SearchChat Podcast: Your Customers are Begging for (Better) Personalization

In today’s episode of SearchChat, Steve Zakur and I tackle the TopRank blog and what skills B2B content marketers need to have. How do you take those people coming in the front door, the first interaction on your site, and engage them so it’s not the last page they look at? At the end of the day — no matter what your marketing techniques are, if you can’t measure them, you don’t know for sure how much they even mattered.

We also discuss the Mary Meeker trends report and what it says about your data. Data is now fundamental to help people work, and the most successful companies have intelligently integrated it into everyone’s daily workflow. We talked about this last month on whether data is a moat — SearchChat Podcast: Data Is Not a Moat for Your Business. What Is? When used properly, data can improve customer satisfaction. And here’s some powerful data — a survey of retail customers shows that 91% prefer brands that provide personalized offers / recommendations.

Meanwhile, many businesses are struggling to implement data — as a new study showed 41% of shoppers say that most personalized messages still feel like mass marketing. Those messages, they feel, were not created with their specific needs in mind. Lastly, we discuss the three trends driving the second golden age of martech. Instead of marketing cloud suites vs. best-of-breed point solutions, we can have the best of both.

0:00 Intro

2:00 Must-have skills for B2B content marketers, and why measurement is so crucial to the role

9:00 Mary Meeker trends report: what does it say about your data?

16:30 Personalized messages still feel like mass marketing

25:10 3 trends driving the second golden age of martech

29:00 Outtro

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.

Avatar

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.

What’s Inside Behavioral Data?

Personas have been used for a number of years by B2B digital marketers to craft content that aligns with a visitor’s context. But we all know that personas are also so… 2015. The rise in personalization has revealed both the limits and challenges of persona-based content creation — creating and maintaining content for every persona is a lot of work and getting that content in front of the visitor at the right time is tricky.

Move from personas to personalization

In order to get that content in front of the right person, you have to know a bit about the visitor. Usually that’s done with either first party or third party data that you’ve gathered or obtained about the visitor. But both regulatory changes (see GDPR) and industry practices (see ITP 2.1) are going to limit the effectiveness of such tracking in the near future. So you’re going to have to take a different approach to identifying and segmenting users.

Using behavior data and contextual data for segmentation is one way to be able to deliver relevant content in an environment where persona data may not be available. With this approach, visitors don’t need to hand over any personal data for you to best understand who is visiting your site and what their goals are, and what content they need to see to progress their journey.

There are two types of behavioral data 

  1. Historical behavior: What pages have they visited? What have they viewed on the site? What articles did they read? Where have they clicked? What content have they downloaded? Marketers (especially with the help of advanced technology like text analytics and machine learning) can make use of all of this aggregate behavioral and contextual data to model patterns that are associated with task achievement. 
  2. Real-time behavior: Models are great, but putting them to work is where the magic happens. The real-time data related to a  particular customer’s experience (the pages they look at and the context of those pages)is compared to the model. Task predictions take place and content effective at progression towards those tasks are presented to users. At a minimum, contextual data can be used to recommend related content.

Understanding past behavior is the critical input to being able to predict effective future journeys. This type of personalization reduces the workload on content creators because it maximizes the use of content that you already have on your website. It’s also content that your visitors have already told you is effective. 

How do you use behavioral personalization on your site?

Getting started with personalization can be difficult. Many integrated MarTech stacks include personalization capabilities but many companies don’t use those capabilities. Often that comes down to one of two choke points: IT teams enabling some of the capability, and/or content teams creating the content to be presented.

Behavioral personalization can mitigate some of those concerns by using the content that you already have, data that’s readily available, and easy to deploy technologies to offer content suggestions that progress journeys towards completion. 

Despite fitting your persona classification, your visitors and prospects are wildly diverse with no two achieving their objectives in the same way. No amount of information about demographics or firmographics will help solve that journey diversity problem. Behavioral data packs a wealth of knowledge about not just your visitor, but their relationship to your products. Use that and you’ll connect more visitors with the content that matters.

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.

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.

B2B content is just as vital

When we talk to B2B content creators they often lament the fact that their content — especially blog posts on corporate websites — seems to be a lone voice in the wilderness. Their point of view is expressed and then lost for all of time. The metrics make depressingly clear the irrelevance of the effort.

In B2B where a purchase is a group decision, this is an even greater concern. There are multiple decision makers that need to weigh in. It’s all the more important to have a wide variety of relevant content available that is accessible to the right people, at the right time in their journey.

Buyers crave personalization

The more you can direct individuals to content that addresses their business or functional concerns the more likely they are to buy. Infosys research suggests 31% of customers say they wish their shopping experience was far more personalized than it currently is, and 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.

Personalization becomes key.

A recent report from Seismic shows that personalized content helps achieve B2B objectives. 80% of respondents claimed all of their top objectives were better met when content is personalized. But many marketers avoid engaging in it because it is such a manual process.

The step ahead: automation

Automation is one way to abandon the tedious and sometimes futile work of hand-crafting content experiences and customer journeys. Behavior-based content recommendation suggests the next content piece to a viewer based on where they are at in their journey. Content can not only be found and used to answer questions, but is also offered at the moment it’s most needed.

Content marketing isn’t enough. You need content findability. You need a well cultivated content experience. Is your content well segmented for each user’s needs? Does your blog have sections so the content can be navigated? And with many different products, decision-makers and questions, you may need to bring automation to content. Otherwise, you risk your valuable content vanishing into the blogroll.

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.

Personalization — It’s Not Just for B2C

This past year, the demand for personalization is at an all-time high.

According to a Lytics white paper, two-thirds of customers want brands to adjust content based on their real-time context. Over 40% are annoyed if you don’t. And another two-thirds of those said they skip making a purchase out of annoyance.

That’s not just a problem for retail.

The Future of Personalization

Marketing’s future is not just about knowing about your customer’s identity. That dream is slowly being killed off by companies like Facebook abusing their power, getting marketers slapped with legal restraints.

But you have far more data than that. You have the potential for behavior based personalization. Track what buyers come to your site and their buyer’s journey — what content they click through to reach a conversion — and you’ll get a guide for content suggestions.

The B2B World is Lagging Behind

B2C took the lead on personalization. Meanwhile too many B2B marketers are either early on in the process, or so behind that getting started feels daunting. According to the Seismic report, of the B2B marketers who responded, 55% have been personalizing content for two years or less. For a little over half of marketers, the main stumbling blocks are a lack of technology, bandwidth, and data.

Marketers make it harder for themselves than it needs to be. 67% are using entirely or mostly manual processes for content personalization. With a little automation plus the data on your website, you could be leading the pack.

B2B Buyers Expect Better

All signs point to B2B buyers being let down. In a SalesForce report, 65% of B2B buyers switch brands if a brand doesn’t personalize communications. 75% expect companies to “anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions” by 2020. This means the future we are headed in is one of content recommendation, of curated and responsive personalization.

You can get started in B2B personalization. You already have more data than you think — all of your website analytics. Behavior based personalization is waiting. It’s just a matter of taking the dive.

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.

Why Customer Experience Matters Most For B2B Marketers

The biggest mistake that many companies make in their B2B sales and marketing activities is the way they fragment or silo different touchpoints in the customer journey among disparate functional teams. And, worse, the way they make it difficult for those teams to work together. Customer experience matters for B2B marketers. You’d think you would make that easier to bring to life.

You’ve got a product marketing group that develops the content around your products. You’ve got a content team that develops landing and promotional pages. You’ve got a search marketing team that tries to drive people to those pages. You’ve got a social marketing team, ditto. You’ve got a conversion rate optimization squad that tries to generate leads. You’ve got a CRM team that focuses on developing those leads, funneling them to the right salespeople, and turning them into sales. Or you’ve got one very overworked team trying to do all of these at the same time. And who don’t have near enough time to work together.

You’d think that in 2019, this wouldn’t still be true. “Customer experience is queen” and all that. But, since people keep hiring us to help them untangle that knot, it seems that’s not the case.

Don’t get me wrong. I love helping clients sort out these problems. But that’s clearly not the best solution for your customers. Here’s why. And what you can do about it.

Here’s the thing. Your customers, without being mean about it, don’t really care about you. They care about their own needs, their own problems. As the old joke goes, “Your customer doesn’t want a drill. They want a hole.” At best, especially early in your relationship to the customer, you’re a solution to a problem. Over time, with patience, skill, and more luck than any of us want to acknowledge, you can become a trusted partner. But at the start, you exist only to — and only if you — solve a problem.

That’s why most folks start with search. We consistently see sites receiving at least 40% to 60% of their traffic from organic and, to a lesser extent, paid search traffic. The good news is that the customer is telling you what she wants. She’s literally asking for your help. The bad news is that so few sites succeed in answering her question. Isn’t that part of the customer experience?

In fact, it’s the first chance you get to both create a great experience and to develop a relationship. Why aren’t those better connected? What questions do your best customers ask? Is that information shared with your search marketing team? With your product marketing team? With your content team? If not, why not?

When you fail to connect these functions, you risk breaking the steps of the customer journey — and of breaking the customer experience. It’s tough to create a great customer experience or a great customer relationship when you don’t listen to the questions your customer asks and help them move from one step of the journey to the next.

The truth is that you care about customer experience because it literally informs every step in that customer’s journey. You care about search because, for most companies, it represents the first step in that journey. You care about account-based marketing (ABM) because it helps connect you with the specific needs of an individual customer. You care about behavior-based personalization because, well, it does the same thing.

So how can you fix this? It’s simpler than you might think.

Grab your colleagues from another team. Order a pizza or two. Start talking. Start sharing data. Start measuring where you lose your customers along the way. And start working together to fix those breaks.

Customer experience matters for B2B marketers. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say many times that customer experience is queen. For B2B marketers, it’s especially true. So give homage to the queen. Help your team get to know her. And don’t be surprised when she showers you with riches.

Originally posted on Biznology.

Avatar

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.

SearchChat Podcast: Customer Intent is New Again

Alternatively: Chicken Soup for the Customer’s Soul

It’s time to start thinking about the value of intent based marketing differently. The idea itself isn’t new, but now the data is finally there for people to solve their business problems.

What is your customer experience like if you could walk into a diner feeling under the weather, and are immediately offered chicken soup? Online companies don’t have to lose that personal touch. 

You can improve your buyer’s journey by optimizing results to find specific answers to specific questions. But those are hard to predict. Rather than optimizing the result, how can you optimize the experience — the full journey, whatever it might look like? 

These are questions that need answers. Because the reality is: you compete with all the experiences your customers have everywhere online. When a customer goes to Amazon and has a great search experience, they ask — why doesn’t everyone work this way? Your competition isn’t just other B2B companies, it’s Amazon too. High standards and a poor experience will send visitors looking somewhere else — anywhere else.

The data you gain from having a better site search lets you optimize the rest of the experience. Websites can be intelligent when this data is put to work. Do people who buy chicken soup also usually buy herbal tea? Desserts? Your data knows, and your site can make suggestions. Want to make it happen right away? Check out our technology solutions.

0:00 Intro

1:20 Intent based marketing is new again

11:45 Your competition is the whole internet

16:48 Search is intent, fundamentally

19:05 How do you utilize data to improve the customer journey?

29:05 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.

Avatar

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.

Is your site search a guess machine?

Old Time Search

Just past Fish Creek Campground, a gravel, two-track wanders off into the wilderness of Glacier National Park. At the head of the road there are several warning signs about the perils of backcountry travel. Bears. Mountain Lions. Falling trees. There are also unlisted perils — flat tires, dehydration, fire, and the various demons that live in our imagination when we venture into wild places. There’s a lot of unknown down that track but that’s where we’re going, so we drove on.

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.

Site Search is Market Research

The age of digital marketing is defined by data. Data has quickly become one of the most valuable assets a business can have, and businesses are willing to invest a ton of resources into market research and collecting data about target demographics. Yet far too often businesses fail to collect the data that customers willingly give them.

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.

#SEMPOChat: Site Search

Site search is the most underrated and underfunded part of the sales process. Up to 50 percent of customers use site search–but most companies don’t have resources dedicated to improving their search. A significant part of the problem is that many decision makers are confused by site search and don’t know where to start.

In this free 60 minute webinar, four site search experts discuss:

  • The importance and value of site search
  • Ways to assess your company’s site search
  • Approaches to improve your company’s site search

SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur and Chief Strategist Mike Moran have worked in search for decades and join this webinar to share crucial insights on measuring and improving your site search. SoloSegment specializes in measuring site search analytics to help clients measure their site search and use those measurements to significantly improve their conversions and sales.

If you only have 5 minutes to spare, skip ahead to 26:10 where Mike provides two compelling answers about site search value.

Special offer for SEMPO viewers: Try SoloSegment’s Site Search Inspector free, and get 10 percent off if you decide to purchase!

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.

The ROI of Site Search

The ROI of Site Search

The calculation of ROI (Return on Investment) is a critical step of the business decision making process. It can also be the most intimidating step. Even those who sat through Finance 101 and understand the concepts of ROI calculation may not fully understand how to do it in practice. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience in using this tool, especially in calculating the ROI of site search improvements.

Determining what to do and how to make the most money doing it would seem to be reason enough for calculating ROI. But there’s another, almost equally important reason. Communicating the returns on business decisions is the language of business. You’ll need this information to convince the IT and Finance guys to make the investment. But (ironically) many businesses fail to put the proper time, resources, and methodology to determining ROI, and end up allocating their resources poorly. Site search is a great example of this problem.

Even though up to 50 percent of your customers use your site search, I bet you don’t have technical and human resources dedicated to it. That’s something that needs to be remedied. You’re leaving money on the table. You need to build great partnerships with stakeholders from across business functions to change the status quo and you need to be able to express the need for change in terms of value. Fortunately, you don’t have to have an MBA to figure out the value. Here’s the steps you need to be taking in your ROI process.

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.