Personalising messages is an important and accepted way of delivering more valuable and relevant marketing. This can in turn have a positive knock-on effects on ROI. But in the ongoing battle to deliver a more sophisticated marketing message, moving beyond personalised e-mail greetings and product recommendations is a holy grail for marketers.
Singapore Round Table
A recent round table discussion at Econsultancy and IBM’s BusinessConnect event in Singapore gave some prominent marketers a forum to share the challenges and opportunities that personalisation presents. All of the individuals present were working towards personalisation, although each person present was at different stages of the personalisation journey.
But all were interested in discussing how senior individuals within their organisations could be convinced to buy into personalisation as a concept. What was agreed initially was that simply having the capabilities to implement personalisation does not necessarily translate into possessing all the answers.
By the same token, it is sometimes difficult to convince the money men of the value of personalisation, as the impact is not always immediately apparent. In fact, when examining target content delivery at different stages of the purchase funnel, it can be difficult to truly quantify the influence of personalisation. This obviously makes arguing in favour of personalisation difficult in a culture in which management often wants to see instant results.
With this in mind, the discussion established several key principles of personalisation that marketers should pay particular heed to.
As with all marketing techniques, personalisation is based on data, and the effective collection and cleansing of this data is therefore essential. Acquiring data from social media and other social sources can be useful, but one must bear in mind that this can often encompass inaccurate information.
Thus, any data emanating from social channels must be checked very diligently and cleansed before it can be fed into any CRM or personalisation system. The value of social data is massive, but companies should not delude themselves as to the potential pitfalls and logistical difficulties involved in extracting the information.
Delivering the right content to the right person at the right time can be a challenge, but this is absolutely essential to the process of personalisation. It is therefore important to take into consideration content types, buying personas, and the stage of the purchase funnel. Ensuring marketing messages are both timely and relevant is unquestionably a big challenge, and even those president had more questions than answers in this department.
Developing customer personas for B2B marketing can also be a challenge. The crux of the issue is how much weight to give to a person’s role, as opposed to the company that they work for. For example, whether communications be personalised on the basis of the person working as a CTO, all should it instead reflect the fact that they work for a hotel chain, is an area of consideration.
Considering that B2B companies that target small businesses typically have a hugely vast and diverse audience, it is important to ensure that marketing messages delivered are uniquely relevant and diverse in nature as well.
It is also important for marketers intending to make progress with personalisation to understand that the sales funnel is typically far longer for B2B than B2C. It can also tend to lead to a higher value conversions, which ensures that softer metrics have more importance as lead nurturing is a more intricate process.
The problem with this longer funnel is that internal teams within companies can often be focused on the number of leads generated from marketing campaigns as opposed to any longer term impact. This is a general issue for coping with personalisation; businesses wants to see instant results, and personalisation is very much focused on a longer game. Understanding metrics can help to mitigate this problem.
Despite the challenges that marketers face in developing more sophisticated personalised marketing, it is still something well worth pursuing. Statistics indicate that effective personalised marketing can improve customer retention, make marketing more useful and significantly increase conversion rate.
All of these advantages are obviously beneficial to any business in any industry. But it can take time for personalisation to significantly impact upon these vital statistics, and even when it does sometimes proving the causality can be a challenge. The digital marketers should bear in mind that consumers are increasingly looking for personalised experiences in an ever more demanding retail space.
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