By Noah Logan, Upland Software
The sales and marketing funnel is dramatically different now than it was just less than 10 years ago. According to Forrester Research, today's B2B buyers may go up through at least two-thirds of their buying journey before actually speaking with a vendor. To keep the interest of these prospects, marketers must provide content that is valuable to each of their buyers at various stages of their buying journey, and what is valuable to customers will vary based on their position, industry and stage of their journey. They must then deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.
Providing a more targeted, personalized content experience will significantly boost conversions and drive business results. The nice part is – it’s not hard to do, even for non-technical marketers. Here are five ways to easily and quickly get started on website personalization.
1. Know Your Personas
Before you get started on personalization, you must know your personas. Personas are fictional profiles of the actual people in the buying process, and you need to identify them before you can create content for them. It’s critical to understand characteristics such as: What information are they looking for throughout the buying process? What motivates them? What deters them from buying? What are their responsibilities and objectives? What role do they have in the purchase – are they a decider or an influencer? What’s going to make them want to do business with you, or suddenly drop off? Gaining a clear understanding of your personas gives you the insight you need to create valuable content with which to target your prospects throughout their buying journey.
2. Start Listening
The decisions you make – deciding how to segment your audience, understanding what your audience is interested in, what and how you should personalize – is based on data. In order to confidently know who your prospects are and what they need, you must have a robust data strategy in place. This is key to ensuring that you are getting content to website visitors that is optimal for where they are in their buying process. To be successful at providing an effective personalized experience, your data must tell you:
• Who your website visitors are: this will validate or enlighten you on your personas.
• Where your visitors came from: this allows you to better tailor the experience based on their industry and referring sites. Which company are they from, and did they arrive here from a search result, or a competitor’s site? Based on this data, you know what type of information to give them upon their visit. For example, if they’re coming from the manufacturing industry, provide case studies on your similar customers.
• What your visitors do once they’re on your site and what they’re seeking: this will let you know what they’re interested in, and what types of needs they’re aiming to meet. If they are returning visitors, you can leverage their past site experiences to provide more relevant content for them. For example, if they have viewed particular data sheets, downloaded whitepapers and viewed webinars on a particular product, offer them a product demo.
As you implement a more sophisticated personalization strategy, you will also need to know:
• How your visitors progress through profile levels: defined by aspects such as a visitor’s lead score and how much information is known about a visitor. This will allow you to see how they’re moving through their buyer’s journey and which content may be best to move them forward
• How each visitor’s lead score is changing as they engage with content: this will give you insights on how to turn visitors into more qualified leads, and how to focus on the most qualified leads
The correct data is critical to empowering marketing and sales to highly target their conversations to the specific needs of the individual.
3. Know Your Content
How do you want to personalize your content – by industry? By buying stage? By persona? Audit your content so that you know what you have available to you. Then mark which content is relevant for which purpose. For example, tag which content you are going to leverage, and then classify that content by how you want to target it (industry, personas, etc.).
4. Put Audience Segmentation in Place
You can define any number of audience segments however you wish, including by geography, industry, job function, company size, etc., but it is a good idea to start with just a few. As you advance, you can always add more segments. Next, create segment rules so that certain content is delivered to certain segments at certain times. When you’re ready to go further, your rules can include targeting visitors within a specific segment with questions via download forms, enabling you to gather more information on them and further refine how you’re targeting them with content.
5. Decide What to Personalize
You don’t need to have your entire personalization strategy figured out right away. Start smaller before you execute a larger, more sophisticated personalization strategy. For example, start with personalizing just one aspect of your homepage. Then, leveraging your analytics, personalize the most commonly visited pages by persona. Eventually, you can target each visitor with content dynamically tailored to their needs and interests based on what type and how much content they’ve engaged with, how many times they’ve visited your site and at what stage they are in their buying process. This will allow you to align each visitor at their current stage with the information relevant to their needs, helping to nudge them along their purchasing path.
Getting started with your personalization strategy is pretty easy, and the good news is that you don’t need several tools to do it. Today’s more advanced Web content management platforms already provide the personalization capabilities and analytics you need. Now go get started.
Noah Logan is the general manager of Clickability at Upland Software, a cloud-based project, portfolio and work management software applications provider for enterprises.