Empathy is the cornerstone of B2B marketing. If you’re selling products or services to other businesses, you’re likely asking your customer to make a big commitment—often thousands or tens of thousands of dollars worth.

Real-time personalization is essential to this process, and savvy B2B marketers know it. The challenge? The majority of marketers, no matter how smart they are, aren’t sure how to create a personalization strategy. Few organizations are collecting the data they need to better target their audiences. Others? No matter how much data they have, they may not be able to use it—information lives in silos within their companies.

But these constraints shouldn’t hold you back. There are plenty of ways to get started with personalization: the key is to build your tech around the specific demand generation goals that you want to accomplish. Here are some ideas to get started:

Study your audience’s interests

Content marketing has evolved as a powerful tool for building awareness and educating customers, but its value-add is more—much more. Every time someone visits your blog or opens your email newsletter, you collect an additional data point about this person’s interests. You just need a few things to get started:

  • Analytics that allow you to capture user-level browsing data
  • A taxonomy of themes or categories for your content marketing program
  • A way to organize and segment your data
  • Technology that enables customers and users to  take action on your data

These resources will help you maintain a granular view of each person while also allowing you to do trend extrapolation at the segment level. You can slice and dice your audience database across any dimension that you’d like, and you can also quickly identify what’s heavy-hitting and what isn’t.

For inspiration here, take a look at HubSpot, a global leader in demand generation and marketing automation software. The company runs a blog with engaging content topics for diverse personas ranging from marketers to sales leaders and startup founders.

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The content has positioned itself, through content consumption data, to understand the need of each prospect, on an individual level. By the time a potential buyer talks to a sales rep, HubSpot already knows what articles this person is searching for and reading. Enter personalization.

Be strategically relevant and persistent

Personalized content and messages, served up based on the data you’ve collected and segmentation you’ve done, enable you to communicate more effectively with your visitors. They can take the form of inline messages, call-out messages, pop-ups and more. And they’re awesome when they’re thoughtful, appropriately timed, offer value and promote a helpful resource. But keep in mind, they’re the polar opposite of awesome when they’re spammy,  aggressive, overly ‘salesy’ and irrelevant.

You want to be persistent in your personalization efforts to support lead generation, but you don’t want to be obnoxious or obtrusive. B2B buyers are savvy, and you don’t want to rush them into a decision. Today’s buyers are self-directing their own research processes and aren’t looking for heavy sales pitches. They want information that’s helpful, in-the-moment and in line with what they’re looking to learn. Here are some ideas to be persistent and relevant, without being pushy:

  • Personalize based on industry. Dynamically change your home page or landing pages (images and headlines) based on the industry of the visitor which can be detected from their IP address.Target people with relevant eBooks and other content assets. With the historical data you’re collecting, you’ll have a sense of your audience’s needs and browsing preferences. Use this information to target the right content to the right people.
  • Present the next most relevant piece of content.  By tracking the actions and downloads a visitor has already taken, you’ll be able to show them an appropriate call-to-action every time.  
  • Create an exit-intent pop-up. When someone goes to leave your website, don’t let them leave empty-handed. Give them a relevant resource to remember your company.
  • Send an email reminder. Wait a few days after someone has left your website and then follow up with an interesting piece of content to help support the recipient’s research process.

Choose trusted and vetted technology

When it comes to personalization technology, execution is everything. You may have the best intentions in mind, but if your implementation is sloppy, your marketing will suffer as a result. You need to choose a vendor that offers impeccable support and will work with you to help you achieve your goals. When evaluating potential partners, make sure to ask the following questions to guide your decision-making process:

  • What differentiates the solution from the rest of the market?
  • What are some of the key pain points the solution addresses?
  • Can you share specific client examples and best practices for helping a company like mine achieve benefits quickly?
  • What does the onboarding and implementation process look like? How long will it take?
  • Walk me through a specific instance in which your team has had to provide support. What was the outcome?

When it comes to success with personalization, the intricacies play a big role. Look for signs of a vendor who is empathetic to your needs and prioritizes user experience, first and foremost, and is committed to helping you generate ROI. You need the right solution to execute upon your strategy, so choosing the right vendor is mission-critical.

Final Thoughts

When potential customers are looking to tackle a pain point or solve a business challenge, they’re not looking for one-size-fits-all solutions. They’re not looking to place risky bets either. They’re looking for resources that are tailored to their needs and exact use cases, and want solutions with a track record of success. That’s why real-time personalization is so essential to effective demand generation. And that’s why you need the right strategy and technology in place for a successful program.

Are you a demand gen marketer who has implemented a personalization program? We’d love to hear from you.