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.

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.

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.

When will B2B events return? 1 yr+ is the answer.

I created a video for SoloSegment’s homepage back in April thinking that it wouldn’t age well. It was about the fact that B2B marketers, in addition to the threats of COVID, are threatened by the fact that there are no trade shows going on. A key source of leads has vanished. At the time, I expected to have to update that come May.

I watched the video this morning and I wouldn’t change a thing. Despite the fact that we’re all more comfortable with the new way of behaving–social distancing, wearing masks, staying home–the reality of this virus hasn’t changed. It’s still out there. Sickness is still rising in some places though steady or declining slowly in others. In order to maintain this stalemate with the virus, we’re going to have to continue to be careful.

So when are things going to get back to normal?

For B2B marketers, the big question is when will events come back. It’s hard to say, but a large part of that answer will be dependent upon when people are comfortable with traveling and being in crowded places.

One hint to the answer of that timing may come in a recent NY Times article where they asked 511 epidemiologists when they were going to be ready to change their behavior on a variety of activities. What’s most relevant to us as professionals is that they say they wouldn’t attend a large event in the next year. Are regular folks going to be as reluctant to travel as epidemiologists? I don’t know but I suspect the answer is more yes than no.

So what are you to do in the interim?

As I’ve discussed in several forums over the past few months, you’re going to have to improve your digital engagement game. That means your website is going to have to be more effective than ever at capturing and progressing leads. For those who have a good digital game this likely means shifting focus and spend. For those who have neglected their digital properties, the journey may be more challenging but is doable.

Where should you be investing your time and money?

The key areas that I’d focus on are:

  • Content Marketing – everything starts with the right content. Do you have messaging on your site that aligns with the pain your prospects feel? Do those messages have clear calls to action?
  • Fully Exploiting Existing Tech – many companies have what I refer to shelfware. Great technology that isn’t being fully utilized. What capabilities do you have to increase engagement with what you already have?
  • Fill The Gaps – where you’re missing a piece in your tech stack, personalization is one common area that B2B marketers struggle with, get on that. Your prospects have high expectations that you’ll at least appear to know what they want.

Personally, I doubt I’ll be attending an in-person event of any scale for the remainder of this calendar year. That’s at least six months until I’m ready, absent better testing or a long-shot vaccine, and I may be a little more of a risk taker than many others.

We’re all going to be watching how the behaviors of our prospects and customers evolve during the coming months. But if I were to bet, I would bet that some behaviors have permanently changed. If buyers get used to evaluating products via websites and zoom meetings with sales reps the heyday of large B2B events may be behind us. Digital may finally be your primary way of engaging B2B buyers, now more than ever. Data shows that personalized content delivers greater engagement and increased leads (you can learn more about how to do that in this “Six Truths About Personalization B2B Marketers Must Know” ebook). And it’s something you can do more easily than you think.

Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in improving your website’s engagement, lead contributions, and conversions, connect with me and we’ll have a chat.

B2B Conferences Canceled? How to Pivot Your Company.

Woe is us, right? Trade shows, B2B conferences, summits, everything has been canceled. Gone. Seemingly over a weekend, we have watched face-to-face become shelter-in-place. More events are canceled or postponed every day. Or they are moving online, which might be even worse, because who knows if the money you paid for a booth will pay off in an online event.

And it isn’t just what is being outright canceled. What happens when the shows come back? Will anyone go? The most optimistic among us must come to grips with the idea that the great conference lead machine is dead. At least for now. If your marketing deal flow depends on in-person events, this is the time for a pivot. A digital pivot.

What can you do to drive leads?

While everyone is hunkered down at home and not attending conferences you should reach them literally where they live. B2B web traffic is up–is yours? If not, maybe you should focus on attracting traffic:

  • Can you improve your search marketing?
  • Can you buy ads?
  • Can you improve your email campaigns?

If your web traffic is up, are your web-driven leads up? If not, you should focus on driving more leads:

We have a bunch more tips to help you learn more about driving leads with personalized content in a new ebook, “The Six Personalization Truths Every B2B Marketer Needs to Know Right Now.”

Getting to “Yes” on Digital Dollars

But maybe it isn’t ideas that are the problem. You want to do all of these things. But when I ask you “Can you…” the answer is, “No, I can’t.” Usually, when someone tells me that they can’t do something, it’s because the decision isn’t theirs to make. They need to persuade someone higher up who is playing the role of “Dr. No.”

So, I have an idea for you that a really smart client of ours just used. He made a simple chart that showed a list of all the B2B conferences, sales conferences, and trade shows that his company attended last year, along with a count of the number of leads driven for each event. Then he added a column at the end of each row of the table that said, “CANCELED” running down the full length of the list. It was a nice long list of events that drove lots of leads last year but are driving zero leads this year.

This galvanized his boss into action. Instead of the plaintive suggestion you’ve made every month for the last two years: “Gee, shouldn’t we be shifting our B2B Sales Playbook to digital?” now you have reframed the question to “Where are we going to plug this gaping hole in leads that is about to turn into a gaping hole in revenue?”

Get going!

Now the boss is ready to act. Now the boss is ready to shift the B2B conference budget into digital. Now is when you can get to work. This is your moment. You must aggressively pivot while the money is there to do it. If you let this chance go by, the finance types will scoop up all the trade show money and you won’t have any funding to accelerate digital. Your sales digital transformation will never get funded.

This crisis has been an unspeakable tragedy for many families–maybe even yours. But it isn’t callous to hope that some good–some minor good, but good nonetheless–can come out of this horror. Can we make the confident moves to pivot to digital that solidifies our companies and saves the jobs of our team, because we will be driving the leads when competitors remain fast asleep? Let’s not compound the health crisis with our own jobs crisis, just because we didn’t act when we could have. What you do now will decide your future.

Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in improving your website’s engagement, lead contributions, and conversions, connect with me and we’ll have a chat or download our ebook today.

It’s the end of the world as we know it (for B2B Marketing)

End of the world. Hyperbole? Probably. But B2B Marketing does feel a bit broken right now.

The most important tools in our arsenal require people to meet people. That’s not happening. So what now? Where should your priorities be? Website engagement is an area to focus because it’s a good bet (see your analytics data) your prospects are going digital.