B2Bs Crave Experiences Not Products: Here’s How to Deliver

B2B experience

We hear a lot about driving value from experiences rather than material things – but what does that mean for B2B sales?

To understand the changing B2B experience, start by looking at the broader picture.

Research shows that 78% of millennials would rather spend their hard-earned money on experiences – like live concerts and travel – than the alternative.

Millennials are driving the “experience economy” and guess what? They work in B2B, too.

73% of millennials who work in B2B are involved in buying decisions with 34% holding the role of key decision-makers at their respective companies.

Most millennials weren’t born into a world of home internet and smartphones but technology did shape their formative years. Millennials have had access to Amazon, Facebook, and personalized experiences most of their adult lives.

They’ve watched these AI-driven technologies emerge and saturate every sector.

As generation Z starts to enter the labor force, B2B brands can’t ignore the changing dynamic and expectations. Here’s how to not only keep up but stay ahead.

B2B experience

What Does the Buyer’s Journey Look Like in 2020?

Access to endless information and global markets have forced the entire buyer’s journey to evolve. For example, half of the millennials in B2B said they’ve done business with international companies – a huge change from the behavior of baby boomers and Generation Z.

Let’s take a look at what the journey looks like today.

Buyers are Researching on Their Own

Gartner found that B2B buyers only spend 17% of the buyer’s journey connecting with potential sales teams. Keep in mind that 17% is usually spread across multiple vendors, too. In most cases, a buyer will only meet with your sales team for 5% of their entire journey.

Gartner

Instead, the B2B experience involves a lot of research: 45% of the entire journey, both online and off.

B2B companies need to step up and provide an experience to accommodate their leads. Make it as seamless as possible for them to find the information they need.

The Buyer’s Journey isn’t Linear

Everyone knows the B2B sales journey is long but it isn’t linear either.

CEOs might turn over (1,160 CEOs stepped down in the first three-quarters of 2019). Budgets change. Needs adapt to changing markets.

The only thing predictable about the buyer’s journey is that it’s unpredictable. That’s why inbound tactics are more effective than outbound.

However, inbound marketing still doesn’t go far enough if you don’t optimize every touchpoint for factors like a visitor’s industry, company, and stage of the buying process.

The B2B Experience Demands High-Level Personalization

While 77% of B2B marketers understand the importance of personalization for building relationships with leads and customers, 42% say they haven’t fully optimized their personalization strategies.

21% say they don’t use data to personalize their content marketing. Meanwhile, only 39% would call their current personalization “somewhat sophisticated.”

There’s a huge disconnect between the B2B experience buyers expect and what brands are delivering.

84% of buyers say the key to winning their business is treating them like a human being instead of another number. Hyper-personalization through an AI-driven website experience is key to winning hearts and minds.

B2B Customers Still Prefer Some Type of Human Interaction

No matter how much we shift online, the B2B experience still requires human interaction. Buyers – and humans in general – crave it.

94% of buyers say they’re more likely to buy from a company when they can have real-time interactions with a knowledgeable employee.

That demand doesn’t disappear when they convert into customers either. Customers want helpful interactions from real people to improve their experience.

How to Create a B2B Experience Buyers Expect

The question now becomes, how can marketers create the digital B2B experience their leads and current customers expect? What AI-driven tools can they use to automate personalization on their website?

Personalize with AI and Machine Learning Algorithms

Artificial intelligence makes it easy to provide a hyper-personalized experience on your website for everyone – whether known or anonymous.

Instead of forcing your leads to sort through eBook categories or old blog posts to find something relevant, AI offers personalized content recommendations based on browsing behavior.

For example, if someone working for an NGO visits your website, the AI engine will recommend all your content about NGOs. When you create a hyper-personalized experience, visitors will stay on your site longer consuming all your best content assets.

Self-Nurturing Landing Pages

Most landing pages stick with a single CTA and end the conversation. While a single CTA is still a smart practice, it doesn’t have to be the only solution.

Self-nurturing landing pages give your visitors an endless stream of personalized content. This buys you more time to make your case as to why they should stay in touch with your brand and provide their email address.

Not only that, but the algorithms are designed to choose content that guides a visitor towards conversion based on their stage of the buying cycle.

Adaptive Content Hubs to Educate Buyers

An adaptive content hub lets you organize your content by different categories – like content type, vertical, or stage of the buying cycle.

Once a visitor starts browsing, the AI engine takes over to continue recommending an endless stream of similar content.

Human Lead Verification to Eliminate Gated Content

If you’re like most B2Bs, missing form fields, incorrect entries, and outdated data plague your marketing strategies.

Human lead verification eliminates the issue at its source. Once a lead provides their email address, the algorithm uses public information from sources like LinkedIn to fill in the firmographic gaps.

Plus, you don’t have to gate your best content behind forms. While visitors receive a better browsing experience, you get more time to nurture leads while they’re on your site and more accurate data when they decide to convert.

Use the Power of AI to Skyrocket Lead Conversions by 51%

Hushly helps B2B companies harness the power of AI and machine learning to create a unique experience for every visitor. Whether a collected lead or anonymous visitor, Hushly’s AI engine uses behavior data to learn about everyone and create a unique content experience.

Create the digital experience your B2Bs expect with the power of AI-driven personalization

B2B experience

How Do Personalization Engines Work? Everything Marketers Need to Know

personalization engine

Personalization isn’t just “nice to have” in B2B anymore – your B2B buyers expect it.

65% of buyers say they would consider switching brands if a company didn’t make any effort to personalize their interactions and content, which is 13% more than consumers.

Salesforce

Despite its importance, most B2Bs struggle to implement effective personalization strategies.

42% of B2B marketers admit they need to improve their personalized marketing. Meanwhile, research shows that 80% of organizations will abandon their data-driven personalization strategies by 2025 citing poor ROI and failure to properly use data.

A personalization engine driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning is the key to “winning” the personalization game.

Instead of working with massive data sets retroactively, an AI engine personalizes every experience in real-time. Here’s a look at how it works and how to implement it on your website.

personalization engine

Understanding the Algorithms that Drive a Personalization Engine

You encounter AI engines everywhere you go online. From Amazon and e-commerce sites to Spotify and Facebook, almost every app and website use a personalization engine to provide a unique experience.

Despite their prevalence in our daily lives, most marketers don’t know much about the basic algorithms that make AI engines hum along.

The models below are layered on top of each other as part of the “engine” to personalize every experience with different pieces of data.

Collaborative Filtering

The collaborative filtering algorithm watches your browsing behavior and compares it to previous visitors with a similar browsing behavior.

You see collaborative filtering in action with Amazon’s “customers who bought X also bought Y” recommendations.

Session-Based Similarity

With session-based similarity, the algorithm looks at the specific path you took. In other words, it pays attention to the order you consume content.

From there, machine learning compares it to visitors who took a similar path and uses it to recommend relevant pieces of content. In B2B terms, it also considers the stage of the buying cycle and nudges leads down the funnel through content recommendations.

Content Similarity

A content similarity model scans the copy and category of the content you browse and recommends similar pieces of content.

For example, the algorithm might notice a visitor is browsing nonprofit-related content and continue recommending other pieces of similar content.

Popularity, Importance, and Trending Models

You see these algorithms a lot when you first open your Netflix app.

For example, Netflix recommended everyone watch Tiger King. At first, Netflix deemed the show “important” as it was a Netflix original. As people started watching it, however, Tiger King showed up in the “trending” algorithm as well.

Your B2B personalization engine can use the same algorithms to make content recommendations as well. For example, case studies or eBooks you classify as “important assets” can show up first on everyone’s screen – no matter when you published them.

Hushly

What are the Benefits of Using a Personalization Engine on Your B2B Website?

Simply put, B2B buyers expect a personalized experience from your website. How do the benefits express themselves?

  • Relevant content experiences keep visitors on your website, thus reducing bounce rates.
  • Personalization helps visitors learn about your brand and research.
  • It allows leads to self-nurture and gently guides them down the sales funnel.
  • Adding an AI engine to your B2B site can boost lead conversions by 51%.

How Can You Use the Best Personalization Engine on Your Website?

Now that you understand the basics of how AI personalization engines work, it’s time to learn a few tools to implement them in practice. Here’s what they look like on the user side.

Self-Nurturing Landing Pages

Say good-bye to dead-end landing pages for good.

Self-nurturing landing pages give your leads an endless stream of highly relevant content. Using the algorithms mentioned above, the landing page recommends content that’s not only relevant to a visitor’s browsing behavior but also guides them down the sales funnel.

Here’s a bonus. You don’t have to rely on capturing data through a form before you can start nurturing leads.

Self-nurturing landing pages let you un-gate your content and provide visitors with a sample. They can continue browsing samples of personalized eBooks, case studies, and blogs at their leisure. When they’re ready to download the full piece, they can simply provide a business email address and country.

The user doesn’t have to fill out their personal company details because AI fills in the gaps when it verifies the lead data.

Adaptive Content Hubs

Adaptive content hubs are your secret weapons for keeping visitors on your website.

Research shows that buyers want to binge on the content they find relevant. 58% of B2Bs say they would spend up to 20 minutes browsing relevant content. Meanwhile, 68% said they want to see content organized by pain points.

That’s where an adaptive content hub proves worthwhile. The adaptive content hub lets you organize content by pain point, vertical, or content type. Once a visitor starts browsing, the personalization engine takes over and continues recommending relevant content in an endless stream.

Engaging Exit-Intent Popups

Exit-intent popups are everywhere these days but most companies get them completely wrong.

No one wants to fill out a lead magnet form as they try to tab away from your website.

Instead, think about why they came to your website in the first place: to consume your content.

An AI engine lets you employ exit-intent popups people actually engage with. As someone moves the cursor to leave your site, they’ll get a popup filled with relevant content recommendations based on the content they consumed while on your website.

Rather than asking your visitors to complete a task and supply personal information as they try to leave, personalized exit intent popups provide value.

Create the Experience Your Leads Expect with Personalized Content

Adding a personalization engine to your B2B website doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Hushly makes it easy to implement an AI engine and put it to work right away and skyrocket lead conversions by 51%

Understanding how personalization engines work is complicated but adding them to your B2B site doesn’t have to be. See the adaptive content hub in action now.

personalization engine

8 Factors Every B2B Tech Marketing Strategy Needs in 2020

B2B tech marketing

The coronavirus has changed how everyone conducts business. As everyone shifts towards a world of working remotely – with many never looking back – certain pieces of technology have become critical for daily work.

Business technology is certainly having a moment and it’s more important than ever to keep your B2B tech marketing strong.

8 Things Your B2B Tech Marketing Strategy Absolutely Needs in 2020

Although 81% of B2Bs admitted in November that they were concerned about a recession, most are still investing in essential pieces of technology.

Your B2B tech marketing strategy should aim to set you apart from all the other choices. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. Show why you’re the best choice through your user-centric digital experience.

Use your digital technology marketing to educate and offer value.

B2B tech marketing

1. A Relevant and Valuable Blog

Too many marketers concern themselves with the marketing portion of content marketing without putting enough thought into the actual content.

Research shows that 90% of top-performing B2B blogs have one thing in common: They focus on audience needs and problems instead of writing promotional content.

No one wants to read a giant advertisement. Instead, research your audience and find ways to help them. Everyone is struggling right now in the wake of the pandemic so it’s always smart to offer a helping hand where you can. Put their needs first.

2. Personalized Content Assets

Beyond blog posts, you’ll also want to develop personalized content assets to help your audience. Research is important here because everyone likes to consume different types of content.

Research has found that during the buying process:

  • 49% of B2Bs consume video
  • 64% listen to podcasts
  • 76% enjoy infographics

If you’re unsure what your audience likes, shoot for a well-rounded content strategy. Don’t forget downloadable assets too like eBooks and case studies to help empower your audience.

3. A Strong Social Selling Strategy

Some industries – particularly tech sectors – see some 50% of their revenue coming from social selling strategies. That’s huge!

Now more than ever, no one likes an opportunist out to make a quick buck. Instead of using your personal social media accounts to broadcast blogs and company news, use them to build connections with followers, and have conversations.

Branch away from your own profile to leave comments, questions, encouragement, and even jokes on other folks’ statuses.

Social media usage has surged by 20% since the lockdown started. At the end of the day, people will remember who was hanging out on LinkedIn to offer encouragement and laughs versus who was constantly peddling promotional material.

social selling

LinkedIn

4. Informative Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing is one of the best off-site tools at your disposal for nurturing leads. Email service providers offer many advanced automation and personalization tools.

It’s easy to set up automated lead nurturing journeys ahead of time so that when someone converts into a lead, you can send out personalized campaigns.

Consider forming unique lead nurturing campaigns for different companies, job roles, or industries.

As you design your email campaigns, remember to blend a nice mix of problem-solving information with details about your company to build authority. However, skip the promotional material until the end of your lead nurturing campaign.

5. An Account-Based Marketing Strategy or Some Tactics

With everyone away from their corporate IP addresses, now might not seem like the best time to launch an account-based marketing strategy. However, artificial intelligence makes it easy to track accounts and offer personalized content without an IP address.

Create unique content for your best customers to prevent churn. Look for potential accounts to target based on market research and trends.

If you don’t want to invest in an entire strategy, at least give some account-based marketing tactics a shot. For example, you could pepper in company names throughout your blog, chat with key decision-makers on social media, or create new LinkedIn groups to network.

6. Effective Social Media Retargeting Campaigns

Social media – especially LinkedIn and Facebook – is filled with extensive audience insights and retargeting tools to boost your B2B tech marketing strategy.

Again, you don’t want to necessarily focus on converting sales right now. Sure, include a strong CTA in your material but focus on retargeting potential leads with useful blog posts and other content assets.

LinkedIn makes it easy to personalize your messages. Simply plug the URL of a personalized blog post into LinkedIn’s advertising tool to reach everyone on the platform who viewed that blog post.

7. Create a Mobile-First Experience

Last year, Think with Google estimated that 70% of B2B searches would happen on mobile devices in 2020. Well, they didn’t plan for a pandemic and folks working from home either. B2B mobile searches have surely surpassed that 70% statistic by now – at least for the time being.

B2B tech marketing – possibly more than any other sector – needs a mobile-first experience.

The best thing you can do to improve your mobile experience is to remove lead magnet forms. Forms are clunky and intrusive. Once you lift the blockade on your content, visitors will stay longer and consume more content.

8. Focus on Building Partnerships – Not Winning Sales

There’s a reason 80% of B2B customers churn within the first 24 months: Vendors don’t live up to expectations. Instead of focusing on short-term sales, shoot to build long-term partnerships.

Mutually beneficial relationships are always healthier and have better communication than co-dependent ones.

Build a Strong B2B Tech Marketing Strategy with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence can help you create a personalized experience on your website for every visitor. Whether someone is a known lead or anonymous visitor, everyone gets a completely unique content experience.

Just like Netflix, AI tracks each visitor’s browsing behavior and offers personalized content recommendations that gently guide them down the sales funnel. In other words, you can empower your B2B tech marketing leads by helping them educate themselves.

Plus, more effective on-site analytics can also power your content marketing strategy and retargeting campaigns.

Adding an AI engine to your site can skyrocket your B2B tech lead conversions by 51%! Check out how it works.

B2B tech marketing

What B2B Marketing Analytics Do You Need to Watch in a Post-COVID-19 World?

what is B2B marketing analytics

The pandemic has changed how everyone conducts business – from small consumer e-commerce suppliers to massive B2B corporations.

Many marketers may not realize that the concept of “essential business” still carries over into the B2B realm – and not in the way you might think.

If your traffic and conversions have drastically dropped off or changed, don’t beat yourself up. Just adjust your tactics. Most importantly, start by looking at what B2B marketing analytics you’ll watch in the post-COVID-19 world.

what is B2B marketing analytics

How Has B2B Buyer Behavior Changed Under COVID-19

Research shows that B2Bs were concerned about a looming recession long before the pandemic shut down the consumer economy.

recession emarketer

Emarketer

In November of 2019, 82% of organizations surveyed admitted they were either “strongly concerned” or “concerned” about an upcoming recession. The question now is, what were B2Bs doing to prepare way back then that set them up for potential success today?

About 33% of buyers said suppliers should provide better information on products and services to help them make educated decisions.

That’s not new information either. B2Bs have been saying for months that they want vendors to talk more about both the pros and cons of their product or service. They want to know who isn’t a great fit so they can make the right choice and avoid disappointment.

It also makes sense that 23% said they need more confidence in their purchase decisions. When money is tight, buyers need to know they’re running a smart budget.

It’s worth considering that even B2Bs have surged their spending on remote work tools. 40% of B2Bs said they planned to spend more on an initial investment in supplies to work remotely. Meanwhile, another 30% said spending on video conferencing technology had increased.

Security is also a top priority as workers leave the secure office servers and shift to their personal IP addresses. However, only 15% of organizations increased their spending on security software, like firewalls and VPNs.

What B2B Marketing Analytics Should You Watch Post COVID-19?

Switching from corporate servers to home-based IP addresses poses more challenges than security risks. It also throws off a lot of marketers’ account-based marketing and personalization strategies!

Many marketers rely on IP address data and website traffic to identify firmographics like company names and details. Furthermore, their personalization strategies are cookie-based.

When someone leaves their typical corporate IP address for their residential IP, all that data suddenly disappears.

If your analytics look totally different than they did in January, just know you’re not alone. Everyone is living in an age of disruption and we’re all struggling to adapt.

Next, change what B2B marketing analytics you track. Since everyone is kind of in a freeze-frame moment, you’ll want to shift away from tracking bottom-line conversions towards other metrics.

Social Media Engagement

People already spent plenty of time browsing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn before COVID-19. Today, however, social media traffic has skyrocketed by 20% since the lockdown began.

Your conversion rates might not be what they once were, but you can still focus on areas like branding and social selling. On that note, you’ll want to closely track your social media engagement.

Are you earning more followers? Are people commenting on and sharing your content?

Don’t forget to participate in conversations and ask questions.

Blog Traffic

Your blog traffic tells a story about your content’s effectiveness right now. Relevant, valuable, and non-salesy content was always important. But when buyers aren’t actively looking for vendors, high-quality content matters even more.

If your search rankings haven’t dropped and you’re still regularly posting on social media but your blog traffic still took a nosedive, it might be worthwhile to reevaluate your entire blog approach.

What do 90% of top-performing B2B blogs have in common? They focus on answering audience questions and solving problems. Focus on your audience’s key hurdles at the moment and position yourself to help – even when you don’t stand to gain anything.

Key Content Assets

Like your blog, your key content assets like eBooks, podcasts, and videos also tell a story about your content quality.

If your lead magnets are truly valuable to your audience, they should still be earning traffic and downloads. If they’re not, your content might be too promotional. Make sure you’re creating content that adds value and nuance.

Plus, when spending increases a bit, B2Bs will remember who was there for them with relevant content and who was just trying to make a quick buck.

How to Create the Best Experience for Your B2B Buyers and Customers

Creating a hyper-personalized experience is the key to earning traffic and engagement even during the most difficult times.

You might have a ton of awesome information on your website, but if the experience isn’t interactive and personalized, how can visitors find it?

Artificial intelligence is the answer.

Instead of relying on IP addresses to personalize your website, AI uses real-time browsing data. Every visitor gets a completely personalized experience whether they’re a collected lead or anonymous visitor.

Let’s say someone arrives at your website because they saw a blog post you shared about non-profits on social media. The AI engine takes note of the topic (non-profits), how long they spent reading the blog, and what they click on next. These pieces of data allow the AI engine to offer personalized content recommendations.

That’s why AI is so useful for stretching your marketing budget during tough times. You don’t have to spend hours researching your leads and following up with personalized offers. The AI engine allows leads to self-nurture and educate themselves at their own pace.

In other words, you can spend more time social selling, creating content, researching your audience, and building connections because you’ll spend less time on personalized delivery.

This is especially useful for account-based marketing in the COVID-19 era when many companies aren’t returning to the office and IP addresses have completely changed.

Want to learn more about how the technology behind an AI engine works and how to add it to your site? This post explains everything in simple terms.

what is B2B marketing analytics

How to Research Buyer Personas for Effective Account-Based Marketing

how to research buyer personas

Your buyer personas are the lifeblood of your content marketing strategies.

Whether you’re creating content for specific audience segments or an account-based marketing strategy, you need specific personas to drive your content creation.

85% of B2Bs expect personalization on the very first interaction so understanding their problems, state of mind, and needs are critical if you want to make an impact.

This post will explain a few strategies on how to research buyer personas to drive your content marketing efforts.

how to research buyer personas

How to Research Buyer Personas: 8 Strategies

Considering that buyer needs change so often, how can you create such complex profiles? Use the tips below to learn about your prospects and leads in real-time with minimal interaction and effort!

enrichment-process

Hushly

1. Talk to Your Sales Team

Your sales team would no doubt love to hear about the questions leads ask and what types of problems they have. Sales and marketing should work hand-in-hand to develop buyer personas.

Customer service departments are also a goldmine for learning about current customers and ideas for reaching out to future prospects.

It’s smart for your marketing department to conduct interviews with sales and customer service so they’ll have a comprehensive idea for creating content.

2. Check Out Job Descriptions

Job boards on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn are loaded with factoids about how companies conduct business. These especially come in handy when you’re developing an account-based marketing strategy.

Check out job descriptions for specific companies and the roles at said companies. Who is in charge of what? Who has buying power? What problems might each role face?

Combining this with data from social media can help you build well-rounded pictures of your potential buyers.

3. Ask Questions on Social Media

Marketers broadcast so much content on social media that it’s easy to forget its true purpose: being social!

Instead of posting links and comments, ask questions in your Tweets and LinkedIn posts. But don’t ask any old question. Using information from your sales team or job description recon, develop a set of specific questions that will come in handy as you develop content for your B2B buyer personas.

Don’t forget to research your hashtags too. These will come in handy for reaching a wider audience and connecting with new networks.

4. Check Out Discussions on Reddit

Sure, Reddit might not be a thriving platform for B2B as a whole, but certain subreddits have a lot of useful information about your buyer personas.

Start by considering your B2B buyer persona’s industry. Which subreddits might they follow to learn about industry news? Reddit comes in handy because almost everyone remains anonymous, so you get an honest view of where people stand with their daily problems.

Look for relevant AMAs (Ask Me Anything) too. These can help you really dig into the meat of their industry.

5. Send Out Surveys

If you’ve already got an email list handy, don’t be shy – ask your leads and customers what you want to know! Google Forms comes in handy for building quick custom feedback forms.

Think through your questions carefully to ensure you’re only asking for important answers you can’t get from your analytics. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time so try to keep your surveys as short as possible.

The design experts at Nielsen Norman recommend:

  • Front-loading your most important questions
  • Ensure your question language is neutral
  • Ask open-ended questions

You could also send out your survey link to your social media followers and others with relevant hashtags. Spend some time developing your post copy and headline though. Remember that you’re asking people to complete a task so you need something interesting to grab their attention.

6. Research Your Current Traffic

Your website’s current traffic can tell you a lot about future prospect potential. Which frequent visitors aren’t collected leads? Which companies do they work for and what are their roles there?

You could take this a step further by plugging a URL for a targeted blog post from your site into LinkedIn’s retargeting tool. LinkedIn can help you reach people who visited that specific link.

Using that link, you can send out surveys, additional links to see if your content draws them back, or even quick embedded polls in your post. When you’re trying to learn how to research buyer personas, every little piece of information is another valuable clue.

7. Read What They Might Read

In terms of how to research buyer personas, this is one of the more long-term strategies on the list here.

Your goal isn’t to get quick answers. It’s to understand your prospects and leads on a deeper level. You want to follow their favorite LinkedIn pages, Twitter accounts, hashtags, subreddits, and industry blogs so you can stay informed about their state of mind.

Keep a spreadsheet going where you can save links about industry changes, important news, mergers, and anything else that seems relevant.

8. Check the Latest Market Research

Like following industry blogs, market research can give you a glimpse into what your potential B2B buyer personas face.

Of course, you shouldn’t whitewash your buyer personas based on the details in market research reports. However, they are a great starting point before you dig into further industry challenges.

Market research can help you identify potential accounts to target as well.

Create a Personalized Website Experience with the Power of AI

Once you study your buyers and create personalized content for them, how can you deliver it to them? How can you ensure every website visitor gets the most relevant content possible? You can’t expect them to search through your blog for it – you need to present it to them in front of their face.

Artificial intelligence makes it easy to distribute your content to visitors at the perfect time. Instead of forcing your leads to scroll through your blog searching for relevant content, AI offers personalized content recommendations based on their browsing behavior.

Find out how the power of AI can improve your website experience for every visitor.

how to research buyer personas

Are You Spending Too Much Time on B2B Content Personalization?

B2B content personalization

Personalized content is critical for grabbing attention, earning engagement, and winning B2B leads.

85% of buyers say they will bounce if a company doesn’t personalize the very first touchpoint along the journey.

But are you spending too much time researching, developing, and delivering your B2B content personalization strategy? Probably!

Let’s go over the different strategies you can use to personalize your B2B content marketing and how they work.

B2B content personalization

Does More Time = Better B2B Content Personalization?

You hear all the time about how important it is to research your leads and provide them with hyper-personalized content. It makes sense that 58% of B2B marketers believe the more effort they exert in their personalization strategy, the more effective it is.

But there’s a limit, isn’t there? Yes, spending time on your personalization strategy is important but it also needs to deliver results.

Spending hours studying what your leads binge on Netflix isn’t worth anything if it doesn’t earn their trust and improve their experience. Ideally, your results should either outweigh your effort or at least break even, right?

Corporate Visions ran their own personalization study to see if spending more time resulted in better results. They picked 7,000 ice-cold prospects and spent as much time and effort as they could researching every little thing about each one:

  • Industry
  • Company
  • Personal details
  • Competitor information

Next, they sent each prospect a personalized email. Corporate Visions found that emails with personal details AND company information in the subject line delivered the highest open rates.

Personalization-Open-Rates

Corporate Visions

However, open rates only tell you how interesting your subject line is – not whether your content personalization strategy is effective and engaging.

When Corporate Visions looked at the click rate, the stats told a completely different story: Content personalized for the recipient’s industry delivered the highest click rates.  

Personalization-Click-Through-Rates

Corporate Visions

The results completely switched from that of the open rates.

Personal information certainly grabs attention because it seems like the email is coming from someone you know.

However, once the recipient opens the email, they probably feel duped when they realize it’s a marketing campaign. They might feel unsettled too and think, “how does this random company know what I ate for lunch?”

In conclusion, spending hours researching details about every lead means you’re missing the point. Hyper-personalization should equate to creating a holistic personalized experience and not necessarily sending emails with personal details to every prospect.

Inbound Vs. Outbound B2B Content Personalization Strategy

There’s another caveat to Corporate Vision’s research: It used outbound marketing tactics.

While outbound marketing certainly has its place in B2B content personalization, sending cold emails is a waste of time. You’re much better putting your energy into inbound tactics or well-placed PPC adverts.

Inbound marketing is 10x more effective for converting leads and generates 54% more leads than traditional outbound tactics. Plus, after investing in inbound marketing for five months, your cost per lead drops by 80%.

Focus on using that same research and energy to create highly relevant, valuable, and interesting content marketing assets such as:

  • In-dept blogs
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Infographics

How to Win at B2B Content Personalization in Less Time

Corporate Vision’s research focused on creating a hyper-personalized experience for every prospect using outbound marketing tactics. Now, individual B2B content personalization is still the goal with inbound marketing – your delivery just looks different.

No, you aren’t creating hyper-personalized blog posts for a specific person at each company. That would feel intrusive. However, you could use account-based marketing to create content for

  • End users at your target company
  • CEOs of your target company
  • Marketers at your target company

The content is still personalized on an industry and company level but it’s not intrusive because it’s helpful and relevant.

How you deliver your content is also the catalyst for creating a hyper-personalized experience. Let’s say you spent weeks developing content for prospects who work for non-profits. You might have organized all this content in one menu item titled “non-profit resources.”

If someone arrives at your blog from a social media link or landing page, you must rely on the visitor seeing this menu item if you want them to discover all your amazing personalized content.

That’s not effective either. It puts the burden on your visitor to find your relevant content.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning do the opposite: They create a hyper-personalized experience with data you’re already collecting and content you already have.

Just like Netflix or Spotify, AI tools for B2B content personalization study the behavior of each visitor on your site and use it to provide personalized content recommendations. As more visitors browse your site, the AI learns what they like and improves its content recommendations.

That’s why your YouTube music recommendations are often much more relevant than Spotify despite Spotify being a dedicated music app: YouTube simply has a much larger amount of data to work with and improve its suggestions.

What Tools Can Help You Deliver Personalized Content?

Adding an AI engine to your website might sound complicated but it’s really not. All the tedious coding work is already done and the engine works behind the scenes. You just plug it and play!

You can add artificial intelligence to your website through many tools to improve your B2B content personalization:

  • Adaptive Content Hubs: You still organize your content by broad categories but when someone starts reading, the AI engine takes over and offers an endless stream of personalized content recommendations.
  • Self-Nurturing Landing Pages: Instead of letting leads drop off, AI offers the best piece of content to continue guiding them down the sales funnel in an endless stream.
  • Exit Intent Popups: Instead of confronting your visitors with lead forms as they try to exit your page, AI-driven popups use their on-site behavior to offer personalized content recommendations that lure them back onto the page.

The Hushly AI engine can help you harness the power of AI to drive your B2B content personalization strategy. Check out the benefits of self-nurturing landing pages and learn how they work!

B2B content personalization

B2B Marketing Budgets During COVID-19: Why You Don’t Need to Worry

B2B marketing budget

Some states might be slowly creeping back to normal, but the reality of business and life is far from how it once was.

The truth is people are scared.

Scared for their jobs, the roof over their heads, food on their tables, and even their physical and mental health.

As if the virus itself didn’t give people enough to worry about, the also economy reached unprecedented lows.

You’re no doubt wondering about the future of B2B right now. How will B2B marketing budgets change? Will events ever resume? How can we overcome this together?

Let’s look at some of the possibilities.

B2B marketing budget

How Has COVID-19 Changed B2B Marketing Budgets?

In late March, Aggregage and Webbiquity released the results of a study on B2B marketing budgets of some 450 companies.

B2Bs weighed in on how the pandemic affected their marketing strategies and how they intended to adjust their budgets. 72% of B2Bs said they either planned to increase, maintain, or slightly decrease their marketing budgets. What does “slightly decrease” mean? 20% or less.

That’s good news because some B2Bs say they even planned to spend more on marketing!

In other words, budgets would more or less stay the same.

The real changes seemed to impact B2B events. Anyone who’s worked in B2B for any amount of time knows events are a major fixture in marketing. They’re huge for networking, promoting, and brand recognition.

Most business leadership – 84% – say in-person B2B events are a key component of their visibility and overall business success.

The survey showed that 70% of B2Bs planned to cancel events for at least 60 days (as of March) while a quarter would hold off on in-person gatherings for at least six months. That’s a major blow if you rely on events for visibility.

A month later, at the end of April, McKinsey & Company conducted a similar study on B2B marketing budgets of over 3,700 companies across 11 countries.

At this point, 62% of these global B2Bs had reduced their marketing budgets. American companies didn’t scale back quite as much: Only 57% had decreased their budgets.

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McKinsey & Company

While the economic effects of COVID-19 are far from over, we do have a clearer impact today than we did in March.

How Does B2B Stack Up Against B2C?

It’s easy to look at these figures and panic, but the truth is B2B is showing better resiliency than B2C during the pandemic.

While both B2B and B2C have suffered a 69% slump in demand for their products and services, B2C marketers are much more vulnerable to redundancy.

Marketing Week and Econsultancy conducted a study across 1,900 global marketers. Only 5% of B2B marketers said their job status had suffered compared to 7% in B2C.

Those numbers are already pretty small so let’s take a closer look.

Of that 5% for B2B, a quarter said their jobs were now redundant while 64% had their roles scaled back. 11% of them said their roles had expanded due to the pandemic.

Of the 7% in B2C, nearly twice as many marketers said their roles were now redundant: 44%.

Consumer companies as a whole are taking a step back before launching marketing campaigns right now with 89% saying campaigns are under review or on hold.

Squeezing the Most Out of Your B2B Marketing Budget

If you’re shifting or reducing your B2B marketing budget in the wake of COVID-19, you can take a few steps to stretch every dollar as far as possible.

Focus on Smaller Localized Events

Massive events at huge venues are out of the picture for the time being. Even if they lift social distancing measures tomorrow, that doesn’t mean people will feel comfortable jumping on a plane for a marketing event.

Instead, focus on networking and building within your own community. Host local events on relevant topics with organizations you may normally not connect with.

Boost Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Now is a great time to focus on those key accounts that truly matter.

Boost your marketing to support loyal accounts and reach out to new ones. Keep an eye on different market fluctuations to see if you should scale back marketing for certain companies and move towards another.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Let current accounts know you value their business with gifts, email campaigns, freebies, and discounts if you can.

Hone Your Branding

Organizations may have scaled back their B2B marketing budget for now but things could change any moment. Eventually, most companies will jump back into action.

Focus on your brand awareness and messaging. Create informative, valuable, and relevant pieces of content to connect with your audience. Just make sure to avoid presenting yourself as an opportunist: look for ways to help, not exploit.

Drive ROI from Your B2B Marketing Budget with the Power of AI

If you’re scaling back your B2B marketing budget, it may be smart to look towards artificial intelligence. AI is more accessible than ever and it can help you stretch every dollar as far as possible.

With AI-driven tools, every visitor to your website gets a completely hyper-personalized experience – whether they’re a known lead or anonymous visitor. Just like Netflix, an AI engine uses behavioral data and third-party intent data to learn about your visitors and offer personalized content recommendations.

AI and machine learning are perfect for boosting visibility, earning trust, and nurturing leads. Remember that B2Bs spend nearly half of the buyer journey researching independently. They spend only 17% of their time reaching out to potential suppliers.

Your website is your best asset for educating leads about your company and how you can help them. Tools like adaptive content hubs and self-nurturing landing pages allow your leads to research at their own pace without the burden of filling out a form or committing to a phone call with your sales team.

The Hushly AI engine with machine learning offers the technology you need to create a completely unique experience for every visitor to your site during every session. See Hushly’s AI engine in action now!

B2B Data Cleansing Isn’t Effective. You Need a Sustainable Strategy

B2B data cleansing

Data is paramount to all your marketing strategies – from personalization to social media targeting and content creation.

Unfortunately, most B2Bs aren’t working with the most accurate data.

In fact, 62% of organizations are relying on data up to 40% inaccurate to drive their marketing decisions.

This is extremely costly. In the long-term, it isn’t sustainable either.

Here’s what you can do about it.

B2B data cleansing

What is B2B Data Cleansing?

B2B data cleansing is exactly what it sounds like. You go through your database every so often (every month or quarterly depending on your organization) to:

  • Remove entries that were never correct to begin with
  • Update outdated entries
  • Find missing fields
  • Trash duplicate data

A routine data cleansing strategy is important because without clean intel on your leads, your marketing strategies are no use. Outdated, incomplete, duplicate, and incorrect information is extremely costly – especially over an extended period.

It costs $1 to scrub a bad piece of data before it enters your system and $10 to cleanse it later. However, if that single piece of bad data sits there in your system, it costs you $100 through poor business initiatives.

Why Isn’t a Data Cleansing Strategy Enough?

If you’re relying on data cleansing, that means your system is already plagued with incorrect information.

Plus, the act of B2B data cleansing itself is tedious and time-consuming. While software tools to help you cleanse data do exist, they still require human review and aren’t always effective. Just like malware and trojans can slip under your virus protection radar, bad data can go undetected for years.

Imagine how this can throw off high-risk strategies like account-based marketing?

It’s critical to keep your data clean from the moment it enters your system.

You should also employ tools that update your database automatically as information changes.

In B2C marketing, demographics don’t shift constantly: If someone is a college-educated young mother living in Tampa, you can reasonably assume those qualities won’t change over the next few years. If she moves, you can easily figure it out and adjust your tactics.

B2B marketing doesn’t enjoy the same luxury. Every year:

  • 30% of your leads will change jobs.
  • 34% of job titles/functions will change.
  • 34% of the accounts in your system will change their company names.
  • 37% of your leads will change their email address.

Now, how often do you think these pieces of information will change each month? On top of that, how often will the needs of your leads change daily?

A proactive data cleansing strategy ensures that you’re always basing your marketing and business decisions on the most accurate information possible.

What Can You Do Instead of Routine B2B Data Cleansing?

AI-driven solutions can help you make sure your data is always correct, complete, and up to date.

How often do you believe a lead fills out incorrect form fields just to access gated content on your site? It happens more frequently than you think!

The problem with bad data begins with your forms. Instead of gating all your content behind forms, let it breathe. Give your visitors a sample of each content asset. If they like what they see, give the option to provide a business email address and country location to download the rest – that’s it!

Artificial intelligence can take that verified business email and cross-reference it against publicly available information from sources like LinkedIn where leads provide their current company details.

You can still build comprehensive lead profiles with information like:

  • Company name
  • Job title and function
  • Company size

The difference is that your database will only contain clean data from the very beginning.

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Hushly

This special system also blocks all free email domains like Gmail and removes the risk of impersonation because it only collects verified business domains. You’ll never have to worry about fake leads ever again.

Artificial intelligence can also monitor your lead database in real-time and update changes as needed. Instead of retroactively running B2B data cleansing to clear out incomplete, incorrect, or outdated fields, you’ll always have accurate information to guide your strategies.

How to Make the Best Use of Your B2B Data

Once you have a clean database, you can run effective personalization strategies. Correct lead data helps you understand which companies are browsing your site so you can develop targeted content for account-based marketing strategies as well.

Personalization isn’t a choice anymore – your B2B leads expect it. However, B2B organizations are struggling to implement effective personalization strategies at scale.

Research shows 80% of B2B organizations will abandon their data-driven personalization strategies by 2025 citing low ROI. The cause? Siloed and inaccurate data.

Once you fix that problem, you can create the experience your B2B leads expect. Again, AI comes into the picture to put your data to work. By taking your collected lead data, anonymous browsing data, and third-party intent data, AI provides a personalized solution for every visitor.

Whether a visitor is a known lead or random visitor, they still get a completely unique experience. Some tools to make this happen include:

  • Adaptive Content Hubs: Your best content is organized in one convenient location. Once a visitor starts clicking and reading, the AI follows them around the site and recommends similar pieces of content based on earlier visitors with similar behavior and the current visitor’s behavior.
  • Self-Nurturing Landing Pages: Instead of relying on a visitor providing their email address, use data-driven AI solutions to start nurturing them right away. Just like Netflix, self-nurturing landing pages provide an endless stream of relevant content for each session.
  • Content-Driven Exit Intent Popups: Don’t ask for visitors to fill out a form as they leave your site. Instead, use popups that display personalized content recommendations based on their on-site browsing history and intent data!

These AI-driven tools let your data work for you by creating a hyper-personalized experience for everyone. People will stay on your site longer and conversion rates will skyrocket!

Are you ready to bring the power of artificial intelligence to your B2B marketing strategy? See Hushly in action now to get started!

B2B data cleansing

B2B Marketers Need to Prioritize Hyper-Personalization

hyper personalization

Now more than ever, the digital experience you provide can make the difference between loyal conversions and one-time bounces.

Business has shifted online in the wake of COVID-19. Twitter, for example, realized that the low overhead from remote work was too great to pass up.

B2B is no different. Every sector is looking to improve their marketing and cut corners without sacrificing quality.

That’s why hyper-personalization is so critical today. Not only does it create the unique experience your customers expect, but it also helps you squeeze the highest ROI out of your marketing budget.

What’s Wrong with Standard Personalization?

A personalized experience is mandatory for hooking first-time visitors, earning trust, educating your audience, and winning conversions. In fact, 85% of B2Bs say they expect personalized content during the very first touchpoint.

Despite its importance, only 20% of organizations are running effective personalization strategies. Even worse: The other 80% of businesses expect to completely abandon their data-driven personalization efforts by 2025 due to poor ROI.

Regular data-driven personalization falls short for a few reasons.

It’s Reactionary

Your website needs to provide personalized content in real-time – anything else won’t work.

Traditional personalization goes like this: A lead visits your website, you hope your content interests them, they sign up for your mailing list, you follow up with personalized emails and social media posts.

Nurturing should begin while leads are still on your website. Plus, B2B needs change as they go through the buying cycle. Retroactive personalization means you’re always two steps behind.

It Relies on Outdated, Incomplete, or Incorrect Data

If you haven’t noticed, people aren’t always truthful on lead magnet forms. Plenty of folks just don’t want to hand over their company details to every website they visit – let alone their primary email address.

Not only that, but 34% of job titles/functions, 34% of company names, and 37% of email addresses change every year. Every month, pieces of your database goes bad.

Sadly, 62% of organizations are relying on data 40% inaccurate to drive their personalization strategies.

You can’t write an essay on botany by referencing a medical textbook. Unfortunately, that’s essentially what 80% of B2Bs are trying to do with their personalization strategies.

It’s Not Truly Personalized

Yes, firmographics are important for learning about your audience, building account-based marketing strategies, and creating content itself.

However, segmenting your audience by firmographics to drive your personalization strategy isn’t enough. Why? Because it’s not truly personalized.

If you have three distinct audience segments with ten leads in each segment, the ten leads in each segment all have completely unique needs/problems. Plus, they’re all at distinct stages of the buying process.

Sure, you can bet that your content will be slightly more relevant for each segment, but it will never be personalized enough to address every visitor’s unique needs at every touchpoint.

What are the Benefits of Hyper-Personalization?

Hyper-personalization solves all the problems mentioned above:

  • It’s based on real-time interaction.
  • It uses the most up to date and accurate data.
  • It offers a unique experience for every visitor, every session.

If you haven’t launched a hyper-personalized experience yet, you might want to reevaluate your strategy.

By the end of 2018, only 9% of organizations (across both B2B and B2C) said they had finished implementing a hyper-personalized marketing strategy. Less than a third said they were working on it and nearly half were at least talking about it.

While many B2C companies have excelled at delivering hyper-personalized experiences to their visitors, however, B2B still lags.

Providing your B2B buyers with hyper-personalized experiences will set you apart from competitors. Plus, it’s just plain effective: 80% of organizations said hyper-personalization was either “somewhat” successful or “best-in-class” for meeting their goals.

What kind of goals? Well, brands say hyper-personalization helps nearly every other aspect of their marketing strategy – from learning about customers and applying insights to creating a better experience for customers:

Ascend2  

Unlike traditional personalization, hyper-personalized experiences create a positive cycle:

  • A lead visits your website
  • AI-driven tools analyze their browsing behavior and offer a personalized content selection.
  • The lead clicks on different pieces of content they find interesting.
  • The AI learns more about them and improves.
  • You can use this high-quality browsing data to create more blog posts, eBooks, and content assets.
  • You can follow up with highly personalized social media retargeting or email marketing campaigns.

You’re always working with the more current and accurate data possible to drive your marketing decisions. That’s why a hyper-personalized experience delivers instant engagement and ROI as well as long-term loyalty and conversions!

Bringing Netflix Hyper-Personalization to Your B2B Website

Artificial intelligence is the key to implementing a hyper-personalization strategy. Yes, it’s a lot like Netflix. Every visitor gets a completely unique experience – whether they’re a known lead, customer, or anonymous visitor.

That’s the beauty of AI-driven personalization: You don’t have to demand visitors hand over their personal information before you can start nurturing them with personalized content.

When someone arrives at your website, the AI engine kicks into action immediately using their browsing behavior and third-party intent data to understand their needs and stage of the buying cycle.

AI-driven personalization tools include:

  • Self-nurturing landing pages
  • Adaptive content hubs
  • Content-packed exit intent popups

As you can imagine, AI-driven personalization is especially handy for account-based marketing. If a visitor reads a blog you’ve written for non-profits or browses a case study for a specific vertical, the AI engine pays close attention to this. From there, it offers relevant pieces of content for their vertical or organization.

You can then use these on-site analytics to consider which accounts to target in the future.

Hyper-personalization doesn’t end when someone gives you their email address either.

Instead of asking leads to give you their name, company name, company size, and all other types of details, the AI handles it. The system cross-checks every entry’s business email address with public information on LinkedIn to build comprehensive profiles.

In other words, your database is always accurate.

Wondering how AI-driven hyper-personalization can improve your B2B website experience? Learn about how it works and what it looks like in action!