Why Remote Work Makes B2B Personalization More Challenging – SoloSegment SearchChat (2.2)

In this episode of SoloSegment SearchChat, hosts Tim Peter and SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur dive even deeper into SoloSegment’s new report, “B2B Website Engagement in a Changed World”. Among other topics, Tim and Steve take a look at:

  • How the shift to digital during the pandemic has changed B2B marketing forever
  • Why remote work makes B2B personalization more challenging
  • Why account-based marketing is a business strategy, not a technology
  • And how savvy B2B marketers use their websites to reach customers no matter where they work today… or in the future.

Subscribe to SoloSegment SearchChat

SearchChat 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.

Season 2: Episode 2 Transcript

Hi, and welcome to SoloSegment SearchChat. I’m Tim Peter, in this episode of SoloSegment SearchChat, SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur and I talk about:

  • How the shift to digital during the pandemic has changed B2B marketing forever
  • Why remote work makes B2B personalization more challenging
  • Why account-based marketing is a business strategy, not a technology
  • And how savvy B2B marketers use their websites to reach customers no matter where they work today… or in the future.

All that and more in the latest SoloSegment SearchChat coming at you right about now.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Tim:
Well, hi Steve. How are you?

Steve:
I have to be honest Tim. I’m a little tired. I went on my first business trip this week. Out to Chicago for a couple of days and took the late flight back, rolled in about 1:00 A.M. And I feel it a little bit this morning but other than that, can’t complain.

Tim:
What you’re saying is, you’ve been home for a year and complaining about the fact that I can’t go anywhere and now you finally took a trip. And the first thing you have to say is, “boohoo. I am tired.”

Steve:
Isn’t that human nature? But yeah. No. It is funny. Mike and I were chatting and… Went out to Chicago to see Mike and it was like well, when was the last time we saw one another face-to-face? And I think it was like February of last year. It’s certainly has been 14, 15 months, maybe longer than that.

Tim:
Yeah. That’s crazy.

Steve:
Maybe I can’t count, but yeah. Anyway, you’re right. I should not complain because it was just lovely to be out of the house. It was a great thing.

Tim:
You can always complain to me Steve.

Steve:
Yeah.

Tim:
It’s okay. I’m just having a little fun pulling your pigtails here. Excuse me. Let’s see, we were talking last time about this new report we had on Website Engagement.

Steve:
Right.

Tim:
And one of the things that I thought was really interesting in the report was that it focuses a lot on how things have changed. And especially when we talk about 2020, we all know it was a quote unquote unprecedented year. We saw precedent to change, yadi, yada, yada.

Steve:
True.

Tim:
But also there really was a lot of change. You saw some really dramatic changes in people’s behaviors, in buyer’s behaviors, in the way that businesses run their businesses. And the like and I’d love to hear your thoughts about that.

Steve:
Yeah. Well, it’s almost like if I comment on the things changed, it’s like pointing out the obvious. I think we already all really got… I mean, just look at like the work from home stats, you shared some stuff with me earlier today but I think we all profoundly felt it, right? Our study, I think the data in our studies showed that 46% of people were working from home last year and that was up and I didn’t realize it was so low, but like up from a baseline of 5%.

Tim:
Yeah.

Steve:
Just the fact that that was a real fundamental shift. And what’s really interesting about that is, when I was at IBM, we had this couple, almost a decade, but it was certainly multi-year move out of the office, right?

Tim:
Mhhmm.

Steve:
Because we became location agnostic, right? You’d find the best talent no matter where they were and if they weren’t near an office then they could work from home. And we slung shot back into the office because people are effective in the office.

Tim:
Sure. Right.

Steve:
And there was probably some study that they cited there but back in the 2015 time period, there was this move, and a couple of big companies went this way. Which was, get everybody back in the office because it’s the best way to go. And I think what we’ve proved last year was, it doesn’t matter so much. But what we’re all concerned with these days and work from home is a good example of this, is, what does last year mean in the context of the future, right? Where things are going.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And I think what we have in our learning about work from home, those lessons are going to transfer to a whole bunch of areas, including digital marketing. But if you look at the data, while it was 46% work from home at its peak last year, and some of the prognosticators were saying, “well, that probably could be 20% permanently.”

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And so that is a quadrupling.

Tim:
And whether that’s 20% of people or whether it’s everybody who works from home one day a week or something like that.

Steve:
Right. Yeah. Exactly.

Tim:
Right

Steve:
But just a lot has changed about our notions, about the effectiveness of this thing, the technologies that support it, processes, behaviors, I think just in general, people have got become a lot more comfortable with looking at video screens, even though as I learned over the past couple of days, being with someone in person, not as effective. I think in the long run-

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
We have to have a mix of that. But even if you accept that or prognosticators are wrong by a 100%, that still means work from home is going to double.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And I think the lesson that transfers for almost any discipline but certainly for marketers and I think about investing framework for my finance background because I’m a finance guy by trade. And I would be short on the past right? On all of the techniques and behaviors of the past, I would not invest in those. And where I would belong, right? Where I would be investing is the things we learned from last year. And do we need to triple, quadruple, whatever multiple you choose of our investments and our changes to support those new behaviors, I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what the factor is but I think we definitely demonstrated that there are other ways to do business. And one of the things that’s relevant to digital marketers certainly is that digital went from being pretty important and an accelerating trend to being really important and a trend that just is… it’s here to stay and if you’re missing that boat, you’re missing that boat.

Tim:
Well. And before you go there, because first of all, I think you’re right, obviously, I mean, we’ve talked about this stuff a lot, but the other thing that I think is worth noting is, this 46% working from home or the 20% that they’re projecting may work remotely and the like. Those numbers are actually a little conservative if you’re in B2B, right?

Steve:
Yeah.

Tim:
Because the people you’re selling to most of the time… There are obvious cases, we have clients on the like, who work with people who have manufacturing plants and all. Obviously, the people who were in the manufacturing plants are going to continue to be in the manufacturing plants. But many of the people we work with, many of the people we talk to, many of the people who are looking at the kinds of things that we do are talking to people who work in an office.

Steve:
Yes.

Tim:
And I bet, I’m going to go out on a little limb. That 46% number was of all the respondents to a survey, not just the ones that worked in [inaudible 00:06:55] .

Steve:
If you’re a knowledge worker or if you’re a Deloitte, if you’re Goldman, it was 100%, right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
Those people are just not in the office.

Tim:
To your point of going long on, whether 20% is the right number or 10% is the right number, it probably isn’t 5%. And so going along on that, makes a lot of sense from that perspective.

Steve:
Betting on digital and these changed behavior supported by digital. Yes. You’ll make a ton of money if I were [inaudible 00:07:23] on that boat in the long run.

Tim:
Yeah.

Steve:
By the way, if you feel obligated to say, past results are no [inaudible 00:07:29] for future performance. Thought to your Investment advisor. Sure.

Tim:
No. That’s great. All right. If this is the case, I mean, well, before we go there, are there other trends that we seen over the last year or other things that have come up as a result of more people working from home and the like, that have an impact on people’s ability to do digital marketing more effectively?

Steve:
Yeah. Well, I mean, certainly now, we have what we’ve seen certainly in our data and what this research report supported was that the buyer behaviors are changing and accelerating towards digital. I don’t recall the exact numbers from report I read probably a year or two ago that talked about how much content that B2B buyers were consuming before they made decisions. But when you look at the data and the report that we had put together, it talks about the number of pieces of content, the percentage of visitors who are doing digital, online research. Forrester published a report that showed 82% of buyers look at least five pieces of content from a vendor prior to purchase. And that’s at least, right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
I mean, that’s the basement. And so the behaviors that we see on websites and by the way, we see it on our client’s websites, so that’s the data that we’re seeing. Is that they continue to be these long buying cycles that are supported or that support their budget cycles but it’s this behavior where they’re coming again and again to the website and something like 80% of the information that they need in order to make a purchase decision, is consumed before they even contact the company. Before they raise their hand and say, I’m Steve, and I’m really interest in your stuff and I want to talk to somebody or want to get a demo, right? They’re like 80% of the way there. And when you think about, 61% of these two transactions start online, right? No longer is your sales team, no longer is event marketing, although we all hope that in-person events come back, right? We’re all excited about that.

Steve:
But at the same time, that used to be the start of the journey. And I think that event marketing is going to be just yet another content opportunity that supports a journey again, that likely started online. And so, again and again, we’re seeing… If you talk about the behaviors I would go long on, that I would be investing in in the future, it’s these behaviors that I think are sticking from the past year.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
Which is everything starts digital now, right? There are no longer is, I went to the trade show and the seed got planted and that’s going to nurture. I think that those behaviors are permanently changed. Permanently changed for 100% of the population, no. But for a large part of the population, you bet you.

Tim:
Well, And that gets to a key point. And you and I were talking about this before we started recording. Before we hit the record button. But it’s this interesting thing of when people heal people like you or me or others talk about this, there’s this tendency to assume that everybody’s saying, oh my gosh, this is a hundred percent of… Sorry, there’s a tendency for people to hear that what we’re saying is it’s going to change a hundred percent of everything. And nobody’s actually saying that, what we are saying is, if you knew your business was going to be permanently affected.

Steve:
Right.

Tim:
To the tune of 10% or 15% or 20%.

Steve:
Sure.

Tim:
Right? You’d probably want to do something about that right?

Steve:
Sure.

Tim:
It’s not that a 100% of the people you’ve been selling to will not go to trade shows. It’s not that 100% of the people you’ve been selling to won’t pick up the phone and talk to the salespeople, it’s that a healthy percent and a percent that affects your bottom line won’t.

Steve:
Yeah. No. That’s exactly right. And its what he has. Well, it was 40% of people were working for home last year, it’ll only be 20 or 10%. Right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
But it still has two or three times, four times what it used to be and the same could be said of any marketing tactic that you could run. Last year was probably an outlier for consumption of digital content but it’s not going back to what it was in 2019.

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
And the fact that… And again, we don’t have data on this number, but I can imagine especially for, if you were a knowledge worker in B2B, 100% of your, I wonder if there’s a solution to this problem, probably was done online last year. And I expect that… Again, our data shows 61% of all of these journeys started online last year.

Steve:
And so if people are starting online and have spent so much time in digital, I think we talked about this in the last podcast, which was, the fact that, we now have these expectations of what’s going to happen when we start that journey online. And it often starts with just our expectation is that, hey. If you’re going to collect my data, make sure you have your cookie message and you tell me what you’re going to do with it. But I make that trade for value.

Steve:
I mean, the reason so many people probably click that banner and just ignore it is because they think there’s value in it. They think there’s value in, yeah. You’re going to track my data but deliver to me an experience that’s going to help me on my journey not the journey you’re on. You, the company is on or not some generic journey, but can you use that data in a way that is going to help me, improve my knowledge, help me understand what you’re offering is, what the sources of my pain might be and get me to a solution to the thing that’s my pain.

Steve:
And those were the top three things that we found in this study. Which was, use my data in a respectful way, help me understand the things I need to understand in order to increase my knowledge about the pain and the sources of my pain, and then get me to some solution to my pain. But it’s again, my pain, a personalized solution to my pain and not just some generic statement that might not be relevant to my case.

Tim:
Right. I mean, I know what one answer to this is going to be, but I’m going to ask anyway. If you were talking to companies that are new to this or companies that don’t have experience with it or companies that are maybe a little further, I don’t want to say further behind but earlier in their journey to progress in this way, what would you recommend they do? Where do they start? What do they have to think about?

Steve:
Well, it starts with strategy. And I don’t think it’s like, you’ve got to go hire McKinsey and spend a million dollars figuring this out, I think it starts with a strategy about personalization. Often, any business problem, many people are like, “what’s the product that I have to go look at?” And it might be important to take five minutes and think about a framework for approaching that problem. And so if your problem is, you aren’t able to engage people, personally engage people at a level that is meaningful to them, what are your options? And there are really three elements in my mind about how to approach personalization. And the first is when you know somebody, right? When that person is knowable, that’s kind of an easy use case. There are dozens of technologies, some of them are even free but some of them are low cost, some of them, you can spend a million dollars on.

Steve:
But there are lots of technologies that when you have personal data, because this person has shared it in response to a marketing campaign, because the person is either a current or past customer and you might have information on them, they’re registered, they’re logged in, whatever it is. When you have that personal information, what is the technology and the business processes that you’re going to use to address that person? And it’s important to think about business processes because personalization technology is not magic, right? It requires content to be matched with that person, and so there’s some business processes that have to occur in the background, but that’s the first thing I would think about. Is, where people are knowable and for B2B is generally very few, but where they are knowable, think about what personalization technology you’re going to use to address those folks.

Tim:
Got it.

Steve:
The second area, and especially for B2B is, because so few of those people are knowable, the second piece of your strategy should be, where I can discern some additional data about the individual, how do I address them? And this usually means account-based marketing. And again, just as a caution, I probably say this more often, account-based marketing is not a technology, it is a business strategy, right?

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
It is a business strategy that says, if I can’t know the person, but I might be able to discern something about the company, perhaps understand their industry what information am I going to share with that person so then I can get them to engage in the marketing and engage in sales? And there are technologies that allow you to do that. That’s the second piece. Is, if you can execute account-based marketing business strategy, get a technology that allows you then to use digital, to help further that strategy. And that’s technologies that look at the data stream and can identify, this person is from this physical location, associated with this company, that’s in this industry, now let me serve them some content that’s very specific to pains in that industry and of course the solutions to that pain.

Tim:
Yep.

Steve:
And then the final area is all the rest. Because when you look at the data, very small portion, low single digits, as a percentage of your total visitors are personal identifiable. Maybe another 10, 20% are identifiable by company slash industry, that still leaves 80%, 70% of visitors who are unidentifiable. And the question for you then is, what do you do then? And of course, I’m not going to make any additional shameless plugs for our GuideBox technology. But we have a technology that does look at anonymous, visitor data behavior to try to figure out what’s going on there. And so what other things can you get from your data stream and then what business processes are you going to use in addition to the technology to help engage those folks and progress them along their journey?

Tim:
That makes sense. And not to revisit last week’s episode or should be last week, two weeks ago episode in gross detail. But I mean, obviously everything we started this conversation talking about. We only expect those trends to accelerate. When you talk about the number of people who you can identify, particularly with more people working at home, particularly with more people connecting through their own setup with people on mobile, with browser changes, with regulatory changes and the like.

Steve:
Right.

Tim:
The number of people who you cannot identify. The folks listening to this should only expect that number who you cannot identify to grow. I wanted to make sure I didn’t do too many negatives there. That was…

Steve:
Yeah. No. I think that’s exactly right. I mean, this problem is only going to become more acute. I think part of the way companies will address this, is to up their first party data game. In the past, the easy way to solve this problem was just to go out and buy some data source that-

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
That was a big library of data. And of course, regulatory changes as well are going to limit the availability of that information over time. And the browser changes, this death of cookies future is going to limit the ability of, even if you could get that data for it to be meaningful, because of course cookies are the way you connect people. And while this is I think the alarm system is sounding most loudly in the ad space so if you’re an ad tech or you’re a big buyer of ads, that’s the place that I think the most immediate pain is going to be felt.

Steve:
But if you look at them downstream, once you get people on your site right? How do you identify them? How do you track this person was here on Tuesday, now they’re back here on Thursday, how do you track that? And it’s through the browser technologies that relies upon cookies. And so I think we’re very… Well, again, the most acute pain, the closest to the cashflow pain is now in the ad business. Marketers are beginning to realize that yeah. This has some very real implications. And so refocusing our efforts on gathering first party data, I think is an important part of any strategy because where you do have the ability to engage somebody and get them to give you your information as a trade for value maybe for a white paper or that sort of thing, you bet. Get that and keep it, because over time, this third-party data or lack of third-party data is going to become a big problem.

Tim:
No. Makes perfect sense. Well, and I think you came up with the title of the episode today. From a certain perspective, and you said, ABM is not a technology, it’s a business strategy, right? I mean, it’s this whole idea of what I love about what you were just talking about is, it is very often and let’s face it, we make it a piece of our tech. We like when people look for tools. But too often, what people do when they have a problem is they go well, what’s a tool that can solve this for me rather than saying, what is the strategy? And then saying, what are the tools that I need to enable that strategy.

Steve:
Yeah.

Tim:
We want you to get to the part where you say, hey. What’s the tool?

Steve:
Yeah. You bet. Yeah. No. Absolutely. And I mean, that’s one of the reasons we titled our report Website Engagement, right? The challenge is about Website Engagement. And we didn’t say the best personalization strategy, it’s just like, because you really have to go back to the source and know what is the source of the business problem and then what is the business strategy that is going to solve it? And the technology is the tool, right? It’s the thing that helps you then achieve the business strategy. Because again, everybody’s digital, right? Majority of our interactions right now are digital but yeah. You really do have to start with that business strategy. And again, it doesn’t have to be some grand thought. I just outlined, here’s three ways you should be thinking about-

Tim:
Of course.

Steve:
Maybe instead of strategy, frameworks, right? Just create a framework, right? That’s going to allow you to approach the problem and that’s how you get started. But have the framework, don’t have the, I need a personalization technology, I’d love to sell you one but at the same time, what is your pain? Where is your pain? Because if I sell you something that doesn’t solve the pain, that doesn’t help you progress your business, neither of us are going to be very happy.

Tim:
Right. So the key takeaway, it sounds like for this episode is, make sure you use the right framework and then buy GuideBox.

Steve:
That’s exactly right. And then send me your money. Yeah. No. Absolutely. And this rounds out I think our Website Engagement Report Discussion. And we started back at the beginning of this discussion, just talking about, some of the broader things that are happening around data privacy, around this acceleration of digital we talked a little bit more about that today and how are the changes over the past year going to stick? And I don’t think anybody can, it will be a fool’s errand to try to say, 30% of the change is going to stick. We know some portion of it

Tim:
Right.

Steve:
Going to change, right? Stick. And I think your point is a really good one. The one you made earlier, which is if I told you that your business was going to shift in a certain direction by 10%, you’d pay attention right? We could quibble on whether it’s 5%, 10% or 50%, but it’s going to shift and it’s a shift that’s already been occurring and if you were behind the earlier portion of this shift, I think not only are we going to see that 10% or whatever the number is but that’s going to accelerate, right? Because change begets change. It’s just not like change occurs and then it stops. And I think as the people who do business with us expect these more personalized experiences, more engaging experiences, they’re just going to expect more, right?

Steve:
Amazon didn’t mail books and then stop, right? They mailed books and then they just marching through the world really doing much better at almost every product category than anybody else and the reason is because the expectations of their customers shifted and the expectations of their customers accelerated and they matched it and they’re winning. And that’s I think a lesson for all of us, right? How are we going to take advantage of this shift and how are we going to use the acceleration of that change in order to win in the marketplace?

Tim:
Sounds like a perfect place to leave it, Steve. Before we wrap up, I do want to remind people, we will put a link to the report that we’ve referenced a couple of times a year in the show notes but you can go there directly by going to https://SoloSegment.com/website-engagement. Again, that’s https://SoloSegment.com/website-engagement. With that, Steve, any last words of wisdom?

Steve:
No. I think all the wisdom is drained out. Thanks very much Tim.

Tim:
Thank you very much Steve. Great talking with you and we’ll talk to you next time.

Steve:
Take care.

Website Engagement in a Changed World: SoloSegment SearchChat Podcast (2.1)

In the first episode of SoloSegment SearchChat’s second season, hosts Tim Peter and SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur look at our new report, B2B Website Engagement in a Changed World. Tim and Steve explore the stats that show how important digital has become for B2B companies during — and following — the pandemic. And Steve explains how B2B enterprises can use their own data to improve customer experience and create positive outcomes for their website visitors.

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.

SoloSegment SearchChat Season 2 Episode 1 – Transcript

Tim Peter: [00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to SoloSegment SearchChat. I’m Tim Peter. In this episode of SoloSegment SearchChat, SoloSegment CEO, Steve Zakur and I take a look at the new SoloSegment website engagement report with a focus on how you can use personalization and content recommendations to improve engagement for your website visitors.

We dive into the stats that show how B2B buyers use your website to learn more about your products and services and how you can use content personalization to improve the experience that they have. All that more on the latest SoloSegment SearchChat, coming at you right about now.

Steve, how are you?

Steve Zakur: [00:01:00] I’m doing really well, Tim. How’s it going to your world?

Tim Peter: [00:01:03] It is a little slice of heaven as always

Steve Zakur: [00:01:07] A light at the end of the tunnel on COVID means we’ll be out of the jails we’ve been in soon.

Tim Peter: [00:01:13] I am telling you, , I think our last episode with the final episode of season one, this is season two of SearchChat for joining us.

But I think our last episode of season one was right before the world shut down. And yeah, obviously that played a role in why season one…

Steve Zakur: [00:01:33] It was a good day ending point as we rebirth re rebirth in our rebirth. Right. As he burst. Yeah. Burst.

Tim Peter: [00:01:40] I like it. Well, welcome to season two and , we’re back. I’m glad to be chatting with you once again. I think we’ve got a lot of cool stuff to talk about over the over the next, , handful of weeks and months and the like yeah. And , Steve, you and I were talking before the show about this new research report it’s almost like we just put together about website engagement in a changed world, and we’ll give people the URL for that later. It will be in the show notes of course, but, , there were some really fascinating findings in the report that I think are going to be really relevant to the folks listening. So, , what, what, when you look at the report, like what jumped out at you as, wow. That’s, that’s crazy. And people need to know.

Steve Zakur: [00:02:22] Well, I, , I think when you look at the context of this report, right, , we’ve been through this year of COVID , we certainly have seen in our business as providers of, , digital marketing technologies, right. We have seen an acceleration of, of company’s appetite for that digital transformation.

I mean, there are, , for better, for worse, there were a lot of laggards out there that, , weren’t making the shift, were relying upon kind of human resources, if you will, to drive their businesses. And COVID kind of forced them to think about how people work in different ways, of course, but also how does digital factor more into their day to day?

So I think one of the new things we discovered was shift to digital is accelerating. But also what we found out was how much, some of the fundamental truths have not changed, right. That, , , people expect. And I think the figure was 80%, right? People in their B2B experiences in their professional lives expect the same kind of customized experiences that they want in their personal lives. And so that’s actually a fundamental truth that why the number might have increased. Really hasn’t changed all that much.

Tim Peter: [00:03:31] Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, if you think about it, , one of the big myths of B2C versus B2B, and it’s not that there’s no truth. It’s to what I’m about to say rather.

But it’s this idea that, , people think when you’re selling to a business that it’s completely different from anything else. And in fact, you’re still selling to a human being, right. I mean, obviously that human being is part of a buying process. Obviously there are more human beings involved or that they have to jump through various, hoops to make that happen.

Steve Zakur: [00:04:02] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and you have to engage that person , I’ve done B2B selling for many years in many different contexts. And one of the numbers that did surprise me was, , like, most B2B purchase decisions require a six to 10:00 people. So right now I knew it was a lot, I didn’t know it was 6-10.

But , that’s what the research shows that there’s a lot of, , in addition to the person, who’s the decision maker, right? There are a lot of influencers and certainly you’re dealing with procurement and finance and all these other organizations. But , what’s interesting about that is as we think about personalized experiences, , in the consumer context, it’s. Well, what does Tim want? And what’s Tim’s relationship with, and what’s his context and what is his desire, right. And now you’re actually having to address many different contexts, many different goals.

And, , I just think about like two basic ones, right. , maybe the, the business person, right? The person who has decision making authority , they want increased engagement on the website. They want more conversions. They want more revenue. And while the person in procurement wants those things to, they also want, , a great price and lots of good value, et cetera. And so, as you’re thinking about website engagement, it’s not only that you really have to step up your personalization game to meet those expectations, but you also now have to deal with, , what we in marketing called many different personas.

And as if that first task wasn’t hard enough, right? How do you engage people on your website? Now you have to engage multiple personas for the same kind of deal, same transmit.

Tim Peter: [00:05:38] Well, and especially depending on, as you said, what they care about, but also the content they engage with. I think the other thing that was interesting about that stat that you just talked about, about six to 10 different decision-makers is that, , the research shows that each one is independently making use of a half dozen pieces of content or more as part of that process. Right? Some of those, there may be some overlap, but on lots of those there aren’t. So if somebody is coming and looking at your product or coming and looking at your service, they may be looking at, , multiple pieces of content about the same thing, but how do how to show the right one to the right, exactly where they are.
And I think that’s something that’s. , always, always a tough thing to do. Now you talk about this a lot that obviously a solution that people look at when trying to solve for this problem. Is ABM, right. And account based marketing and account based marketing has a really cool tool and a really useful tool, but it’s got its limitations from time to time, , can you, can you talk about that a little bit?

Steve Zakur: [00:06:44] Yeah. , the, when, when you think about the journey that marketing operations or marketing managers go on to. Figure out what technology is now going to help them meet this expectation. , they often start with either technology they already have because a lot of systems have some sort of personalization technology built in, or maybe they go buy personalization technology.

And it also, it starts with, let me get this personalization technology and where I have some personal data. I can use that to fuel the engine and they run into the harsh reality. That is. And we’ve looked at this data for our customers, , three to 5% of website visitors to B2B websites are identifiable and that’s for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes it’s because the buying cycles are long, cookies expire. So you can’t kind of re-identify the person when they return. I think it’s largely due to many folks who lurk in the dark. , there’s kind of a disincentive to raise your hand and identify yourself, right? Cause that you’re going to get hammered by the emails and the phone calls. everything else. Because

Tim Peter: [00:07:49] Wait, you mean B2B sales people…?

Steve Zakur: [00:07:51] I have been guilty of this myself. I must admit. I was a matter of fact, I read this morning and I specifically put in the CRM, do not contact for four days. Cause I know, , I need this person, , first this person doesn’t want me to go hunt them down after 30 seconds after they hit the submit button.
But also, I mean, it’s not good sales process. Right. They need to, , internalize and think about the thing that they’re looking at. So we’ll let them do that. But, but yeah, so there’s that disincentive, right? , when do you want Steve calling you? And the reality is you want sales people, you wanna engage with them much later in the process after you have kind of considered it, et cetera.
Not to say, though, that it’s important or it could be meaningful for both the company and the individual to get engaged perhaps earlier than they’re comfortable with and not having the personal information on 95, 97% of your visitors. That really is where ABM came in. , it was this kind of reality in the marketplace that there was this gap that something’s gotta be done for all these people lurking in the darkness.

And that’s where you saw account-based marketing technologies emerge now account based marketing. Isn’t new, right. We’ve been doing account-based marketing since the fifties. Right. , for 70 years. Yeah. But , recently there, yeah. There has been this gap and these technologies, , what they do of course is they look at the data stream on the website and they try to figure out what the physical location is of the person. And if you can determine the physical location and that physical location happens to be associated with a company, know you connect those two dots and you say, I’m going to start. Yeah. , sending this visitor messages about that are specific to that account, or alternatively, maybe specific to the industry that, that person.

And so account based marketing begins to fill, , that 95%. Whole in, in your knowledge about visitors and we’ve found, , again, based upon data that our customers have shared with us about 15 to 20% of the, of the website, visitors are addressable by by ABM technologies. But that’s a pre COVID number.

And they all said, , because it’s, location-based, , I’m currently sitting at my home. And so you don’t know about my, my home in Connecticut is not associated with solo segment. And so it would be hard for me to be addressed by these technologies. And these companies saw a significant dip in the utility of that technology, although it’s coming back and it’s coming back pretty fast as people of course move back into the office.

Tim Peter: [00:10:16] Sure, sure. Which, which we know. We know many people are gonna end up back in the office. We know many people are going to end up working from home. We know many people are going to be in a hybrid scenario. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s not, , I think, I think, and I’m sure you’re going to talk about this in a moment, but I think it’s the situation where , you can’t be prepared for the either or of, oh, there’s going to be people who work in the office a hundred percent of time, or, oh, there’s going to be people who work from home a hundred percent of the time. It’s going to be a bit of an and , but it doesn’t, it doesn’t fill that entire gap that you’re talking about.

Steve Zakur: [00:10:50] Absolutely. And, and, , we, we kind of figure on average, it’s about 85% of those visitors who really are truly anonymous and that’s going to be. what you’ve got to crack the code on is how do you engage those 85?

Tim Peter: [00:11:03] And that’s for all of those reasons, right? It’s not just work from home. It’s not just cookies.
It’s not just, ad blockers or things along those lines. It’s all of this added together?

Steve Zakur: [00:11:12] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, , you mentioned ad-blockers, that’s a, that’s a great point. , we often think about like the the exogenous factors within the industry or within the software industry that is or within the regulatory environment as being kind of the villains in our ability to engage.
But part of it, I mean, , all that stuff right. Is based upon , kind of the desires of the humans, right? The people, people don’t want their privacy trampled on, don’t want their data trampled on. And so , not only do you see the challenges in the regulatory and software industry, but you also see what’s happening, but the people are doing right.

They’re using ad blockers as a perfect example. , people are learning how to delete their cookies. Our study shows that almost 50% of people are deleting cookies every 30 days in their browsers, I was like, whoa. , that used to be something nobody knew how to do. And now. Apparently half the people are doing it.
So it’s those sorts of things that are going to impact the ability to address those.

Tim Peter: [00:12:15] Right. By the way, I, I, I feel bad. , comedy is always timing and the timing on this is completely lost, but, , I, I admit I missed a part of that because I was looking up the word exogenous. But I get what you mean, right? The external value.

Steve Zakur: [00:12:30] I used the big word. I’m sorry.

Tim Peter: [00:12:33] I feel like we’re going to have the SAT question.

Steve Zakur: [00:12:36] They’re coming up to this.

Tim Peter: [00:12:41] Perfect. Perfect. All right. So. So, , you kind of set up the scenario where you’ve got for all kinds of reasons, internal reasons, external reasons, exogenous reasons that, , people, people don’t know, marketers don’t know who the folks are on their, their website. And it really poses the question of how can organizations personalize the website experience when they don’t know who the person is 85% of the time.

Steve Zakur: [00:13:12] I mean, that is the big question. And , it is at its heart part of , a question we pose and it’s very interesting. Several folks have mentioned this to us. It’s this, , personalization, privacy kind of paradox, , can these two things coexist together and , at the heart of it, , it’s getting people to raise their hands, getting people to say I’m ready to engage.

And so there’s no trick. There’s no trick. What you have to do is to present kind of the compelling case that the pain that they’re feeling can be solved with the solution that you’re providing. And I think the quicker and the more compelling and the more compelling way you can do that, of course, you’re going to make those conversions.
And one of the great challenges, especially in large enterprise companies, so if you have tens or hundreds of thousands of pieces of content, it is likely you have the right piece of content to convince every visitor. Right.

Tim Peter: [00:14:11] Right.

Steve Zakur: [00:14:12] So it’s not a content problem generally. It’s not a content problem. The problem is it’s a findability problem.
Right. So how do you connect this person with the right content? Now, if you have an awesome search engine that’s one way you can do it, right. They can ask the question that I am searching for this thing. Please present it to me. , that is a place where a lot of companies honestly do not invest a dime.

Right. They see, they see searches cost. They think of search as Google and they don’t understand the value prop of, , searchers are generally your best opportunities, right? 87% more likely to convert something like at least 43% more likely to buy and sometimes much more than that. And so search is the first place you can make your content more find-able because again, I bet you have the answer on your website now

Tim Peter: [00:15:06] Right. Yeah, of course.

Steve Zakur: [00:15:07] So. Set aside search, everybody’s navigating your website. , now the question is, how do you in real time figure out, oh, well this, I might not know it’s Tim, but based upon the content that Tim is looking at how do I figure out what additional content might help him progress on his journey and move along?
I mean, for years we’ve done up by, we marketers have done. , related product links on websites, on pages and those sorts of things. So it is possible to do that manually to have every content owner, , tag their content in a way that that allows , maybe some sort of related products thing to guide people along.

Tim Peter: [00:15:50] Sure. Of course.

Steve Zakur: [00:15:51] But the reality is. People do that very poorly. It was there was one study that was done recently, actually, not recently, it’s now about five years old, but it but it shows that, , people who tag content disagree with themselves about 30% of the time. So not necessarily the right way.

Tim Peter: [00:16:09] That’s like within a two week period, right? I mean, it’s not, it’s not like they’re tagging this content and really they’re coming back to a year later it’s like, they’re tagging the content. They’re coming back to it a couple of weeks later and going, I would tag it like this, and it’s not the same as what they’ve done.

Steve Zakur: [00:16:22] Correct.

Tim Peter: [00:16:22] And that’s just human nature. I mean, we, we’re not card catalogs.

Steve Zakur: [00:16:28] Correct.

Tim Peter: [00:16:28] We’re not computers. It’s not how we think.

Steve Zakur: [00:16:31] So, , what’s left. So what’s left is well, there’s a lot of data, right, right now. And , 10 years ago, it was really hard to discern what that data means and it’s getting easier.

And , when we think about how do you help people with this findability problem that is to say, how do you help visitors on your website find the right content. Well, we’re really thinking about is, is, , three sets of data, right? What is the intent of them? And, , when somebody is looking at a piece of content, they might not be able to tell you what their specific intent was when you can kind of discern what, what people who look at this page as in general, what their intent is, because you can look at the reasons people have come to that in the past. And , some of that’s done by your search engine, right? Your search engine sends people to pages, but also gives you some insight into why people are on those pages.

And so, , we think of, if you can harvest this intent data that exists on your website, you don’t need a third party for this, but if you can look at this intent data on your website, that’s one thing that can clue you into, , the why of the, why they’re there.
And the second thing we look at of course, is the content itself. , there are, , you don’t have to rely upon the people, to the content owners to tag the content on any longer, because today there are so many technologies that can essentially read , especially electronic content can read it very effectively and , you can do topical analysis on it.

You can do industry analysis, a lot of different things you can imagine you could do with that content. Again, give you some sense of why are people on this website and now what are they looking at? What are they interested in? And and then the final piece of the, the equation is actually the visits themselves of all the people over time, because , for anybody who’s ever looked at, , reports about paths through websites, there are as many paths through websites as there are people on the website. Right,

Tim Peter: [00:18:22] Right..

Steve Zakur: [00:18:22] Yeah. They’re all kind of, , snowflake unique animals. But of course there are patterns in that data and there are patterns in that data, especially when you look at all your conversion moments. And then for large enterprise B2B, it’s primarily things like download the white paper, look at the case, study, contact forms, those sorts of things. But , there are patterns in the journeys that lead to that point. And if you can discern somebody on that journey early enough, Well, now you have an , an opportunity to influence that journey, perhaps intercept them before they abandon and move them along.

Because the goal of course is to help people discover that content that demonstrates that you are the solution to their problem, so that instead of raising their hand in a month or two months or their second visit, third visit fourth of the fifth visit that you get them to raise their hand. Now. And share their information so that you can put them now, move them into that bucket, which is odd this is a personal person with personal information that we can now actually engage and market to.

Tim Peter: [00:19:29] No, that’s cool. That’s cool. So, Steve, I’m gonna set you up here to do a little commercial. How would one do it?

Steve Zakur: [00:19:35] How would that do that Tim? Well, some of our customers do that with our products actually the, all of our customers do that with our products.

So So, , I talked about search and navigation modalities, and I talked about them because you really do have to consider both. Now. I think it’s, it’s kind of most common for us as marketers to think about. , the navigator on the website, the person who lands on a page and how do they move along and engage with the content and get to the next thing.

Right? We talk about these visitor journeys and personas and those sorts of things. And that’s what we’re trying to do with our guide box product is exactly that right? To see, to look at the data stream. Some of the data I talked about earlier to look at those data streams. And even though we don’t know anything about the person themselves, Look at the behaviors and through the understanding of those behaviors and of behaviors that lead to conversions, guide people to those positive outcomes.

And by the way, it’s not only positive outcomes for the company, right. It’s positive outcomes for them because they have pain and they need to be it to be solved.

Tim Peter: [00:20:36] Right. I mean, one of the reasons we personalize is to actually create better experiences for customers. Yes. We want to create better experiences for customers because they had lots of good things happen.

Like they buy from us and they tell their friends and their family and their fans and followers all about doing all that kind of stuff. But it doesn’t happen if they don’t have a good experience at the first place, if they don’t actually accomplish what they’re trying. So that makes total sense.

Steve Zakur: [00:20:59] Absolutely.

And , I talked about search earlier and this is kind of the stepchild that I think a lot of folks need to focus on. We have a product called SearchBox and , it helps make search better, no matter what search engine you’re using, because a lot of the problems with search are not the search engine.

It’s not the people who are managing the search engine. It’s not the content, right. It is actually feedback from customers, from users, from visitors on the website. About their experience. And if you look at the data streams, both of what’s happening in search and what happens after a search, you can gain a lot of insight into what makes search successful.

And by using that data using that data, feeding that data back into your search engine, you can automatically make search better. And I think I mentioned this a little bit earlier. I mean, searchers are more likely to do business with you. Because if you think about it, they’ve been frustrated by they’re looking at this site. They can’t find something. I mean, if you go to that search bar, instead of going back to Google, that means you’re a dedicated, committed individual. And so there’s a lot of value in, in making search better. And so that’s why we encourage folks, , If you don’t need our SearchBox product, you think you can do better on your own.

Absolutely. Go for it. Make your search engine better because there is gold in those searchers and searchers. And if they’re frustrated , they’re going to go away and now your competitors get shot at right.

Tim Peter: [00:22:23] Right. Makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. Steve that’s great stuff. I mean, any last thoughts you want to leave folks with, I’m just looking at the time, it’s time to wrap up.

Steve Zakur: [00:22:34] Yeah. , I think it’s, I think that there, , kind of the big thought. For, , now that we’re in season two and kind of returning to this thought of engagement, we certainly have to reflect upon, , what’s gone on in the past year, as far as the business environment, especially the digital business environment and , I’m going on my first business trip a Monday.

So I’ll be like in Chicago for three days, it’s going to be kind of strange. Yeah. But But, , we are going to be getting back to it and we’re going to be getting back on planes and seeing people and back into the office. But I do think that, , fundamentally, , digital is here to stay.

I think while the zoom calls will go down , video is going to be an important part of how we communicate and. , I think websites, we all thought they were important before. But I think this notion of digital engagement is going to be increasingly important. And by the way, we see it in our numbers. Right. We see, , the boards that we’re doing with our clients is increasing. So, , this is, this is the big thought it’s if you were behind before and you haven’t already started to accelerate your digital transformation , you at least have to get ahead of your peers in the industry, because I think people have religion on this and they’re moving and and the laggards are no longer going to have the ability to kind of make it up with humans. I think that digital is definitely something that folks have to address.

Tim Peter: [00:23:57] Sounds like a perfect place to wrap up. I would like to say just another quick commercial, , if anybody wants to learn more about website engagement in a changed world and some of the stats that Steve has been referencing today, what I encourage you to check out SoloSegment’s new report, “Website engagement in a changed world,” looking at how handy that is, which you can find at SoloSegment.com/website-engagement. And we’ll post a link to that in the show notes again, that is SoloSegment.com/website-engagement.

Steve, thank you as always for great discussion. I’ll look forward to catching up with you here on SearchChat next time. Have a great rest of the day.

Steve Zakur: [00:24:35] Thanks. You too, Tim.

Tim Peter: [00:24:46] SearchChat is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company. Make your search better and learn more at SoloSegment.com.

If you liked the show, please go ahead and subscribe to us. You can find our episodes SoloSegment.com/podcast or on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher radio, Google podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. You can also find us on Facebook at facebook.com/SoloSegment. On Twitter using the Twitter handle @SoloSegment. Or you can drop us an email at info@SoloSegment.com. Again, that’s info@SoloSegment.com. With that, my name is Tim Peter. I hope you have a great rest of the week and we’ll look forward to talking with you next time on SearchChat. Take care, everybody. .