this is the one. That’s why it’s called, “grossly oversimplifying.”

But the fact remains that everything you do as a marketer and a manager exists to help your current and potential customers achieve their goals, to create offerings tailored to what they need at the immediate moment. Fundamentally, thats all that personalization is at its core again, as long as you’re willing to grossly oversimplify it.

Why You Struggle to Deliver Personalized Experience

The problems with accomplishing this in practice and at scale blow that gross oversimplification completely out of the water. Forget what I said before. This is where you can say that “the Devil is in the details.” As our Chief Product Officer mentioned the other day, its true that both the future of marketing requires delivering personalization at scale and that a number of significant challenges exist that makes it difficult to do that. These include the following facts:

  1. While digital channels like your website, email list, and social media presence make collecting information easy at least relative to the past its tough to make sense of the sheer volume of data now available
  2. The technology necessary to handle such large volumes of data can be expensive and difficult to implement and maintain
  3. Customers are increasingly uncomfortable with letting you collect and store their personal information and tools like intelligent tracking protection (ITP) and enhanced tracking protection (ETP) exist to make it hard to do so
  4. Regulators, always willing to listen when large numbers of voters, um… people have concerns, increasingly create barriers to collecting and storing customers personal information (think GDPR/CCPA/other alphabet soup regulations)
  5. Companies frequently must create rules to address steps in the customer journey and the content that supports each of those steps
  6. Despite your best efforts, its impossible to know many visitors to your B2B website and other digital channels because you cant get their personal data or because their individual information isn’t relevant to their business purchases
  7. And, the costs associated with addressing these non-trivial challenges makes it tough for you to deliver an impressive ROI for any investments you make in personalization quickly, which is even more important in the current post-COVID environment.

Thats not “a gross oversimplification.” Its just gross.

Fortunately, we’ve put together some ideas for how to deal with these challenges in our new ebook “Six Personalization Realities B2B Marketers Need to Know Right Now.” Check it out when you have a moment.

Fact: Personally-Identifiable Information (PII) Won’t Be Around Forever

Privacy and its implications for data collection are worth diving into in a bit more detail. Privacy regulations as well as customer attitudes about privacy will require marketers to shift focus away from personally-identifiable information (PII) and towards some other source of anonymous, but still useful data. This appears inevitable.

For instance, Samuel Scott argues persuasively that personalization is this years most overhyped marketing practice,. In particular, Scott cites concerns about privacy as the biggest risks for both companies and their customers. Given the downsides of cost and legal risk associated with data breaches, those concerns seem warranted.

And, to be fair, there is a lot of hype around personalization. The European Unions General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and similar legislation didn’t come from nowhere; many jurisdictions clearly take the hype seriously.

You also want to consider how little personal information about B2B buyers is even relevant to your selling process. Does the fact that your buyer is “42 years old, drives a midsize crossover SUV, and has affinity for dining and travel” help you progress them towards a purchase of your products or services? I didn’t think so.

What some forward-thinking marketers are moving towards and I believe must move towards is using anonymous behavioral data instead of PII. Various techniques exist that allow you to offer personalized experiences without PII and still drive improved business results. My expectation and to be 100% honest, a big reason we founded a company that does this is that successful B2B marketers will increasingly seek out options that provide the benefits of personalization without the regulatory or brand risk associated with capturing and storing vast amounts of PII about their customers. But to do that well, you’ve got to add artificial intelligence into the mix.

The Role of AI in Personalization

Knowing how to personalize without PII isn’t easy. It requires a fair bit of data about your customers’ on-site behaviors, about your content, about what makes customers click and connect, and how to tie all that information together in real-time. That’s where your ability to use AI in your personalization efforts matters. As a friend of mine likes to say, “AI makes big data… little.” Artificial intelligence and machine learning must play a key role in helping you make sense of the data you’re gathering so that you can put your oversimplified marketing plan into action. Or, even better, the real-world, results-oriented, complex marketing plan that you actually put together.

AI-powered personalization tools can help you make sense of the continual streams of data the torrent of data that you collect. A well-designed AI-powered personalization platform can be run as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to minimize implementation costs and complexity. And, if done really well, personalization driven by artificial intelligence would use customer behaviors not increasingly regulated, increasingly unavailable personally-identifiable information to connect customers with the content they need. Hmm… I wonder who could possibly have made an AI-powered, behavior-based personalization tool that works that way…

Fact: AI in Personalization is Coming

All kidding aside, we’re not the only ones who think this way. Recent data from Adobe shows that 9 out of 10 companies show a positive ROI from their personalization efforts, with more than 40% seeing greater than a 6:1 return. But few organizations only about 4 in 10 feel that they have the personalization capabilities they need. This is the gap that B2B marketing executives your competitors are working with their IT colleagues to close. Why? Because there is also significant data showing that customers prefer personalized experiences.

For starters, take note of the potential returns already mentioned. Also, B2B buyers have said in study after study after study that they expect personalized experiences and will find a better option if you don’t meet those expectations.

Oh… one more reason it’s important for you to think about how to provide these experiences? CMO tenure has reached its lowest point in a decade. Not many marketing executives can afford to miss out on these kinds of opportunities… or at least not for long.

Conclusion: Why B2B Marketers Must Embrace AI in Personalization

We live in challenging times. Whether those challenges come from the difficulties of coping with large amounts of data, customer privacy concerns, regulatory changes, IT integration efforts, costs, global pandemics or all of these at the same time your job as a B2B marketer is hard. There’s no way to grossly oversimplify that fact. Adding to the complexity, it’s clear your buyers expect personalized experiences that help them achieve their objectives or they won’t be your buyers. And pressure to deliver from the C-Suite isn’t making this any easier.

Your competitors increasingly use artificial intelligence to interpret and understand the sheer volume of data they’re gathering. Remember, AI makes big data little. But also remember that personal information is going away. And it may not even matter in B2B in the first place. Instead, effective, forward-thinking AI-powered personalization platforms use anonymous data to determine not only where customers are in their journey, but also the right messages and offers to present customers from existing content.

So, yes, “we’re in challenging times.” Again. And this probably won’t be the last time. But you’re going to be fine. Artificial intelligence and personalization can help put those challenges to rest. And that’s a fact you can happily embrace… even when times are tough.

Curious how we can help you connect AI and personalization for your customers, for your company, and for your future? Give us a call at 862-234-0365 or drop us a line. We’re here to help. And, if you want to learn more about how to put personalization to work for your business, check out the “Six Personalization Realities B2B Marketers Need to Know Right Now” ebook today.