In 2013, I saw my first demo of onsite personalization. My team was working with SmarterHQ, a pioneer in cross-channel personalization. At the time, they were largely known as an email remarketing platform. But behind the scenes, their product team was testing some really powerful tech with an athletic retailer. The SmarterHQ platform tracked buyer behavior — from browsing to purchasing — and used this data to display recommended products and curate highly custom homepages.
After I saw the demo, I played around with the website, perusing yoga gear, checking out shoes and more. I wanted to see how the SmarterHQ platform was customizing my site experience as they learned more about me.
This emerging tech had me hooked. And since then, personalization has become pervasive across B2C sites. Loft.com recommends product sizes based on past purchases. Spotify curates daily playlists based on the music I’ve listened to in the past. Starbucks sends customers emails with deals and rewards based on their order history. Since that initial demo six years ago, consumer personalization has become so common that I don’t even give it a second thought.
While B2C personalization continues to develop and improve, the B2B world has been slow to follow suit. Yes, B2B marketers have quickly adopted account-based marketing (ABM) strategies. We see personalized tokens in emails. Email segmentation has definitely improved. But is this level of personalization truly helping our customers? When a B2C brand tells me I should probably go down a size in the jeans I’m viewing, that’s actually really helpful. But when a B2B brand uses my name in an email and mentions my job title? Eh, it’s not that helpful.
From ordering home goods on Amazon to binge watching the latest Netflix hit, your customers are inundated with personalized experiences. It’s no longer a question of when B2B buyers will expect onsite personalization. They already do. Now, it’s a question of when will B2B brands catch up with onsite personalization.
Let’s take a look at how you can get started with personalization today. Before we dig into your personalization to-do list, let’s take a look at how a few businesses are getting ahead of the curve with personalization.
Vyond, a DIY video animation platform, sells to both SMBs and enterprises. They offer a self-service platform geared toward SMBs as well as services and more advanced features for larger companies. Since enterprise customers expect more customization and higher quality videos, Vyond knows larger businesses have a better experience with their product when they purchase add-on services.
But because Vyond’s standard pricing page featured the self-service platform first, they weren’t getting sales conversations with larger businesses. These enterprises would sign up for the option that didn’t fit their needs, resulting in customer churn. While this was a problem for enterprise sales, they didn’t want to alienate SMBs by emphasizing higher-cost options.
To solve this dilemma, Vyond turned to Evergage’s personalization platform. Using account data to segment SMBs and enterprises, they created separate experiences. SMBs dynamically saw “pricing” and a “sign up” call to action, while enterprises saw “solutions” and a call to action directing them to “schedule a call”
By providing more curated experiences, Vyond was able to help both customer segments explore their needs. This resulted in broader product adoption with enterprise customers.
You may be thinking, “Really, Citrix? They’re giant! Of course they have a great personalization story.” But one of the reasons I love this example is that it shows how you can start small and win big with onsite personalization.
Citrix offers a wide range of solutions to help business create digital workspaces. While Citrix is a product company, they also develop business systems that are unique to their customers’ specific needs. Understanding common business processes and scenarios for specific industries helps them earn trust and win business.
Historically, every visitor to Citrix.com landed on the same homepage. But to get ahead, their marketing team knew they needed to create personalized experiences. Rather than creating a complex personalization model, Citrix started with industry segmentation.
Using a third-party marketing data engine called Clearbit, Citrix was able to segment both known and unknown visitors by industry. They used this data to serve industry-specific content to unique visitors. To start, they displayed an industry-specific hero image and CTA on the home page. Seems like a simple solution, right? However, the results were top-notch:
- 30% increase in hero banner clicks
- 10% increase in page views per session
- 7% decrease in bounce rate
Ultimately, this personalization pilot helped customers find the content they were looking for, boosting site engagement and conversions.
To learn more about Citrix’s personalization journey and other similar stories, check out Clearbit’s Data-Driven Marketing Guide — they get in-depth with examples and how-tos (and you don’t even have to give them your email address ?).
You’ve probably noticed AI chatbots popping up across thousands of B2B sites in the past year. You may even have chat on your site. Market research focused on Millennial and Gen Z behavior continues to find that people really don’t want to talk on the phone. In fact, analysts now refer to these as “Generation Mute.” For much of the last decade, chat has been on the rise in online retailers and customer support portals. So it’s no surprise that B2B has entered the game.
But chat is more than a doorway to customer conversations. Chatbots offer a wealth of personalization potential. Plus, consumers are used to poor and impersonal chatbot experiences, so if you can deliver personalization right from the get-go, there’s a good chance you’ll exceed their expectations.
Take Segment for example. Segment is a customer data infrastructure company. They help their clients clean, store and better utilize data to create great customer experiences.
But like Citrix, their journey with personalization and chat isn’t overly complex. Chat started out as a great source of lead generation for Segment. They’d use it to cast the net and collect plenty of leads. But to improve lead quality, they wanted to amplify chat’s impact. Using Clearbit and Drift, they were able to provide custom experiences — even for first-time visitors.
Clearbit identified company name and information, while Drift displayed the custom messages. Personalization included directly addressing the company name and tailoring messaging to product-company fit. Using data like company industry and size, they could proactively tell visitors when they knew their product had benefited similar businesses.
Drift reports that Segment’s chat personalization increased chat engagement (CTA clicks) by 5X and increased conversations by 2X. Personalization helped chat become the #1 source of qualified leads for Segment.
How can you turn personalization ideas into action?
What are the common themes of these three examples? Data and technology. Each business used the right data and the right technologies to deliver tailored experiences. As you begin your journey with onsite personalization, data and technology will be at the center of your strategy. But they also might be your biggest hurdles. In fact, 53% of businesses report they don’t have the right data to execute onsite personalization, and 59% believe they don’t have the correct technologies.
Vyond, Citrix and Segment used either a third-party personalization platform, a third-party data source or both. You may also have to look beyond your current technology stack and data sources to achieve personalization. But first, let’s look at what you can achieve with your current data and technologies.
Let’s assume you have a CMS, CRM and marketing automation platform — all common platforms for a medium-to-large B2B company. If you have these, you’re probably equipped to launch a personalized onsite campaign.
First, you’ll need a CMS that allows you to display personalized content.
If you have an enterprise CMS like Sitecore, you should have access to personalization features that allow you to set rules for when specific users see certain content. If you don’t have an enterprise CMS, your marketing automation platform should allow you to host landing pages with personalized elements. We’re all for better landing page experiences, but we highly encourage businesses that are $10M+ to invest in a CMS or automation platform that allows for true onsite personalization.
Next, let’s look at CRM and Marketing Automation.
Are you capturing data with these systems that would allow you to create the segments you need? If industry is important to your customers, are you tracking their industry? If not, you’ll need to add custom fields to store this information. Assess your CRM and marketing automation tools to ensure you’re capturing the data points you’ll need to tailor personalization that your customers will find helpful.
Next, you need to ensure your data and technologies are connected.
Let’s say you have Sitecore, Salesforce and Pardot. These tools have the features you need to facilitate personalization and the data you need to create personalization segments. You’re good to go, right? Not quite. You still need to ensure these systems are properly integrated, so the data segments from Salesforce and Pardot can trigger personalization actions in Sitecore. Fortunately, Sitecore offers a connector to help you facilitate this integration.
Finally, let’s examine how you could implement a campaign with these technologies.
OK, so let’s go back to Citrix. The way they provided experiences to industries is something you could do thanks to Sitecore and Salesforce.
- In Salesforce, you’ve been tagging industries to accounts for years to help your BDRs send more personalized emails.
- Luckily, you can leverage this data in Pardot. You’ll need to ensure the industry field appears on the Contact record as well as the Account record in Salesforce. Then, simply create a custom field in Pardot to map industry data to the Prospect record.
- Add “industry” to all relevant Pardot forms to ensure you’re gathering this data in the future.
- Using an automation rule, you can both retroactively and continually add users to the Industry Segments.
- Since Sitecore and Pardot are integrated, you can leverage these segments in Sitecore engagement rules. Your engagement rule will look something like this:
- If visitor IS Healthcare Segment, then display Healthcare Banner
Voila! you’ve set up your first personalization campaign.
While Citrix used a third-party data set to provide personalized experiences to both known and unknown visitors, we’ve used the same logic. Using your existing technologies and data, you can launch personalization pilots.
If your business is investing heavily in personalization and you can add a third-party data source, go for it! If not, consider running a pilot like this. It’ll improve your engagement rates and help you build a case for getting more budget to improve personalization.
B2B companies know they need to create more personalized campaigns. It’s easy to get stymied by the blockers and lose your momentum. But take a step back. You’ll likely gain a clearer idea of opportunities you can act on now. Whether you’re creating a personalization strategy, exploring technologies or launching your first campaign, you’re on the right track. At the moment, not many B2B marketers are focused on personalization. By researching your options, you’re already one step ahead.