Friday, March 4, 2016

Using personalization to guide your website visitors through the B2B buyer’s journey

By: Katie Hrdy, Content Marketing Manager at Evergage (pictured above)

Imagine you’re a small business owner in the market for a marketing automation solution. You’ve never used marketing automation before, so you want to learn a little more about it. After finding yourself on one company’s homepage, you are immediately hit with a message that says, “FILL OUT THIS FORM TO SPEAK WITH ONE OF OUR SALESPEOPLE.”

You think, “You’re moving too fast! I just wanted to learn a little more about marketing automation and how it might work for my business.”

As a marketer, you know that person would be better served with an introductory video or eBook. So at first glance it looks like the message was coming on too strong and should probably not be on the homepage at all. Yet that message may have been helpful to a visitor who has returned to the site many times and consumed many pieces of content, but has not yet spoken to a salesperson.

So then how do you decide which type of visitor to cater to on your website? First-time visitors? Returning visitors? Customers? Visitors from different industries? Should you just lead with a very broad message?

Personalized web experiences to the rescue

Why do these questions matter? Because content plays an important role in the B2B buyer’s journey. According to Demand Gen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report, 51% of B2B buyers rely more on content now to research their buying decisions than they did a year ago. And B2B marketers have many different types of content on their websites to cater not only to different buyer personas but also to the different stages in the buying journey.

How can they get the right content in front of each visitor? Real-time personalization can address this challenge. It works by collecting detailed data on each of your visitors (number of visits, what they view on your site, how much time they spend on each page, where they come from, what content they download, etc.) and then applying rules or algorithms to instantly provide the the most relevant content or experience.

Real-time personalization in action

Let’s pick an easy example: personalizing the homepage hero area. Let’s assume the marketing automation vendor mentioned earlier has implemented a personalization strategy focused on changing the homepage hero based on who the visitor is and what content he has interacted with so far:

1.    A first-time visitor sees a one-minute overview video in the homepage hero, which educates him on the problems the vendor solves. Upon watching the video, the visitor determines that the vendor’s website and offerings are relevant to him.
2.  After he finishes viewing the video, the hero area changes and the next time he is on the homepage he is offered an eBook with a how-to guide related to the problem the vendor solves. As a bonus, at this stage the vendor collects the visitor’s information to incorporate him into its lead nurture program.
3.    Once he has downloaded the eBook, the hero area changes again to suggest that he view a case study highlighting a use case that he has spent time viewing on the site.
4.    After he’s seen the case study, a message suggests that he sign up for a demo of the vendor’s product and speak to a salesperson.

With this approach, each time he completes a step or returns to the home page (in the current session or a future session) he is introduced to a new piece of content that he hasn’t seen before. This allows you to guide him through his journey using the content you’ve created specifically for each stage from initial visit to a sales conversation.


Real-time personalization can help you make the most of the content you create and ensure a relevant experience for each of your web visitors. Join us at the MassTLC Conference “The Next Generation Customer Journey” on March 24th to learn more about aligning content to the buyer’s journey.  It will be a day packed with content, thought leadership and networking with your peers.

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