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.

Your Future Requires Website Personalization at Scale

Personalization is dead, right? Gartner and the other cool kids say so. Particularly when you’re trying to scale personalization on your website. There are lots of reasons that people provide:

  • It’s too hard to collect personal information.
  • It’s too hard to do.
  • It’s too hard to deliver ROI.

And they do have a point—websites and the Internet as whole are littered with the debris of failed personalization projects. But what if there was a different way to do it?

Let’s start with the objections. Yes, it is definitely too hard to collect personal information, and it is getting harder every day. Not only are web users more reluctant to part with information, but privacy regulations and the elimination of cookie tracking from browsers thanks to ITP and ETP are making it difficult to personalize your website even when users are willing to let you. But what if you adopted a strategy for personalization that works with anonymous information?

Personalization at scale has also certainly been hard to do. So much so, in fact, that we’ve written a whole ebook about what B2B marketers must know about personalization. Marketers have been given tools that require creating new content and crafting manual rules for when that content should be shown. Sure, in theory you can do personalization without martech, but would you want to? And bringing martech into the mix makes it even harder, requiring significant amounts of IT collaboration and support to implement it all. But what if there is another way that requires none of that?

And, of course, many failed personalization projects have failed to prove they delivered the ROI that business leaders expected. But maybe that’s because it’s too expensive to do—obviously, it’s a lot easier to show ROI if you can do it at a lower cost. And if you can make personalization work automatically, it can work everywhere, which means you get the benefit across your whole site not just the few pages you can hand-craft. So, what if there was an inexpensive way to scale personalization?

Believe it or not, the idea of delivering personalization at scale for all your users and at a reasonable cost is not science fiction. After all, does anyone think that Amazon’s personalized experience is being hand-crafted on its pages? Amazon has automated personalization at scale. That’s what you need to do, also.

But you’re right if you are thinking that you can’t do it the way Amazon does. You don’t have Amazon’s data about customers. You don’t have Amazon’s traffic to test the experiences to success. And you don’t have Amazon’s budget to build this technology from scratch.

Fortunately, you don’t need any of those things. Your site can inexpensively and easily create an experience of web personalization at scale. You just need the right tools. Want to learn more? Check out our personalization ebook when you have a moment. Or, if you’re ready, drop us a line and let’s talk about how you can deliver personalization at scale for your website, your customers, and most importantly, for your business 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.

About Us

Who are we?

B2B personalization that drives conversions

SoloSegment makes website conversions easier using behavior-based content recommendation to improve journey progression.

Lead qualification happens online, and quality content is vital for journey progression. But your content is increasingly gatekept by Google. Prospects who do find your site enter through different channels and at different stages, they can bounce around or get stuck, they can exit back to Google. B2B businesses like yours suffer from high bounce rates and exits.

Your prospects need to find the right content at the right time so sales can progress. That’s why SoloSegment provides personalized content recommendation for your customers.

What we provide

Content discovery through behavior-based personalization

Quality content isn’t enough for your website’s ability to sell. You also need navigation that guides a customer seamlessly toward conversion.That’s where SoloSegment steps in to provide effective software solutions for effortless navigation. 

Our GuideBox technology recommends the next best piece of content for your prospects to progress their journeys. Behavior-based personalization uses your own website data to determine what prospects need before they know they need it. You can use the content you already have. We just deliver the content where it should go.

Check out GuideBox to give your prospects what they need.

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Our approach to software

AI only matters if you can see the value

SoloSegment uses machine learning and text analytics to model visitor behavior and predict what content is needed to progress a journey. Over time, GuideBox does a better and better job of improving your customer’s experience as it gains feedback from visitors. With better content recommendations, users are more likely to find high-quality information and are more inclined to convert. And with our analytics database, you can watch it happen.  

Learn how our content recommendation works.

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How we're different

Most marketing automation misses the point

  • Effectiveness. Most content marketing tools focus on efficiency: scaling marketing activity at low cost. But you need to deliver content that actually leads to sales. Our technology automatically targets the right customer with the right message.

  • Measurable results. GuideBox improves your site over time using in-depth analytics so you can prove success.

  • Easy to implement. You may already have a personalization technology. Are you using it? We aren’t here to give your IT team more work to do; it’s as simple as adding a JavaScript tag. There’s no additional work for your content team either: we use the content you already have to progress journeys.
Learn what GuideBox can do for you.
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What we value

Personalization without personal information

At SoloSegment we are ditching the use of excessive personal information. Maybe that’s weird for a personalization company, but we all know customers are increasingly wary of how their data is being used—and abused.

So we do personalization without it.

Instead of tracking personal information, we’re using on-site behavior to offer content suggestions, as well as improve website search. And the data is clear: it works.

Discover how GuideBox is carving a new path for personalization.

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Let us increase your marketing yield.

You have the content. We have the tech to make it effective. Use the data we provide to improve conversions and guide your customers to the content they need. Our solutions are a great match for many large B2B enterprises. GuideBox incorporates behavioral personalization to offer relevant content discovery.

Get connected with us. We’ll reach out for a quick conversation to see if your business challenges align with our solutions.

Our Team

Stephen Zakur

CEO

Mike Moran

Chief Product Officer

Deb Schroeder

President and Chief Operating Officer

Katie Roper

Chief Revenue Officer

Tim Peter

Senior Advisor

Angela Wu

Senior Consultant

Shamoy Baker

Software Engineer

Abdullah Noman

Software Engineer

Our Advisors

Rachel Orston

Philip Resnik

Mark Schaefer

SoloSegment is a proud member of the Digital Analytics Association​

MarTech Outlook Marketing Analytics Solution Provider

In 2018, MarTech Outlook named SoloSegment one of the top ten solution providers in Marketing Analytics.

When B2B Personalization is Too Hard to Implement

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

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

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

Opportunities And Gaps In MarTech

Last week I was asked what the biggest opportunities and gaps are in the MarTech stack. It’s an interesting question when one considers all the technology that’s available in the market. While I could opine on features and functions that I’d like to see, what really bugs me is the fact that so much of the overarching promise of marketing technology remains unfulfilled.

Is your personalization for your visitors… or for you?

Let’s view personalization through your visitor’s eyes

Anyone who has kept up with me on just about any social media platforms knows I’m all about music, and my guilty pleasure – always – would be investing in a new guitar. Or, y’know, guitars. More is better. And if I were to visit a music store that collected data on visitors, they’d know I like a certain make of guitar (I do) and that, for example, I bought two last year and have only bought one so far this year. Maybe, the bright salesperson thinks, “this guy needs need another axe.” 

The Challenge Of B2B Personalization

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had 147 conversations with B2B marketing leaders. These aren’t sales calls. I’m not pitching anything. They’re conversations about the issues that are top of mind for these professionals. I guide these discussions with questions around areas we’re interested in, but the main goal is to get a sense of the market. It turns out that personalization is a top of mind issue.

GuideBox

PERSONALIZE BETTER

Anonymous, behavior-based personalization with GuideBox

Use easy-to-deploy behavior-based personalization to guide your customers to conversion. No cookies. No problem.

Customers demand better website personalization

Customers expect a personalized experience. But they are tired of bad personalization and personal data misuse. GuideBox provides anonymous, behavior-based website personalization to drive leads for your business.

Lead identification and qualification happens online, and quality content is vital for journey progression. Your visitors are already telling you about the connection between their intent and the content that helps them achieve their goals.

We collect that data and use it to power a personalized experience. This enables you to use totally anonymous data to provide your customers with the content they need, before they know they need it.

WHY GUIDEBOX?

B2B buying processes are complex. You have multiple personas doing research across multiple visits. It’s hard to build and maintain an effective content strategy. But it’s not just the content that’s hard, it’s the behavior. 

Bounce rates are higher than you’d like. Conversion rates are stubbornly low. You need a way to connect visitors with the right content that you already have. Anonymous behavior-based personalization makes that possible.

With GuideBox you can provide a personalized and relevant experience that leads to more conversions. Connect with an expert.

WHAT IT DOES

Better Marketing Outcomes

GuideBox helps your customers find what they’re looking for, automatically, with quantifiable results. GuideBox provides website users with content recommendations based on aggregated historical behavioral data. GuideBox’s fast and measurable results allow your visitors to achieve their goals while you grow your business.

Anonymous Data

Every day it seems like there is a new privacy regulation restricting marketing use of personal data. Instead of adjusting your approach with each new law, use anonymous data that will never be regulated. GuideBox analyzes previous patterns of visitor success to recommend the right content to the next visitor.

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Integrated Systems

Many "Best of Breed" MarTech solutions struggle to work with the rest of your MarTech stack. GuideBox's API allows you to easily share data with other MarTech components. Want to use GuideBox's content recommendation in your CMS? No problem. Share Guidebox data with some other component? That works too. Unlike many SaaS solutions your data isn't trapped in a silo.

HOW IT WORKS

GuideBox gathers, evaluates, and models visitor behavior data to automatically improve your website customer experience. GuideBox also gathers information about intent, context, and content to better hone recommendations. All this data is taken into account to create the best experience for that individual.

JS-based Data

You may already have a personalization technology. Are you using it? The complexity of creating content, engaging IT, and maintaining your MarTech stack is often overwhelming. GuideBox works by simply adding a JavaScript tag to your website. The JavaScript collects data and presents recommendations to your visitors, automatically improving the customer experience. No more struggling to use the product you’re paying for, simply plug it in and you’re done.

Machine Learning

Discerning what visitors need in a given moment requires a complex analysis of behavior and content data. GuideBox utilizes a variety of technologies -- including machine learning and text analytics -- to model behavior and predict what content is needed in a given moment to progress a journey. Over time, it will do a better and better job of improving the customer experience as it gains feedback from your visitors.

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Recommendations that Convert

With better content recommendation, users are more likely to find high quality information and are more inclined to convert. We'll show you the data. More importantly, we'll put the data to work.

software features

Easy to Deploy

Simply plug GuideBox into your JavaScript and let it work.

Automatic

You don’t have to lift a finger.

Integration Friendly

GuideBox is compatible with your entire content and Martech stack, so that you don’t have to worry about changing anything.

Rapid Time to Value

GuideBox works quickly so that you can see the value of what you’re paying for.

Practical AI

Easy to use machine learning that shows real results.

Configurable

GuideBox works how you want it to.

Guide Your Customers to Conversions

Start personalizing your website with GuideBox today.