Personalization in a Business to Business World

“Hire character. Train skill.” – Peter Schutz 

Personalization in a B2B World  

In a real-world setting, a good salesperson would size-up a new prospect walking in the door and within seconds begin to tailor the conversation to that person’s needs. In the digital world of eCommerce and automated marketing, the union of data and content management technologies is allowing companies to replicate that salesperson’s ability to tailor the conversation to the prospect at hand, delivering different content to each digital customer based on data insights. 

At Tahzoo, we call this personalization. We are mirroring the human-to-human sales interaction in an online sphere to turn what was once a one-way and one-size-fits-all approach to digital content and digital marketing into a true, two-way conversation between brands and their customers. We are giving our clients—many of whom are in the FORTUNE 500—the agility to adapt their marketing messages on the fly to reach deeper more meaningful relationships with their customers. 
 
In the digital customer experience (CX) world, personalization is defined as the ability to provide content (words, images, video, and audio) to a specific customer based on real-time data about that customer, including their age, location, search history, and other “data insights” that can drive a richer and more personally targeted customer experience. 

The impact of personalization will be particularly significant in the relationship-based business-to-business (B2B) space. The technologies for delivering highly nuanced personalized content and the data needed to pinpoint customer preferences are well established and proven to deliver business results through greater contextual relevancy, conversion rates, and long-term customer loyalty.  
 
The technical infrastructure necessary to support the goals of personalization across all digital channels are available and will be imperative to market leadership and commercial viability in the industry for the foreseeable future.  
 
While personalization technology has advanced, the growing gap between truly relevant customer experiences—what Tahzoo refers to as “Responsive Experiences,” which adapt content to the user, based on data gathered about the user—and the standard one-size-fits-all content model, common in business-to-business sales is revealing a fundamental weakness in the ability of some firms to sell their products in the digital realm. 

Tahzoo likes to frame the disparity by asking a single, provocative question: what would happen if a human sales representative were as bad at selling office equipment, laptops or even copy paper as the majority of today’s B2B websites? The answer is simple: they would be fired. 
 
For far too long, marketers have gotten away with being terrible salespeople online because they are insulated by the law of large numbers—if they churn through enough people, eventually some portion of them (usually a minute portion) will convert to customers. Volume is the name of the game, but volume is also tremendously expensive, inefficient, and ineffective for company and customer alike.  
 
While our ability to know the customer through data insights is better and more powerful than ever, and the technology is now sophisticated enough to make the dream of true personalization a reality, there is more to the arithmetic of marketing than mere data and technology. 

Tahzoo believes that much of the fault for the sorry state of online selling falls at the feet of companies’ poor understanding of how their customers become educated about their products and services. What more is selling than education, after all? And who better to learn about education than educators?  
 
For inspiration in transforming the digital customer experience into something truly revolutionary, we turned to a trusted principle of education theory known as Learning Models, a theory first developed by the academic Robert Gagné in the 1980s. 
 
In this white paper, Tahzoo marries Gagne’s “Learning Models” principles and digital personalization to unite these disparate pieces into a comprehensive digital customer experience model that describes:  

  1. How customers think about their own business problems and potential solutions.  
  2. The step-by-step process—the learning model—for educating a prospect through digital channels.  
  3. How to gather insightful and accurate data about those customers. 
  4. The technology to deliver relevant customer experience to sell better in the online setting. 

To remain relevant to today’s digitally driven B2B customers, the industry must move toward greater personalization. If today’s industry leaders don’t take up the charge, another service will surely find a better way to meet the needs of these customers. The B2B space is ripe for disruption. 

Is there a new and disruptive competitor awaiting the B2B space? That remains to be seen. But, if there is, such a competitor will surely emerge from the shadows of data-driven, technology-enabled, customer-centric personalization. 

To effectively communicate relevant and personalized content—not merely to present it—to drive consumer decision-making means that the floodgate to personalized content must be opened, but firms must first invite consumers to explore all their options through a process of self-education. In this paradigm, the mere presentation of information must progress from mere fact-finding to a real and lasting conversation between customers and companies.  
 
When this happens—when Learning Models and digital personalization are truly aligned—then and only then will B2B customers be both engaged and educated. And that’s when great things can happen. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad