A Helpful Model of the Four Stages of Personalization Maturity

Since the vast majority of your website visitors are anonymous, a goal for any marketer should be to find ways to turn those eyeballs into addressable prospects. The anonymous visitor opportunity grows bigger every day and, if left ignored, can cost companies real revenue.

Today, many marketers are realizing that their best chance at audience identification is by serving highly targeted content that drives prospects to convert faster.

Marketers easily can get information about their anonymous traffic by using analytics platforms that uncover where visitors are located, their basic demographics, the technology they use, and more. For additional functionality and to make the data actionable, companies can choose to use data services and personalization software to identify anonymous visitors and automatically serve relevant content. When all that is done correctly, the opportunities and long-term benefits are clear. Personalization can deliver 5X to 8X the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales by 10% or more, according to Harvard Business Review.

However, there is perceived complexity with personalization because it requires more content and a well-examined buyer’s journey. As a result, many companies choose to take a crawl-walk-run approach.

We recently partnered with MarketingProfs on a poll to understand what B2B marketers are doing today around personalization.

Poll Results

In regards to content personalization by channel, the poll results show that 71% of B2B marketing organizations are personalizing emails based on audience. There is a growing opportunity around personalizing content on the website, with 32% of respondents doing that. This means that a true personalized journey for the vast majority of buyers is broken. Buyers might receive relevant content via mail marketing, but that experience breaks down when website visitors are presented with generic content that doesn’t reflect their industry, buyer’s stage, product interest, location, etc.

To present personalized content across multiple channels, you must access data to segment your audience

Marketers don’t lack audience data; it is easily accessed within marketing automation platforms, CRM platforms, website analytics platforms, data-management platforms, and content management platforms. But bringing it together has been a challenge for marketers.

So, how much data integration have B2B marketers done today?

Some 29% have linked two marketing platforms and 24% have linked three marketing platforms, according to the MarketingProfs poll. Some 20% have linked more than three platforms.

Through our work with B2B marketers, we’ve learned that there isn’t one “right” path that companies must take as they implement cross-channel personalization. Rather, multiple paths lead to it.

However, we have found a few critical areas for a successful personalization program. They are strategy, leadership, data, content personalization, measurement, and learning. Whether you are just beginning your personalization journey or have been at it for some time, paying close attention to those areas can make a world of difference in the success of your program.

To that end, we developed a maturity model to help B2Bs understand the initiatives and deliverables in each phase of personalization maturity. The model can help B2Bs understand where they are against their peers and what is needed to get to the next stage.

Let’s take a look at the stages.

Stage 1: Awareness

The marketing team is struggling with problems such as generic content’s underperformance, the lack of insight into anonymous traffic, little to no segmentation of audience, and underperforming paid media. Typically, one member of the team champions personalization and begins looking for answers.

Stage 2: Connected

The idea of personalization is prioritized by the rest of the organization, and the focus becomes enabling the technology to support the short- and long-term personalization strategy of the company.

Organizations bring together their disparate marketing platforms (such as CRM, MAP, DMP, CMS, and ABM).

Often, companies in this stage are doing some email personalization and using a marketing automation platform, such as Marketo or Eloqua.

Now, they can go even deeper. With customer and prospect data together, they can begin to learn about their audience and content effectiveness. With actionable data, they can begin planning for cross-channel personalization.

Stage 3: Targeted

Organizations use connected data to begin personalizing content on the brand.com site. They are using segments defined in their MAP, CRM, or ABM to drive simple personalization experiments on the site to determine the effects of relevance on conversion.

Armed with personalization results, they can begin creating the use case for wider company adoption.

Stage 4: Optimized

Connected personalization is rolled out company-wide.

Channels become less important as teams work together to ensure that relevant, sequenced content can be rolled out, based on engagement, across paid media, social media, the website, and email.

Content is developed with clear segments in mind, and personalization becomes an embedded function within each marketing department.

Usually in this phase, every marketing department is doing personalization, and the company looks to hire a vice-president of personalization to oversee efforts.

To learn more about each stage in the maturity model, including initiatives and deliverables, and what it takes to move to the next stage, download the complete document at GetSmartContent.

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