Why Agility, Not Just Automation, Is the Key to Unlocking Personalization

B2B marketing has a personalization problem, and it's getting so bad that it's actually preventing us from building the digital buyer experience that we know our buyers would love.

One marketer, quoted in Evergage's \"2020 Trends in Personalization\" report, even went so far as to say, \"We need to do a better job of personalizing the experience, content, timing, etc., and not just the basic elements like the person's name.\" In fact, that same report goes on to explain that 74% of surveyed companies personalize email campaigns based on first name while only 25% of those same surveyed companies personalize email campaigns with tailored messaging and promotions per individual.

Doesn't that seem a little bit like spending more on a car's paint than the car itself?

Automation Is a Muscle, But It's Not the Only One

A large reason why we've ended up in such a weird mess is due to the meteoric rise in popularity of marketing automation platforms. Now don't get me wrong. I'm no Luddite, and I wholeheartedly believe that MarTech has dramatically improved how B2B marketing is executed on a daily basis. But we can't solve all our marketing problems with a \"set and forget\" approach to automation. Marketing technology should be a tool to help us create and deliver better buyer experiences at scale.

The job of knowing our customers, researching what they care about, understanding what they're actively researching, and then responding with programs and content that cater to those specific needs - this is something that marketing technology should make it easier for us to do. In order to achieve this at a meaningful level, it's our job to connect our data and tools to what we know about our customers so that our interactions with our buyers, no matter when and where they occur, are as hyper-relevant as we can make them.

In our focus on automation and efficiency (which all comes from a good place), we've forgotten to exercise the marketing muscle related to being responsive to the needs of our buyers.

Focus On Impact, Not Effort

My favorite example of where current B2B personalization misses the mark also happens to be an example of the type of ABM program I consider to be most effective in the last year or so of COVID restrictions.

Even in the past 6 months alone, I've probably spoken to over a dozen different enterprise ABM teams who are interested in how to deliver a better buyer experience that goes beyond the traditional \"targeted ads\" play. Every one of them expressed particular interest in the idea of programmatically creating 1:1 account micro-sites for their key strategic accounts as a way of delivering a steady stream of content related to a specific account's journey and buying stage.

Now to provide some background, this is a program strategy that has shown repeated success, a perfect example being Marlowe Fenne at FireEye, who built highly tailored account portals for 50 enterprise accounts with a team of just two ABMers. Marlowe's ABM program has generated 5x more engagement per account that traditional marketing programs at FireEye, with more than half of his target accounts maturing to a VP or CxO level engagement. He attributes a large portion of his program's success to making sure his time to market is \"crazy off the hook\", meaning that he can \"add people in a couple of days into our program, and if needed to, within a couple of hours.\" It's personalization in its purest, most effective form, and it's possible entirely due to Marlowe's ability to get things done fast. Like really fast.

Despite the well-documented success of 1:1 micro-site or account portal programs, like what Marlowe and others like him have built, the same ABM teams I speak to who are looking for their next big win always express an intense anxiety around \"how much effort\" is required to support a program like this.

There's nothing wrong with being protective of time as a resource, but if we constantly avoid building marketing programs that require effort and active participation, we'll never be able to evolve beyond the kinds of \"set and forget\" campaigns which barely scratch the surface in terms of buyer engagement.

\"Audience interests shift organically all the time,\" explains Nick Thomas, Head of Partnerships at Turtl. \"Automation that doesn't evolve with those changing behaviors is inevitably going to miss the mark. There needs to be an element of active participation to keep it on track, feed it relevant data, and align it with your strategy.\"

Agility and Automation Together Fuel 1:1 Personalization Across the Funnel

With increased marketing agility and improved time to market comes an opportunity for marketing to help modernize the traditional sales cycle. Using automation as a tool to take on some of the heavy lifting, the key is to focus on making the buyer experience feel almost as if someone is behind the scenes customizing and curating everything specifically for the buyer.

The success of an active sales cycle is heavily reliant on the sharing of contextually relevant, personalized content. In other words, while the types of content being shared might differ from one stage of the customer lifecycle to the next, the content itself should always feel like it's speaking to the people engaging, not broadcasting at them.

One company championing this is Turtl, who has developed a platform for marketing and sales teams to efficiently and effectively personalize content at scale based on firmographic, demographic and behavioral data. Not only can you personalize Turtl content with surface-level touches like names and logos, but more importantly, you can personalize the content assets themselves, including or omitting sections as needed for further relevance. Many teams using Turtl today will even use Turtl's intelligent automation to embed custom creative, like videos or imagery, to make their content experience even more compelling and competitive. By hand, this process would be impossible to scale beyond just a few accounts, but Turtl is reinventing \"possible\" by automating this process to deliver hundreds of hyper-personalized pieces of content in a matter of seconds.

In this case, Turtl is a perfect example of how automation done right improves time to market AND boosts the buyer experience for your target accounts. Marketing and sales teams leveraging Turtl to create and deliver hyper-personalized content at scale can use their newfound time-savings to focus on gathering and actioning the insights needed to further improve the relevancy of their content and engagement strategy across different stages of the funnel.

To learn more about how personalization within the sales cycle has been redefined in a world that has quickly and suddenly become digital-first, check out Turtl's latest blog.