Marketing Unleashed: personalisation is about driving change not birthday greetings

The misperception of what personalisation is still exists for many marketeers

Personalisation isn’t simply sending an email to an individual, saying: “Hi Tim, we know it’s your birthday next week. Here’s a 10% discount on our product as a gift.” That is a seriously outdated execution of personalisation – something we might describe as Personalisation 1.0. This approach represents a poor use of customer data. It isn’t subtle. It is overly simplistic and doesn’t show any understanding of buyer journey.

It is, therefore, unlikely to work in B2B marketing. Neither is personalisation a tailored piece of account-based marketing (ABM) despite much confusion around this in the market. ABM is a focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams work closely together to target best-fit accounts, usually those of highest value and turn them into customers.

Personalisation in marketing today is bigger and more powerful than either ABM, or the basic tailored message highlighted above. The latest generation of personalisation (Personalisation 2.0) goes back to marketing fundamentals by delivering the right message to a prospective buyer at the right time in their buyer’s journey. But how can this approach best be delivered?

Understanding what marketing personalisation needs to be

The optimum approach starts by knowing when a buyer is ready for personalisation. Businesses can achieve this by first using a combination of website and behavioural analytics; journey visualisation tools and voice of the customer technologies to understand and map their customer journey, and then making sure they are equipped to execute at the right time.

In the past, if a person walked onto a car dealer’s forecourt, the dealer would know that person was in the market to buy. Today’s omnichannel world is far more complex.

The best moment, for delivering a personalised message will often be at a ‘time of flux’; when the business buyer is facing a challenge or evaluating an opportunity. It could be that previously successful product lines are not selling well and the business is having to shift to focusing on developing new ideas. It could be the company is struggling to keep up with demand, or that the main production site needs expanding, and it needs to invest in new facilities.

Marketers need to focus on understanding the implications of customer behaviour around such issues and time their outreach accordingly. Doing this effectively is dependent on the business being able to home in on the right data sets and then being able to understand and analyse key trends from it. Data is at the heart of personalisation done well. Data visualisation tools or buyer signal technology can be used to better understand data that indicates changes in customer behaviour that might indicate a propensity to buy a new solution or opt for a new service. This is all part of an ongoing move to data and making better use of it within marketing, which is ultimately helping marketers better understand what the behaviour of customers and prospects really means.

Once the buyer journey has been mapped and buyer behaviour is therefore better understood, marketers can move on to consider cultural imprint marketing. Running out-of-home campaigns with mass appeal can help deliver peer group recognition that convinces your target this is the way forward.

Next, businesses need to build the right content and materials to drum home the message and persuade people at each stage of the buyer journey, helping them to move step by step from one stage to another. Finally, they need to monitor and measure their campaigns to keep them on track. Here the ability to measure the RoI of any specific campaign including whether opportunities, leads or sales can be linked to it is likely to be key.

Measuring and monitoring success

Today, thanks to the latest in cloud, data analytics and AI, marketing departments have an opportunity to be able to deliver Personalisation 2.0 more efficiently. Doing all this effectively, however, also requires an evolution of skills and capabilities within the marketing organisation.

We are now starting to see more resources and investment put behind this kind of approach. These jobs, typically including data scientists and marketing analysts, will generally be focused on making better use of the data that the business has at its disposal. A recent report from LinkedIn indicates marketing skills in digital and data more generally have seen a sharp rise since the beginning of the pandemic, with the majority of the top 10 most in demand skills relating to marketing expertise which can be readily measured. These include ad serving (+84.6%), analytics (+46.1%) and web content writing (+30.3%).

Businesses and their marketing departments are today looking to make use of a combination of these skills and the latest capabilities in data science to pinpoint, understand and ultimately predict certain patterns of behaviour they are seeing from customers and prospects. A propensity to churn in the future, for example, could be evidenced by a growing lack of engagement with the organisation’s website, while limiting engagement to one product or solution on the website is a likely indicator of a pending decision to buy.

Whatever, their specific scenario, businesses can look at the data they have at their disposal and immediately see what tactics are working well and which aren’t, enabling them in turn to transform both their business strategy and the focus of their business investment.

The ability to derive enhanced insight from data has led some businesses to start developing marketing operations teams. These are focused not only on making better use of data within the department but also on disseminating it more widely across the organisation, so that the good work done by marketing in personalising their approach can be capitalised on by the sales department and other departments across the organisation

As a result, every stakeholder can see the spend that’s happening. There’s greater accountability on marketing to ensure they are delivering quality leads to sales. Marketing can see what campaigns are working. The whole approach is more transparent.

Moving beyond marketing

The enhanced knowledge of the customer that a Personalisation 2.0 approach supports can also be delivered to areas outside marketing. It can help inform sales, advocacy, the systems function around support and the ongoing management of technology.

If you understand your customer from the beginning, you have a great opportunity to be customer-centric across the organisation. That in turn will help the organisation to build new sales opportunities, increase existing customer value and reduce churn.

Ultimately though the key benefit of the Personalisation 2.0 approach comes from its ability to drive change. That depends on using data well to understand those moments of flux that customers go through. Beyond that, it also relies on ensuring they have the right processes, workflows, materials and approaches in place to capitalise, and drive through the change that will lead to customers engaging; buying, and staying with them over the long haul.

About the Author

Oliver Pilgerstorfer is chief marketing officer at IFS. IFS develops and delivers enterprise software for companies around the world who manufacture and distribute goods, build and maintain assets, and manage service-focused operations. Within our single platform, our industry specific products are innately connected to a single data model and use embedded digital innovation so that our customers can be their best when it really matters to their customers – at the Moment of Service.

Featured image: ©Estherspoon