Personalization at scale for acquisition and engagement

Imagine if H&M only sold size large men’s shirts because that is what the average male wears? What if they only sold size small women’s shirts because that is what the data showed was the average size for the female? They would be leaving so much money on the table, due to only producing for one category of customer. So, why do companies think it is fine to funnel customers to the same website, delivering the same content and messaging to each, if everyone is different? In this post, I want to shed light on how I believe technology companies can use data to drive persona based personalization.

For the purpose of this post, let’s say you run a B2B email marketing software company. Early on, you look at the players in the market and quickly come to the conclusion that you want to compete in the high-end category, focusing on a highly customizable product than the less premium competitors. You think you know your core target market in this case, but you have one big problem: you don’t want to narrow down a certain industry to go after.

Knowing of this problem, you build a landing page, lay out your pricing model, and leave open an email sign-up form to funnel leads to your sales team. You try an assortment of channels and find that content marketing is the one driving most of the leads in your company. But now, what do you do? You are producing great content on email design, best practices for testing, and more awesome topics, but since you’re bootstrapped, your sales team can’t keep up with all the leads, most of which are bad quality and have poor conversions.

This is where the concept of personalization at scale comes into play. With an ever-increasing amount of tools for data tracking, data enrichment, and other topics like lead scoring, it has become more applicable for marketers to narrow down into market segments to personalize experiences. There are two methods that I will cover to help this company, which could also be applied more broadly to any type of firm – (1) personalization as an acquisition method and (2) personalization to drive engagement.

Personalization-based acquisition

Instead of just collecting emails of prospects, you want to enrich this email data with as much information so that you can predict whether or not their company is even in your target market. Are they a large enterprise? Do they have a service that you have a competitor in that you can use as social proof? All of these questions are important to answer ahead of time, so that you can funnel more qualified leads to your sales team.

There are many methods to do this, it just requires some creativity. For example, for this B2B email marketing company, you can create a lead generation form that a user has to fill out to gain access to white-papers. This lead gen form requires a customer to input certain information, such as industry, size, etc. data. Taking this even a step further, you can ask for an email on the content page, enrich this with Clearbit’s Enrichment product, then pre-fill the lead gen form so that there is less friction of customer’s bouncing. This data can be pushed into a lead scoring model, and sent to your sales team to follow up on with personalized communications.

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Another example of this would be IP based personalization. For example, using a third-party service, you can enrich anonymous IP data of prospects reading your content, to find out company data. Then using this set of data, you can pinpoint a score for this company, and if it meets a certain threshold, run a series of re-targeting ads to key decision makers. Instead of throwing the re-targeting ads into the normal bucket of ads you are running, you can create customized marketing campaigns around the company, such as highlighting similar companies using your product, or tailored messaging that hits the specific pain point you predict they are having.

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Personalization-based engagement

This brings me to the second point around personalized based engagement. Providing a great experience is very important to any form of business. If a customer does not use a product or service, they will stop paying you, plain and simple. Enriching a customer’s profile to better tailor the experience for them is crucial to keeping them around. In the context of your email marketing company, are you finding that certain customers are only using a few features? Do they seem to have a bunch of campaigns set up to run, but haven’t launched them? Have they successfully designed an email using your software?

Again, there are many ways to use data to personalize your customer experience. I would suggest trying to build out a system that pulls together all disparate data sources. Your usage data lives in Mixpanel or Amplitude, your transaction data lives in Stripe, and your support data is stuck in Zendesk. Find a way to pull data out of these sources and pipe it into a data warehouse, that can give your team easy access to all information about your customers at their fingertips to personalize their experience. This will be useful information to helping your account management team be more successful at helping your customer engage with your email product. And over time, using this data you can build out repositories of content to support specific customer segments and such. After such, it becomes easier for your team to pick and choose what content makes most sense to send the customer.

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Personalization is easier than ever

In my perspective, the personalization of marketing is an old theory that marketers can do more easily than ever before given the tools we have at our fingertips now. As a result, personalization is important to helping understand independent customers, how to sell to their pain points, and how to keep them engaged. This can be applied not only to B2B businesses, but any type – including B2C, via items like having users fill out information during the onboarding to personalize their feed (think Twitter or Pinterest).

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