The Journey: Why does B2B personalization fail?
A few years ago, we noticed that as we added more features, configuration options, and units to the Trendemon platform, our customers’ usage stats (time spent on our system) was steadily growing.
Great, right? Well…
After taking a closer look, we saw a different picture: our customers were spending more and more time creating, managing and optimizing their website personalization campaigns. The more options they had, the more time they had to spend to operate the system.
In fact, when we spoke to them, we realized that many were actually frustrated with the amount of time they spent setting up different campaigns and tests to deliver the outcomes they wanted.
Return on effort was being decimated. We needed to find a way to move from the top right to the top left:
Using B2C approaches to personalize B2B was a bad idea
We realized that taking the common B2C approach of running many experiments, campaigns and experiences in the B2B environment was not sustainable or effective.
There were several reasons for this:
- Team size – B2B marketing teams are usually smaller with a growing number of tools and tasks. Getting them to run many website campaigns and managing many experiments was too much work.
- Traffic – B2B websites get fewer visitors than their B2C counterparts. This means that running more experiments doesn’t mean better results or more accurate insights.
- Stages – The B2B buyer journey is long. In some cases, we’re talking years. Understanding what to serve visitors depends on their individual stage in the journey. Are they just starting to be aware of the pain, exploring different approaches and solutions or looking for vendors?
- Content – Information is the yellow brick road that B2B buyers walk on. Without proper roads (content), buyers easily get stuck or have to spend too much time and effort figuring out whether a problem, solution or vendor are relevant for them.
- Account-based – If things aren’t complex enough, let’s throw in the fact that B2B decisions are usually made by a group of people, and not a single individual. This means you have to multiply the stage and content challenges to fit different personas from the same account. Fun stuff…
This is why in many cases personalization in B2B seems and sounds more like a disparate group of sounds rather than a harmonious orchestra. Although B2B buyers are acting more and more like consumers in the purchasing process, the environments in which those decisions take place are vastly different.
Taking a new approach to B2B personalization
We had to adopt a new point of view regarding B2B personalization (personalize the personalization if you will…), to one that is more holistic and focused on integrating fragmented elements into one cohesive melody.
Journey Orchestration is the art/science of managing and personalizing the ENTIRE buyer journey, rather than customizing specific touch points along its path. This is an end-to-end approach of managing and optimizing the full buyer experience – from first touch point until conversion.
Based on the specific challenges that B2B marketers face, we developed an approach and system that better fits their needs.
6 months ago we released Autonomous Journey Orchestrations. Instead of manually configuring individual campaigns, users could let the machine manage the ENTIRE content experience and journey – from first anonymous website visit down to the sales opportunity.
Autonomous Orchestrations connect the 3 core aspects of B2B marketing: the audience, the goal and the content or offer. Using this system, we can automatically serve the right content experience at the right stage in a buyer’s journey, continuously iterating to find the best results, and ultimately convert anonymous website traffic into sales.
Here are the performance results so far when we compare orchestrations to campaigns:
- Click-through-rate on content (CTR) – Autonomous orchestration’s CTR is 122% higher compared to manually optimized campaigns.
- Conversions to business goals – 96% higher than manual campaigns!
And what about the overhead and effort? Autonomous Journey Orchestrations drastically reduced the time marketers had to spend operating our app to reach those figures. It also didn’t require running dozens of creatives, experiments or copy suggestions.
However, there is one caveat.
Building effective journeys and experiences does require good quality, engaging, educational content, suited for different target personas and audiences. Without it, no amount of experimentation or personalization can help.