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Segmentation, Personalization Becoming A Reality For B2B Marketers With Emergence Of AI And Real-Time Analytics

  • Written by Ariella Brown, Contributing Writer
  • Published in Industry Insights
Featured Segmentation, Personalization Becoming A Reality For B2B Marketers With Emergence Of AI And Real-Time Analytics

The patience for “spray-and-pray” emails is continuing to shrink, and sophisticated B2B buyers are increasingly expecting and demanding relevant and targeted messaging.

Ernan Roman, President of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing, stated that customers know the difference between truly tailored and general marketing. He added that resorting to “spray-and-pray blast” marketing can backfire on brands due to the “relationship damage” they generate by showing that they talk at, but don’t listen to, their customers to deliver what they want.

Also, research from Marketo shows that 73% of the B2B customers surveyed agreed, “For brands or vendors to successfully engage me, they must have a deep understanding of my needs.”  The research also showed 66% said they “expect all of [their] interactions with brands or vendors to be personalized.”

Fortunately for B2B marketers, new advancements in real-time data analytics, AI and machine learning are making advanced segmentation and personalization possible, even across complex industries and buying groups.

Customizing The Conversation

While varying levels of segmentation have been available within marketing automation platforms for years, those vendors are using advancements in machine learning and predictive intelligence to take customizing the conversation to the next level.

For example, Act-On Software has introduced its Adaptive Journeys solution, which is designed to help marketers recognize behaviors, preferences and interests that can be used to adapt messaging, distribution timing and optimal channel selection for more personalized engagement.

Paige Musto, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Act-On Software said the solution “will enable marketers to connect with buyers and customers in more personalized ways, creating customized engagements at scale.”

One of the components of the Adaptive Journeys solutions is the Adaptive Segmentation feature, which can dynamically create lists of engaged contacts using data from CRM, web forms or other behavior insights.

Act-On Software has also recently announced a partnership with Evergage, a leading personalization platform, to enable marketers to use email engagement data to automatically adapt a buyer’s web and mobile app experience. “It is important for B2B marketers to invest in their customer relationships and the technologies that empower them to leverage real-time behavior data to deliver relevant, one-to-one interactions. Companies that learn to harness engagement data to offer individualized experiences for the end-user will have a competitive advantage in the age of the customer,” Musto added.

Welcoming Web Visitors

While most B2B marketers are forced to wait for anonymous website visitors to raise their hand and identify themselves by filling out a form, advancements in AI are making it possible to connect online search activity with a visitor’s IP address to deliver a tailored web experience.

Demandbase CMO Peter Isaacson pointed out that capability is “based on AI and machine learning.” He explained, “It wasn’t possible to do this with a human programming all the algorithms,” considering “all of the contingencies involved.”

He added that advancements in AI over the past eight months have enabled marketers “to make connections and gain context and meaning.”

In this way, AI opens the possibilities of personalizing marketing, not just for the visitors who identify themselves, but even for those who anonymously visit a website. Given that 70% of visitors are considered anonymous, according to Isaacson, it makes a huge difference to be able to “really personalize the website” for those “that haven’t really identified themselves.”

Just as sales executives have had to adapt and learn more about the individual needs of their clients, marketers are now being expected to tailor every touch. Nick Bhavsar, SVP of Marketing at the personalization platform Get Smart Content, said that a one-size-fits-all marketing message no longer works in B2B and marketers can’t talk to different stakeholders the same way.

“A really good salesperson does this instinctively,” Bhavsar said. “Your site should be able to do that better than your best sales rep. That means it has to have the capability to have the most relevant conversations possible.”

With real-time analytics, he added that a personalization platform can “pull up information about the individual in less than 30 milliseconds,” and enable appropriate messaging to be delivered.

Adding Context To Outbound Ads

In addition to customizing digital campaigns and website experiences, B2B marketers are stepping up their segmentation for ad retargeting programs. For example, dynamic ads that serve highly relevant messages to target audiences based on search or other data have been common in B2C. But new technologies and integrations are making them more common and effective in B2B.

For example, AdRoll recently introduced its ABM solution, which is designed to help marketers target key personas at their named accounts, and create personalized ads and measure their impact by connecting to CRM and marketing automation platforms.

“A good marketing message and campaign needs to be personalized to the prospect's pain points, challenges and motivations in order to resonate,” said Jessica Cross, Senior Manager, Customer Lifecycle at AdRoll.   

The website management platform Pantheon engaged AdRoll to obtain more precise granularity for more efficient and effective targeted campaigns. For example, it was designed to not deliver new sign-up ads to existing customers, which is simply wasteful at best and off-putting at worst.  

The persona-based marketing approach allowed it to gain more leads and cut acquisition costs. A combination of prospecting and retargeting yielded a gain of over 2,600 net-new leads and dropped cost per acquisition (CPA) by more than 50% in less than a year.