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B2B Marketers Leveraging Machine Learning For 1:1 Personalization

  • Written by Karl Wirth, Evergage
  • Published in Demanding Views
Karl Wirth EvergageAs a consumer, I expect the companies I interact with to personalize my experiences. If they don’t, they risk not being relevant to me. And if they aren’t relevant to me, I’ll take my business somewhere else. 

 Here’s an example. My primary bank — where I have my main credit card and mortgage — proactively reached out to me with an email about refinancing and home equity loans. I started to consider it after visiting the landing page that was linked to the email. But when I returned to my bank’s website later that day, it showed no knowledge of who I was. It didn’t mention loans or rates. I even went back to the site several times over the week as I comparison-shopped other banks — going so far as to put my information on the site’s loan calculator. My intent couldn’t have been clearer. But the bank didn’t take any of this into consideration and didn’t turn it into an opportunity to talk to me in a personalized manner. Eventually, I took out a loan with another bank. 

My bank provided a generic experience — one that remains the same for every visitor. It isn’t alone in its approach. I run into these types of experiences all of the time, and you probably do too. How many times have you received an email from one of your favorite retailers announcing a sale in a category you’ve never shopped (like baby clothes if you’re not a parent or lawn care when you live in a high-rise apartment)? In your work life, how many times have you gone to a company’s website and been shown a video you’ve already seen for an industry that isn’t yours? With everything these companies know about us, there is no reason to deliver generic experiences that miss the mark for most people. 

The State Of Personalization Today

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The problem is not that marketers don’t want to deliver personalized, 1:1 experiences to their prospects and customers. It’s that they haven’t been able to. In fact, marketers have been promised the possibility of 1:1 personalization for 25 years when it hasn’t been technologically possible. But it is possible now with the machine learning and real-time processing capabilities we have today. I wrote the book One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning with my colleague, Katie Sweet, to help marketers understand the past, present and future of 1:1 personalization. 

Today, more advanced B2B marketers are leveraging personalization in creative ways. For example, business continuity solution provider Datto is using personalization to improve blog engagement by delivering 1:1 blog recommendations to each visitor. Mendix, which provides a platform to create mobile and web applications, is using personalization as part of its ABM strategy — promoting industry-appropriate content assets directly into its site navigation for each person. These companies and others are improving engagement and conversions and, more importantly, providing more relevant experiences to their visitors. 

Yet, companies like these tend to be in the minority. Typically, B2B personalization is not as advanced as B2C personalization. And while providing a generic experience may be acceptable for some B2B companies for now, it’s important to remember that business buyers are consumers too, and their expectations are constantly being redefined by the Amazons and Netflixes of the world. In the not-so-distant future, business buyers will demand the same type of 1:1 experiences they are receiving from the other companies they interact with.

Looking TThe Future

B2B marketers will increasingly find that they need to recognize who their visitors are and what they are looking for — at the individual and account level. They will need to deliver relevant content, images and calls-to-action to these visitors in order to capture their attention in a world crowded with competing content. 

When they can accomplish that, business buyers no longer have to dig around a site to find the resources they need to make a decision. Websites will seamlessly deliver content targeted to the visitor’s industry, preferences and stage of the funnel. 


 

Karl Wirth is the CEO and co-founder of Evergage, which provides real-time personalization to more than two billion web visitors and application users. You can obtain a free digital copy of his book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning, here.