The Marketing Strategist:
Personalized B2B Marketing? Almost (but not quite) There…
The concept of treating buyers as individuals and tailoring offers specifically to their needs has been tantalizing B2B marketers for a long time. Now the combination of big data and sophisticated analytical tools is making the promise of marketing to segments of one in complex business environments seem closer to reality.
Except for one snag. There is still a gap between those marketing aspirations and capabilities. What does that mean? Marketers still need to spend time and resources discovering customer insight, doing market research, and mapping the buyer’s journey to create effective content and successful engagement tactics.
Mapping the buyer journey
Our annual How Buyers Choose research can help. This multinational buyer behavior study is an excellent starting point for uncovering answers for personalizing the customer experience. Augmenting that detailed data with agile ‘test and learn’ processes, along with valuable real-time data, will enable B2B marketers to get much further much faster.
Let’s look at how the survey data can be an important component of a more in-depth buyer profile. In this instance, I have created two journey maps: one for business and one for IT executives.
The two maps highlight some striking similarities as well as differences. For example, both IT and business executives rely on the same information sources during the epiphany stage of the buying process. Peers and colleagues top the list for both.
However, unlike their business counterparts, IT executives are more likely to tap into the knowledge of solution provider sales reps to keep up with industry trends and seek business insights.
Other notable differences include:
- When researching solutions and solutions providers at the awareness stage, business executives gravitate to case studies and ask peers and colleagues for their input. IT executives, on the other hand, prioritize thought leadership and analysts’ advice.
- When selecting short list contenders at the knowledge stage, business experts lean toward fresh ideas and innovation, whereas IT specialists rate in-person events.
- When it comes to making the final decision, once price has been taken into account, IT and business executives diverge. The former want deep knowledge of their company’s industry and business needs plus a proven track record. The IT buyers are more concerned with quantifiable value, trustworthiness, and experience with the solution/technology.
- Finally, during the loyalty phase, when buyers seek to maximize value received, business executives yet again favor case studies along with best practices. Their IT colleagues stress information about industry trends and research.
Buyers increasingly want to work with companies that can provide highly-tailored, omnichannel marketing. One day technology might do it all for you. Till then, equipping yourselves with effective insights through in-depth research is still the way to form profitable and enduring customer relationships.
How Buyers Choose 2017
ITSMA’s latest survey has analyzed the data in six ways, by:
- Solution type
- Job role
- Size of company