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How B2B Organizations Can Personalize Like B2C

Eighty-two percent of business buyers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations for other companies. We all know the impact Amazon has on the consumer—but do those hyper-personalized experiences translate to the business buyer? Do we hold all companies to a higher standard because Amazon sets the bar so high? More specifically, how can B2B brands meet this seemingly unrealistic expectation?

Stacking up against Amazon in the B2B space

Merkle recently worked with Cisco to understand how other B2B brands were providing personalized online experiences and how they stacked up against Amazon. As you can imagine, personalization efforts in the B2B space were negligible. Where any customer centricity prevailed, brands were solely reactive, responding to specific buyer needs or recent behaviors with curated content attempting to answer: what’s in it for me?”

Paving the path toward hyper-personalization  

To remain competitive and stand out in the B2B space, Cisco knew they had to proceed on their path toward the idealized state of hyper-personalization. The first step was to develop a vision and roadmap to gain executive buy in.

Merkle collaborated with Cisco to map out distinct phases with varying levels of data that would inform personalization—from ABX to predictive modeling and machine learning.

Planning for execution

The team established seven building blocks to inform the implementation of personalization:

  1. Audience: Defining buyer profiles, personas, and segmentation to enable more robust targeting and experience planning across the customer journey and lifecycle.
  2. Channels: Integrating and orchestrating channels to guide personalization at each interaction.
  3. UX and Content: Developing business use cases to measure the impact of tailoring the experience and content offered based on audience.
  4. People and Process: Ensuring campaigns are effectively delivered in a cross-functional manner—spanning from creative to technical expertise.
  5. Analytics and Models: Developing logic for decisioning and assessing effectiveness of personalization to determine if/where to further scale beyond the initial use cases introduced.
  6. Taxonomy and Tag Management: Standardizing data and managing assets to allow for automation.
  7. Data and Technology: Integrating customer data into the tech stack to enable connected experiences across all channels.

Crawling before we walk

Of course we cannot achieve hyper-personalization overnight. So often data and technology are only half the story. Without the right content there is no means to deliver hyper-personalized experiences. Upon further auditing Cisco’s own content strategy, it became evident that they recognized the need to strike the right balance between digital convenience and an emotionally relevant marketing program. As their tech stack evolves and becomes further integrated with data and content, they will progress along the roadmap to a more scaled and sophisticated 1:1 customer experience.

Check out our guide to learn how B2B marketers can use content intelligence data to deliver relevant experiences at scale.