There are many marketing trends that are going to be just as important in 2016 as they were in 2015, but perhaps none as much as personalization. That is, as marketers gain deeper insight about their key targets, personalized content is positioned to become a need-to-have marketing tactic for every business. Tweet This

Audiences are even expecting more personal insights from companies. Think about it: major B2C companies have spoiled us with recommendations and suggestions based on our past purchases and browsing history. B2B companies need to get on board with this. In addition, as B2B audiences become accustomed to a personalized buying cycle, this expectation is likely to grow.

Many marketers, however, find it challenging to keep up with audience demands, although they know that improving personalization positively affects engagement and conversion rates. In fact, a recent Forrester/Salesforce study titled Refresh Your Approach to 1:1 Marketing, revealed that 84% of respondents agreed that personalization impacts customer retention and loyalty.

The study also found that marketers face such challenges as personalizing each and every customer interaction (48%), meeting expectations of the always-connected customer (42%), and analyzing the constant flow of customer interaction data (42%).

Clearly, marketers have their work cut out for them when it comes to improving personalization strategies. But that’s easier said than done, so it’s helpful to learn how real businesses have conquered personalization. For instance, a case study published on Marketing Sherpa covers how PR Newswire, the online news distributor, implemented personalization, as a result, helped to shorten its sales cycle by 30%.

PR Newswire started by addressing the challenges it faced in terms of personalizing its marketing campaigns. For instance, as its audience became more digitally inclined and online content became more accessible, the company decided that its messages’ focus had to shift from product to industry to better encapsulate audience interests. Next, it decided its marketing messages also had to be segmented and customized to personally resonate with different categories of buyers within its overarching database of 25,000 contacts.

Then, PR Newswire analyzed and segmented the database by company, department, and individual in order to get more insight about the type of content that people want. Through analyzing data from its business contacts database, PR Newswire could also match certain buyers with specific buying behaviors. As such, it could better map out the buying journey of defined buyer profiles and begin delivering custom content that resonates not only with prospects or existing buyers but encapsulates their stage in the buying cycle as well.

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Check out Dun & Bradstreet’s infographic Give ‘Em What They Want: Data-Inspired Content to learn how to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Through this tactic, PR Newswire realized the importance of maintaining a completely up-to-date and accurate business contacts database from which actionable insights can be derived to increase the personalization of marketing content. Besides shortening its sales cycle by 30%, it also gained lifts of 20% in engaged buyers, 8% in qualified leads, and 7% in closed deals.

To experience results similar to those achieved by PR Newswire, here are two areas to improve within your company’s current marketing strategy:

Data Insight

“Evaluate, cleanse, enhance, repeat” are words of wisdom when it comes to maintaining your business contacts database. After all, the more actionable insight you can glean from your data, the more informed decisions you can make about the types of marketing collateral to distribute. Hoover’s Optimizer for Contacts scrubs your contact data against the Hoover’s database of 85 million companies and 100 million people to append information gaps, delete duplicates, and get rid of the junk.

Content Creation

Personalization is nothing without premium content. With that said, I know it’s difficult to come up with engaging articles and whitepapers for every buyer persona across every industry. Who has the bandwidth to write and maintain marketing collateral for the IT consultant to small businesses and the IT consultant for government agencies? No one, and that’s why you tweak and repurpose. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time so start with your main piece of content – that speaks to your company’s value proposition – and adjust it for each audience segment, to outline how you can help them overcome challenges. This simplifies the process. Marketing is complicated enough, isn’t it?

Photo Credit: ra3hong, Twenty20