In the current content and email-saturated landscape, B2B marketing and sales professionals are constantly challenged with crafting relevant messages that stand out from a sea of “Hello, [first name]” subject lines. Naturally, the topic of personalization is often talked about in content marketing and sales enablement, but what many organizations don’t realize is that delivering personalized messages to acquire new business is much different than personalizing for existing customers.
Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer at Corporate Visions, a marketing and sales messaging, content and skills training company, will take the stage at the first-ever B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange. He will introduce audiences to new research, best practices and use case examples of how companies are crafting relevant and customized messages for both sales and marketing that align with core goals of acquiring new customers and expanding business with current clients.
In this exclusive Q&A, Riesterer shares some insights from his research, as well as a sneak peek into his keynote at #B2BSMX, taking place on August 12-13 at the brand-new Encore Boston Harbor.
Demand Gen Report: At the B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange, you’ll be sharing your insights on best practices for crafting relevant and customized messages for sales and marketing. Can you share what you hope to teach attendees on this topic that strays from how they’ve been typically creating content to appeal to prospects and customers?
Tim Riesterer: The first thing that we're going to identify is that customer acquisition, messaging — whether it's marketing or sales driven — is different than customer expansion messaging. We've got new research to prove that the psychology of the prospect and how to win new business is different than the psychology of an existing customer and how to renew and upsell existing business.
DGR: Why is it becoming increasingly more important for brands to come up with separate, distinct and personalized messaging strategies to support their business goals?
Riesterer: I think what companies are starting to realize is that 70% to 80% of their revenue and growth in a given year comes from existing customers, and they need to spend more time and effort cultivating that. As a result, [companies] need to identify specific, dedicated strategies for that piece of the business.
We've got other research that I'm going to share that shows that the of majority companies —78% to 80% of companies — spend less than 30% of their marketing and content revenue on existing, customer-driven programs. In fact, they spend the vast majority (over 70%) on new logo acquisition. What we're seeing now is a realization that maybe needs to be redistributed in areas where the real opportunity exists.
The other thing I would say is that as more companies are creating subscription-based relationships with their customers, they're spreading the potential opportunity and revenue over time, as opposed to taking it up front. It’s the idea of renewing customers and continuing to expand, upsell and add-on sell. The need to deliver effective apologies in case of service failures is becoming even more pronounced because more of the company's revenue stream is pushed out over time. As a result, I would say that it’s an increased risk if companies can't renew, keep and grow customers.
DGR: What trends are you currently finding in B2B personalization, and what have you found to be most successful when it comes to acquisition and retention?
Riesterer: Interestingly, we've done research in the area of new customer acquisition personalization because with existing customers, you should have plenty of information to personalize … you've got specific experiences, you've got documented results and impact that you've provided. You have an understanding of what their initiatives are. So, personalization of existing customers is pretty well-defined by what you know from that relationship, and it should be reflected in regular meetings, such as quarterly or executive business reviews.
The real question about personalization is what personalization is most effective when you're trying to acquire a new logo. We've got a controlled field study that shows that people are over-engineering personalization. When you look at the things that matter like click-throughs and meetings set (if you take an ABM prospecting campaign, for example), we see that putting in contact-specific personal information and target company-specific information is less effective than industry-based insights and personalization.
The irony is that the contact- and company-specific personalization had higher open rates, but the industry-based personalization had higher click-throughs and meetings set in our study. In fact, it had 24% higher click-throughs, and it had almost 50% higher meetings set (the test audience that experienced the industry-level personalization versus the personal- and company-level personalization). We've got some theories on that based on the science of decision-making.
DGR: What else can attendees expect to learn from your presentation at the B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange?
Riesterer: We took a look at the use of pronouns and how you refer to somebody in your new business, ABM-based communications, as well as levels and degrees of personalization. I think in both cases, the answers are surprising and different than what most people are attempting to do today, according to our studies.
DGR: What are you hoping to learn more about at the B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange?
Riesterer: I'm trusting and hoping there's going to be a real discussion between sales and marketing in this area because of what we identify as a conversion gap, which is when leads get generated, but first calls are failures. We think there's a lot of leads being generated, and salespeople are being poorly equipped to handle that first call because they're being trained on different things than what the lead gen is producing. For example, a company does something on a very important initiative, a topic or a hot issue in the market, but salespeople are being trained on products and solution areas. There's just a disconnect between what demand gen is putting out to generate leads and the hand raisers and what sales people are being trained on.
I'm looking forward to a conference that can actually serve both groups and bring marketing and sales together because so many conferences today are one or the other. I'm looking forward to a conference that actually will sort of transcend the different departments and create the kind of dialogue and share the kind of information needed to truly fix this conversion gap.