marketing automation and personalization

These days, more and more B2B marketers are incorporating a personalization platform as part of their martech stack. Why? Like consumers, B2B buyers are all unique. As humans, we all respond better to marketing messages when we’re treated as individuals by a company that truly knows us, as opposed to being treated like everyone else. And, as a result of the personalized experiences we receive from more and more sites across the web, we are growing to expect personalization from all companies we interact with.

According to our recent research, 72% of marketers are personalizing their email communications – typically using their marketing automation platform (MAP). And 57% are personalizing experiences on their websites – which generally goes beyond the capabilities of the MAP. Also, 55% of marketers who aren’t currently using website personalization plan to do so this year. And 46% of marketers expect an increase in their budget for personalization in the next year (up from 35% last year).

Clearly, marketers recognize the importance of personalization in the buyer’s journey. And there are clear benefits to using both a marketing automation and personalization platform together to improve that journey – down to the individual level. I’ll explain a few of those key benefits in this blog post.

More complete profiles for contacts in your MAP

While your MAP provides you with some behavioral tracking such as visits, form submits, and email opens/clicks by your prospects, it doesn’t tell the whole story. There is more to understanding a person and their interests than those data points alone. Deeper engagement data is needed to uncover true interests and intent at the individual and account level. (For more detail and examples on why you need deep engagement data to truly understand your prospects, check out this blog post).

A personalization platform, such as Evergage, tracks deeper behavioral data and uses it to build a complete profile of each of the visitors on your site – at the individual and account levels. That profile contains not just attribute data but also engagement metrics including time spent by page, downloads, mouse movements, scrolling activity, etc. against which machine learning models are applied to determine preferences and affinities and intent. Which topics does he favor? What solution areas has he and others in his company explored? What types of content does he read most often?

Once you have this information, along with transactional and attribute data from your MAP, you can use it to create highly relevant, personalized experiences across channels — from web to mobile to email.

Open-time emails with relevant, personalized content

Once you bring your marketing automation and personalization platform data together, you can send emails with relevant content that is more personalized than the MAP alone can provide. For example, you can create segments in your personalization platform of visitors that have demonstrated certain levels of engagement or areas of interest, pass those segments to your MAP, and then send emails to those groups via the MAP.

Or, even better, with a personalization platform that supports open-time personalization, you can recommend particular eBooks, blog posts, or other content to visitors inside an email based on individual preferences. Those preferences don’t need to be manually identified and segmented — they can be driven by machine-learning algorithms that deliver personalized recommendations for each email recipient and update that content when the email is opened, rather than when the email is sent. This allows you to reflect any new behaviors that take place on the site so the email is as relevant as possible when opened. For example, if a visitor has already downloaded an eBook between when the email was sent and when it was opened, the email would recommend a new asset rather than waste the opportunity with an outdated recommendation.

Personalized web or app experiences for anonymous visitors

Another benefit of linking your marketing automation and personalization platforms is the ability to personalize website content for anonymous visitors — the prospects that you do not currently have contact information for in your MAP. Personalizing the content of your website can serve a few different purposes. It can help you reduce bounce rate by allowing you to personalize the first page a person lands on to their industry, company, source, geolocation, and more. It can also help you improve engagement, by encouraging the visitor to stay on the site with relevant content that continues to capture his attention.

And, most importantly, if you have a robust lead nurturing program, personalization can help drive conversions of anything you have behind a form. For example, if an anonymous visitor arrives to your site from a Google search, you won’t yet have her email address in your MAP. That means that once she leaves the site, you have no way to include her in your nurture program even if she demonstrated interest in your solutions. The solution? Conversion rate optimization via personalization. If you personalize the content on your site to her preferences, further tailoring the site as she engages and you learn more about her, you can algorithmically recommend the most appropriate gated content for her to download and then capture her email address.

These are just a few examples of personalizing experiences for visitors early in their journeys. For more detail on how you can personalize your website to prospects along the entire B2B journey, check out this blog post.

Referral source attribution

Finally, connecting your marketing automation and personalization platform can help you better measure the attribution of your acquisition campaigns. When someone clicks through from an email or an ad but doesn’t convert on that visit, the story isn’t over. That person can convert during a future visit to your site. If you can’t recognize the original source for a visitor, however, you may be underestimating the value of your acquisition campaigns. Your personalization platform will be able to help you measure the true attribution of your acquisition campaigns, as it can recognize the first and last source of each visitor.

And once you are able to better attribute your acquisition campaigns to conversions, you can increase the ROI of those campaigns by providing relevant content to each visitor that arrives from them, regardless of when they visit your site, to help encourage them to convert.

Marketing Automation and Personalization Wrap Up

As a marketer, you probably have a lot going on in your tech stack. In addition to your MAP and CRM solutions, you may also use a lot of other tools ranging from social media management, paid advertising, analytics, A/B testing, SEO, and much more. With all these different, and often fragmented, solutions at your disposal, it’s critical to ensure that any additional solution you add to your tech stack genuinely improves your demand generation results, improves the prospect/customer experience, and seamlessly integrates with your other tools.

Earlier this month, Jamie Smith, Director of Marketing Automation at SFCG, and I presented the webinar entitled “Evergage & Eloqua: How Real-Time Personalization Can Augment Marketing Automation.” Watch the webinar replay for more information about the value of personalization, along with lots of real-world examples and a few tips and tricks for using Evergage and Oracle Eloqua (a leading marketing automation solution) together.