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:
- the technology itself,
- the content that will be served,
- 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.