What's Working In Personalization
Personalization is no longer a demand — it’s an expectation. With clear influences on the B2C side (see: Amazon’s recommended products and Netflix’s...
What’s Working In Personalization?
Marketers Rely On Relevancy To Drive Targeted Buying Experiences
What’s Working In Personalization? Marketers Rely On Relevancy To Drive Targeted Buying Experiences
Personalization is no longer a demand — it’s an expectation. With clear influences on the B2C side (see: Amazon’s recommended products and Netflix’s “up next” predictability), buyers are demanding relevant experiences that make them feel valued. It comes as no surprise, then, that about 1/3 of marketers recognized this change and enhanced their personalization strategies over the past year.
“Personalization is definitely less of a trend and more of a requirement — you don’t want a prospect to feel like they’re just a price point,” said Christina Kay, VP of Marketing at ResellerRatings, an online ratings website. “You want to personalize experiences based on an interaction the target had with the company to humanize your approach. Email has always been a popular personalization method, but it’s gaining traction through short videos and is fueled by automation, which ‘listens’ to customers.”
This new era of personalization is moving beyond name tokens to relevant experiences from the top-down, with a specific focus on content. With 55% of buyers indicating they want a strong story that resonates with them and 32% wanting content tailored to their needs, marketing teams have embraced the demand for personalization by relying on various datasets and informative tech stacks to create targeted assets, including personalized videos for prospects and interactive content that addresses their needs and concerns.
Throughout this report, we’ll analyze how marketers are leveraging data to create more relevant experiences for targets, including:
- The factors fueling the shift toward personalizing all aspects of outreach beyond the initial email;
- The various data sources needed to pull together relevant profiles on target buyers and existing customers;
- The technologies companies are leveraging to identify buyer behavior;
- The emerging role of conversational marketing in freeing up more sales rep time; and
- How marketers are applying personalization across all stages of the buyer’s journey pre- to post-sale.
Relevance is the new black — or, in this case, the new personalization. The days of robotic outreach populated with information scraped from a list are gone, as an overwhelming 65% of buyers only interact with content that’s easily accessible and speaks to their needs.
While a company name and logo in an advertisement or email subject line will still catch a prospect’s eye, Influ2’s VP of Marketing Nirosha Methananda explained that personalization has moved beyond plugging basic company information in an email to highlighting or acknowledging specific interests or problems a target has on channels they frequent most.
“Marketers are starting to highlight key pain points that are relevant to prospects, so we’re seeing this shift toward relevance as personalization,” she continued. “From that perspective, there are more sophisticated or mature marketers with established audiences who are personalizing toward segments of accounts or personas, which is where a lot of people have caught traction and seen success.”
Companies are taking that idea of relevance one step further and applying it to the actual content they’re sending prospects, not just the initial outreach. Instead of a personalized email with a generic White Paper attached, marketing teams are personalizing the deliverable assets through welcome videos and informative interactive content.
Q&A With Nick Mason, Turtl: Analyzing The Psychology Behind Content Personalization
Q&A With Nick Mason, Turtl: Analyzing The Psychology Behind Content Personalization
Nick Mason, Turtl
There are various methods marketing teams can use when it comes to content creation — but a somewhat underused tactic is understanding the psychology of buyers. Targets don’t interact with random content for fun; they engage with content that speaks to them and they identify with.
To dive deeper into content psychology and understand how marketers can use it to their advantage, we sat down with Nick Mason, CEO, Founder and Chief Storytelling Officer at Turtl, to understand what goes into creating compelling content that resonates with buyers.
Demand Gen Report: You’ve written a lot about content psychology and how to get into prospects’ heads — can you provide some insight into that for our readers?
Nick Mason: The way content is produced today focuses almost entirely on the business and includes very little time and thought into the audience and customer experience. If you start to think about the psychology of the customer in question, you can get some dramatic results. There are all kinds of psychology out there, but the two people are most familiar with are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Self-Determination Theory. With those in mind, you can start to build up an idea of what makes someone engage when it comes down to things such as the autonomy of choosing what to read.
We built a reading format based on all that good psychology, and to prove it works, we partnered with Nielsen to conduct a study and saw a 1,006% increase in engagement. That was over 10X more engagement with the same content presented in our psychology-driven format versus a traditional PDF format. We also saw 5X more positive brand perception, which shows that you really need to put the psychological needs of people into the equation when you think about the context of content.
There’s also a higher-level thinking here, which is the business-centric to customer-centric approach. In psychology and communications, there’s this idea of active versus passive listening, and I think a lot of businesses engage in passive listening. With passive listening, you’re not really listening; you’re basically just waiting for an opportunity to respond.
DGR: Can you provide some examples of passive versus active listening?
Mason: When you think about the way a lot of companies create content, it’s typically a classic lead capture form. Because a sales rep wants you to fill in the form to access the content; then maybe a day or two later, you’ll get a call from them. They don’t consider any kind of understanding of you or what you’ve read; they just want another opportunity to talk to you. That’s passive listening.
Active listening is taking the time to communicate with someone with more relevant messages and trying to understand how to respond based on how they respond to that message. That’s where this becomes a psychology thing. With passive listening, you can’t build trust or relationships; everything’s very transactional. But with active listening, you’re demonstrating to someone that they’re understood, and that breeds trust, confidence and all the other things you need to build a relationship.
DGR: I would imagine that automation and AI play a key role in active listening. How do they help collect and inform content creation?
Mason: AI is a little bit too young in content personalization and it needs to develop more, but automation is necessary to personalizing content at scale and spotting patterns. Specifically for active listening, there are two things that you need: The first is the ability to listen to a person and understand and gather behavioral data, and the second is the ability to articulate a different messaging depending on those stimuli.
For example, if a prospect reads five different topics and skips over another five, you need the ability to only speak to the areas they found interesting and evolve the relationship in that direction — you can’t do that without automating the personalization step.
DGR: What are some common myths you see about content personalization?
Mason: Some people say content personalization at scale is impossible, but then you look over at how successfully Spotify is scaling personalization. There’s another perspective that believes personalization can’t be done without a human being. Those are the two biggest myths I’m seeing.
The other one is that personalization is creepy and invasive, but that just comes down to how each company does it. If you’re sending someone a document that says, ‘I know where you live, your company and your name,’ that’s creepy and weird. But if you’re doing it in a way where you’re delivering relevant content and saying something like, ‘Hey, we thought you might be interested in this,’ you’re always going to get thanked for that. You want to provide a service or something with real value.
Analyzing The Importance Of Data
Analyzing The Importance Of Data
Understanding the importance of relevancy is one thing; generating the information needed to create those personalized experiences is another. Given the demand for highly targeted outreach and content, marketers are increasing their reliance on various data sources to help hyper-personalize buying journeys from start to finish.
“Intent data can predict early signs of interest from new target markets and accounts, even prior to initial brand engagement,” said Carmen Goldstein, Head of Global Strategy & Campaigns, Growth Marketing for Unity Technologies. “We also complement intent data with first-party account data to unlock accounts with high purchase potential. Intent data is as important during post-sale to predict cross-sell/up-sell opportunities and prevent churn by identifying customer interests beyond their purchase.”
Specifically, research shows that marketers are no longer utilizing simple demographic or firmographic data to personalize assets. Instead, they’re collecting deeper intelligence on buyers, such as buying intent insights, timeframe for buying decisions, specific commentary on challenges/pain points and budget information — all of which starts at the beginning of a buyer’s journey.
Mason explained that instead of forcing a prospect to read a generic article that’s somewhat applicable to their pain point or industry, organizations should incorporate guiding questions in interactive content to better provide prospects with the information they need. This goes all the way through to the conversion stage, with proposals that push people over the line. Beyond that, he continued, is creating evangelists and promoting customer success with something as simple as personalized onboarding documents.
Without the proper tools, the experts agreed that data collection processes can easily turn into a nightmare if there’s not an appropriate tech stack powering them. With such an abundance of data at their disposal, marketers are ensuring they have efficient means of sorting through it and identifying relevant insights.
Identifying The Components Of A Comprehensive Data Collection System
Identifying The Components Of A
Comprehensive Data Collection System
Given that marketing strategies are only as good as the technology stacks powering them, practitioners are relying on a comprehensive portfolio of platforms to reach the levels of relevant personalization buyers demand.
Specifically, Goldstein and ResellerRatings’ Kay explained that their companies’ tech stacks include:
- Digital content platforms;
- ABM targeting and automation tools;
- Conversational marketing platforms;
- Interactive content software;
- CDPs; and
- Sales engagement platforms.
Additionally, Methananda mentioned the increasing popularity of direct mail over the past couple years, and recommended organizations consider incorporating a gifting platform into their stacks.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, direct mail started to be really popular,” explained Methananda. “You’ll see growth in platforms that allow personalization at scale. In particular, Alyce essentially enables people to choose their own swag based on their interests, and it has built-in intelligence.”
All those technologies generate large amounts of disparate data, and it’s not realistic for marketing teams to attempt to analyze the data to draw conclusions. That’s where automation, predictive analytics and AI come into play, as machine learning capabilities can analyze large sets of data to identify potential next-best actions.
How Advertising Personalization Can Increase Value For Buyers — If It’s Done Right
By Dmitri Lisitski
How Advertising Personalization Can Create Value For Prospects — If It’s Done Right
By Dmitri Lisitski
Your new refrigerator, the 747 of kitchen appliances, has been ordered, delivered, installed and is happily chilling your groceries. You’ve crossed it off your list and moved on to your next project. Unfortunately, your online experience has not quite caught up with your reality. Weeks after the fact, refrigerator ads are still stalking you, lurking around every bend of the internet, on banners, display ads, social feeds – even invading your favorite YouTube channel. You see a full range of refrigerator models and a cornucopia of sales pitches and special incentives, if only you click now.
All that stalking of the refrigerator advertisers is not only unhelpful, but it’s a turn off. And, if you are the advertiser, you’ve not only turned off a prospect, but you’ve wasted your advertising budget.
While personalized ads have gotten a bad rap due to privacy concerns, don’t give up on its potential for good. In fact, there is a blue ocean of opportunity in the personalization space ahead. But to be successful at it, you must shift your thinking and focus on value creation, and then align your strategy and technology accordingly.
Here’s how to move your personalized advertising efforts out from the cavern of creepy and unhelpful and into the light of value creation.
How To Effectively Influence Prospects Through Relevance
As an advertiser, your key to keeping your metrics on an upward trend is how relevant you are to your potential buyer. Let’s break it down this way:
Relevance = Personalization - Creepiness
As in the case of the refrigerator, the ad revealed that the advertiser had data on you, indicating you were in the market for a refrigerator. That’s a feeling like you are being watched and it’s creepy. But, what if the ad instead offered you an extended warranty for home appliances instead? That’s relevant and helpful, not so creepy.
How It’s Usually Done: One Dimensional & Impersonal
How advertisers usually personalize is anything but personal. When you think about personalization, you might assume that it’s simply slapping your target company’s logo onto your banner ads, for example. And, if you could put your prospect’s name in the banner or on your landing page, you might think that’s even better.
One example is an advertiser who took their regular, non-personalized landing page and added “Hi John” at the top to address their prospect by name. And yes, while that was technically personalized, it added zero value for the prospect. The only thing a strategy like this does is reveal the fact that you know your prospect’s identity which heightens the creepiness factor but does not engage them with why your value is relevant to them.
How It Should Be Done: Multi-Dimensional & Individualized
In advertising, precision is your friend. Greater precision helps you take the creepiness out of personalization and instead give a customized user experience that actually delivers value. Everything else is spam. How advertisers should personalize their ads is by using three strategies at once:
- Identifying buying groups and focusing ads on their particular company, industry or titles;
- Understanding a target’s point in the buying journey, which is generated from your MAP and similar technologies to get a sense of the prospect’s stage in the funnel and cues what ad gets served; and
- Analyzing personas within each buying group, as each persona has different needs which requires complex messaging hierarchies.
While many companies may use one or two of these strategies to market to groups or types, using all these strategies in concert enables you to market to individuals — and that’s the key.
To gain that level of precision, you need the right strategy, data, and platform to unleash the power of buying group marketing. But what if there was a better way?
Creating Value Converts To Opportunities
For marketers to better help salespeople, they must treat the customers as individuals — and know who the right individuals are to target. You have to go for specific decision makers and a specific buying team inside every account, just like salespeople do.
An ideal system will share prospects between sales and marketing, down to the name and job title and serve up the ads relevant to those specific people. And the system would tell you precisely who sees which ad. It would tell you when they engage with the ads and how. It would fully integrate with your CRM so the sales team would get that information near real-time with contact scoring that is meaningful.
The Point Of Personalization Is Putting The Customer First
Personalized advertising is successful because it’s relevant, personal and precise, but mostly because when it’s done right, personalized advertising doesn’t forget to put the customer first. When you use an ad to target your market, it’s a good idea to know who precisely it is you are talking to so that you can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
That’s relevancy. That’s value creation. That’s putting the customer first. Now, knock it off with the refrigerators already.
Personalization is blurring with relevancy, as organizations seek to go beyond plug-and-play name tokens and provide prospects and customers with personalized content and experiences from initial interest to post-sale. Various forms of data — third-party, first-party and intent — are essential to successful personalization campaigns, so it’s up to marketers to ensure their data collection processes can keep up.
“Personalization is only as effective as the data behind it,” said Goldstein. “Data powers every aspect of personalization throughout each stage of the funnel. With everchanging data privacy rules, companies will rely even more on first-party data to fuel marketing decisions, optimize and innovate on customer experiences.”