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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.

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.

COVID-19 doesn’t have to ruin your B2B pipeline

The second quarter is often the peak time for you and other large enterprise B2B marketers to be out at events telling your stories to prospects. Due to COVID-19, we’re seeing many cancellations in industry events during 2Q. The few events that continue on will no doubt be sparsely attended due to travel restrictions at the very companies with which you want to connect. Does this mean the death of your pipeline for 2020 business? It doesn’t if you’re able to get a disproportionately larger output from your other sources of leads.

SoloSegment Announces Acquisition of Thematically’s Industry-Leading AI-Powered Discover Platform

SoloSegment announced today its acquisition of Thematically’s artificial intelligence models and underlying assets, marketed as Thematically Discover, further cementing the company’s position as the leader in B2B behavior-based personalization.

Industrial B2B marketers have an untapped digital opportunity

Industrial B2B marketing lags in digital — in some places more than others.

Some B2B companies love their tried-and-true strategy. They have always gone to market with big trade events, airport advertising, and field sales reps to follow-up on all those leads. If a client needs something, an account exec gets a call, whips out their cape and flies over to the client to solve the problem or make the sale. Industrial B2B marketing has followed these strategies for years. So, where’s the need for digital?

SearchChat Podcast: Is Anonymous Information Really Anonymous?

In today’s podcast episode Steve Zakur and I respond to a recent article that criticized anonymous data, with the main critique being that it isn’t really anonymous. If you can grab the IP address and dig further to find identities, is that really anonymous personalization? Our answer: not really, but that isn’t what anonymous data really is. 

Marketing and MarTech: What’s your approach?

A few years ago, Scott Brinker and the Third Door Media team declared that MarTech is marketing. There is no difference between marketing technology like personalization and just plain marketing. It used to be you’d ask the question “Tell me about your martech stack.” That’s no longer the case today–it would even be perhaps a weird question.