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.

B2B Personalization isn’t easy. B2B Personalization is hard.

One thing that comes up, again and again, is the challenge of delivering personalized content for B2B visitors. Most of these companies (generally large enterprises across a variety of industries) have created visitor journey frameworks so they have the context for deciding what content goes in front of what visitor. So why is personalization so difficult?

Well, it isn’t the data about visitors. There are plenty of first and third-party sources about visitor data. You may have some work to do in order to integrate that data into your systems, but visitor data is no longer the heavy lift. Putting that data to work is the lift. That usually requires an IT lift and a content lift that many companies struggle with when getting started.

The IT Lift for B2B Personalization

Some of the people I spoke with talked about the challenge of getting the CIO teams to help with implementing personalization. What was interesting about several of these conversations was that these marketing teams were running large integrated MarTech suites. They bought these suites because they promised the swiss army knife functionality out of the box. Unfortunately, some of them require “configuration” which is beyond the marketing team’s capabilities.

If you’re choosing a best in class technology, the IT can generally be lower—many of them pitch the ease of getting started—but you’re generally faced with getting IT approval for adding another technology to the landscape. Yet again, you’re working to get priority and perhaps budget from the IT team.

The Content Lift for B2B Personalization

When working on journey maps, we all created the grids that showed tasks and stages for each persona and the capabilities and content that needed to be developed for every digital interaction. One of the greatest challenges was making those designs reality. Content and feature creation was often the biggest hurdle in getting value out of the work. That was a frustration expressed by many of the marketing leaders that I spoke to.

Being practical, they focus on the content and capabilities that have the greatest value and don’t try to do everything. Sometimes they know this because they have metrics. More often than not they choose where to focus using experience and intuition. That’s a nice way of saying that they trust their gut.

What do you do when the personalization engine needs to be fed content for pages? Multiple personas. Multiple stages. Many tasks. Complex page templates. That’s a lot of content. That’s a big challenge for content marketers who are already pressed to feed the content marketing machine. 

Getting Started with B2B Personalization

If you already have a personalization technology as part of your stack but are struggling with either the IT life or the content life, you’re going to need budget to get started. Getting budget is difficult. (I wrote on the things that prevent marketing teams from getting the most from AI). So, you need to start small. Starting small is easier. Much easier.

Find friends. You know who these people are. They’re the folks who are always experimenting with new stuff. You’ll need someone who owns the content. You’ll need someone who owns the product—they’re going to have the business case mojo. And you’ll likely need an IT pal who can help navigate. 

If you don’t have personalization tech in your stack, start with a best in class provider. Most of these providers (SoloSegment included) are relatively easy to deploy. Get them to do a proof of concept. Some will offer this for free for sixty days or so, some will charge a nominal amount but this will make your IT lift low. You will probably need a content person, but some tech will work with your existing content. You’ll definitely need a product person (that may be you) to build the business case.

For either scenario, your goal is to demonstrate value within sixty days of deployment. Set your initial goals low—go for fewer bounces or fewer “bad” exits (an exit without a task completion). Make some assumptions about how this top to mid-funnel progression contributes to conversions, and you’ve got the basics for building your business case. The business case is your key to budget for expanding into a broader adoption of personalization technology.

If you’re a B2B marketer and you want to add your voice to Steve’s conversations, drop us a line at: info@solosegment.com.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: AI in Marketing–Where Are We On The Hype Curve?

“Come on. All this AI stuff, around marketing and sales, that’s all just hype, right? That’s not a real thing that matters. Maybe it’ll matter someday. But it doesn’t yet matter today.”

That’s a question I got recently, and it got Steve Zakur and I wondering where we are on the hype curve. Is it really just all hype? Maybe not — platform companies are snapping up data scientists the way early internet companies snapped up web developers.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Four things that prevent marketing teams from getting the most from AI

Why is it that with all the marketing technology vendors claiming their products are fortified with AI pixie dust, business results aren’t better? The same goes for internal IT projects. Everyone wants their process to be better–and artificial intelligence, machine learning, and text analytics can provide that something special. And yet, it doesn’t feel like something special is occurring. At least not in the way that lots of consumer products are getting smarter and better.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

AI is the wrong name but the right idea

Many people have only recently become acquainted with the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but the term was first coined 55 years ago this month at the Dartmouth conference. The name AI has never sat well with me, partly because calling computers “artificial” seems strange. (I haven’t heard Google referred to as “artificial search” to contrast it with the good old-fashioned searching that human beings do when poring over books in the library.) 

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.

Keep Your Content from Disappearing into the Blogroll

Your content marketing is too valuable to waste

How findable is the content on your site? If the answer is that you aren’t sure — you may have a problem. And you aren’t alone. Many marketers spend great lengths of time on content marketing. But a lot of that content goes unread. The main problem is that the people you want to read it can’t find it.

Madeline Moran

About Madeline Moran

Madeline is the Marketing Assistant for SoloSegment, an AI fueled software company that makes website conversions easier through personalized content recommendation.

SearchChat Podcast: How AI Drives Value for Your Business

In this episode Steve Zakur and I are curious about the ways AI can be used to drive greater value for your company. We have our opinions about our own software of course, but this is a bigger question: how can you use AI to make your entire team and business smarter?

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Companies that avoid change management, eventually change management

Digital transformation is all around us–no company can escape. Most companies recognize this, and focus on managing the change in an effective way. But then there are others that think they can avoid digital.

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.

Search Failure. You Can’t Stop Talking About It.

Since January I’ve had dozens of discussions with marketing professionals as part of a product roadmap listening tour. My goal is to hear what’s top of mind for thought leaders, understand the pain points, and figure out how to align our product and our marketing messages with what I’m hearing. While most of the conversation focused around our new product thesis: effective visitor journeys and customer experience powered by behavior-based personalized content recommendation, people couldn’t help but talk about search failure.

Site Search

As you already know, searchers are your best prospects and are more likely to convert according to the data our clients have shared with us. It’s true for B2C and it’s true for B2B. But selling this notion is hard because many companies have no clear owner for the search experience. So we don’t always talk about the positive effect our product has on search. But the people I’ve been talking to can’t help themselves. They universally volunteer that at best their search is a work in progress and at worst it’s a disaster.

So many stories

One large packaged goods company showed me a content marketing site that seemed incapable of providing search results of related articles. If you were looking for an article on living with teens, you were likely to see content marketing and products related to babies.

An executive at a leading insurance company lamented the fact that if you were looking for content related to their asset management business (a B2B play), you were just as likely to see information related to consumer offerings.

And there were also countless stories about personal B2C problems. Looking for the thing in white and only being offered red. Searching for a hoodie and being offered jackets without hoods. Seemingly random search results.

Why is that a problem?

Because of Google. You’ve spent a lot of money and effort improving SEO to attract visitors to the top of your funnel. If they land on your page and find the content wanting they have three choices: site search, navigate, or go back to Google. Navigation is only viable if your site is simple enough to understand. For most B2B companies, this is really hard. If site search isn’t working, well your visitors are left with only one choice. Google.

There are three concerns when visitors bounce back to Google:

  1. It potentially invalidates your SEO strategy. You’re either on the wrong keywords, have the wrong content or both.
  2. Your ability to progress journeys is stymied.
  3. Your competitors get another crack at your visitors.

The Promise of AI and Site Search

A lot of site search vendors are beginning to pitch AI as a technology that will make search better. The engine is smarter, therefore results are better. That’s a start. If text analytics or machine learning models can make search content more relevant, then eventually your visitors may begin to trust your site search.

But what’s really relevant about better search is not the “how” of better search, it’s the “why” of better search. Do the better results lead to fewer site bounces? Fewer exits? More conversions? Is your search data useful outside of search?

Is better search the answer?

Better search is only part of the answer. What you really want is better journey progression. What you really want are more conversions and more MQLs. That’s why we’re focused on building technologies that take better search data and use that elsewhere in the visitor journey.

If you’re a B2B company, it’s likely that site searchers make up a relatively small portion of your website visitors. But every visitor could use guidance as they try to navigate the complexities of your digital presence. Combining better search data with your journey data and your content data creates the opportunity to identify content that your visitors need, so that they’re more likely to progress their journeys and less likely to bounce and exit.

Make your search smarter. But make sure you’re focused on the true goal. Increasing the likelihood that your visitors are going to connect with content that matters and progress towards their goal. 

Want help getting the benefits of better site search? Check out our SearchBox software.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: How Marketers Can Use Data to Keep Your Seat at the Table

There’s major power for automation within marketing, and not everyone is harnessing it. This episode of SearchChat Steve Zakur and I ask: how can CMOs use both automation and data to keep their seat at the table as companies evolve?

Now matter how long it takes to perfect, your work it will never be done. That’s because everything requires data and feedback. 61% of marketers said creating an automation strategy for their practices is a top priority, according to a recent study. The amount of data available to us defies human capability to process it. What’s more, people often struggle to believe that the data they are seeing is more accurate than their intuition.

Letting data lead often produces results we can’t get any other way. This year we saw a 6 year high in the percentage of time data is used in decision making–and it’s actually still a low number. In our last podcast we saw a similar trend, where most CEOs agree that AI will be bigger than the internet and yet 20% said they had no plans to do anything about it.

The DNA of marketing teams is creativity — but sometimes means data gets lost among unfounded opinions. One of the most powerful moments you can have as a marketing professional is refuting an executive’s intuition with hard proof.

Speak in the language of data to get your seat at the table.

0:00 Intro

1:50 Let the market tell you when you get it right

5:48 Automation is a top priority

10:55 Are you letting data lead?

21:40 Why CMOs need tech alliances

30:28 Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company. If you think we might have the answer to your conversion problems, feel free to connect with us.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Are You Considering Behavior-Based Personalization?

If you are like most marketers, you’ve probably been salivating over personalizing your website for years. It has always seemed like a good idea, but it’s never seemed possible.

At first, you thought, “If Amazon can do it, we can do it!” But then your IT folks told you the way Amazon does it. Amazon has so many products and so many purchases in its history–and so many repeat visitors–that it is relatively simple to guess what people want. But your site isn’t like Amazon.

Then you thought, “Well, if we know something about our visitors, we can use that to personalize.” But no one wanted to register on your site, so you didn’t know who they were. And privacy regulations came along, and you weren’t sure you wanted to know anything.

Does that mean that you have to give up the dream? No!

You actually can personalize using your visitors’ behavior. With the right technology, you can watch what visitors do on your site. With a bit more technology, you can find the patterns that lead them to success. And with one last dollop of tech, you can use that data to suggest successful paths to others on that same journey.

That’s the beauty of behavior-based personalization. It doesn’t require registrations. It’s GDPR-compliant, because it doesn’t require any personally-identifiable information. It doesn’t require a a slew of products or  return visitors. Or heavy traffic.

If you’ve been waiting for the easy way to add personalization to your site, it’s time to check out behavior-based personalization.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.