In B2B Marketing, Personalization and Relevancy Must be the Same

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Remember back in 2010 when you got your first email from a brand that knew your first name automatically and it gave you all the feels? I still remember my first “Hello Randy!” marketing email. It felt so personal, didn’t it?

But then, as with everything cool and new, it quickly became the norm. We figured out merge fields, the magic was revealed and those initial “ooh” and “ahh” sensations we first felt left us in a hurry. Fast-forward to today, and personalization is still a key goal in marketing. It could even be argued that it’s grown in importance, as data has become more accessible and actionable.

But… do you really understand personalization? What if I told you that relevancy is actually at the heart of the personalization you need today in your marketing? It’s true, and here’s why:

Merge Text Fields are the Bare Minimum

First, don’t get me wrong. I have zero beef with merge fields and it’s still cool to log in to my Netflix account, for example, and see that familiar salutation with my name on the screen. But it’s what comes after the hello that can make me feel like the VIP of customers and, even more importantly, provide me with real value.

For example, my most recent email from the company said, “Hey Randy!” Then, what followed were content suggestions that were right up my alley. Not only is it intuitive and makes me feel valued as a customer, but it is also super useful. It saves me time, and guides me toward really interesting stuff I may never have known about otherwise. The other benefit is that what comes after the greeting in my Netflix account is going to be very different from what comes after the greeting in your account because we’re different people with different tastes and the company knows that. They get me. So, unless your kid or spouse logs in to your account and royally screws up your algorithm, it should be totally relevant to you and your interests.

The Personalization Progression

When you think of personalizing your marketing, think of it like a waterfall. When you know a customer’s name, you’re at the top. But as you learn more about them and progress downward, your personalization efforts gain momentum. You’ll likely discover their role next, then their company name and their industry. You can also look at previous behaviors like what content they consumed or converted on to better understand their interests. Once you have this information, you can make more informed decisions about what type of content is going to be most relevant to them. This is good because, at this point, relevance must be your top priority. It helps you hone in on the problem the customer is looking to you to solve, and give them a solution. You can additionally use relevance to power content recommendations and product suggestions, ultimately giving customers something they don’t even know they want yet.

B2B Ain’t That Different – Deliver It How They Want It

There is something that happens in the B2B world where brands do things the same way all the time and oftentimes don’t even know why. This became crystal clear in 2020 when events as we knew them (the main foundation of a lot of marketing strategies) up and disappeared. What we learned was that we absolutely can engage with our buyers outside of a conference hall, and as it turns out, we’re pretty good at it. This same shakeup has to happen in how brands deliver content experiences to their buyers.

Remember at events how marketers strove to offer specific content tracks from curated speakers in order to attract their audience and engage them? Think about mirroring that level of personalization (relevance) in the digital mix of content you’re now using. The variety of blogs, ebooks and videos being sent online should feel every bit as tailored to your audience as the breakout sessions and VIP talk tracks you would invite them to at an event.

Also, focus on how you’re delivering this content. No one wants to fill out a form on a website and wait 10 minutes for that ebook to land in their spam folder. We all know that content is the most effective way to start meaningful conversations, but even the greatest content delivered the wrong way can result in little to no ROI. Relevant content must be combined with a personalized experience to be effective. Buyers want content that works on any device, relevant to them personally and delivered in an engaging format. Put simply: brands need to deliver the best, personalized, most easily accessible content.

It’s time to think about your company and its offerings similarly. Your customers may have one, two or a combination of problems they want you to solve. And if you’re good at customer marketing, you’ll use your communications with them as a way to reinforce that not only do you know their name, but you also know what they care about and can help offer solutions they’ll find valuable. This is the holy grail of marketing, and it all centers on relevancy and experience.

So, I’ll leave you with one final takeaway. The more relevant your marketing is, the more truly personalized – and effective – it will be. That’s where the real magic happens. Take care, {first name}.

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