According to research from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, lead generation is the top priority for B2B content marketers. But for content to generate leads, marketers need personalization: 79% of consumers say they are likely to engage with an offer only if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand.

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Personalization is especially critical for B2B companies, because sales cycles are long and salespeople have to talk with several people at the target company many times to close a deal. The keys to B2B marketing success are targeting and testing, at least according to Drew Burns,  the senior product marketing manager for Adobe Target.

I invited Drew to Marketing Smarts to discuss the dramatic effect that personalizing your B2B marketing can have on your lead generation efforts.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Personalizing your marketing pays off (05:50): "Our customers, on average, are seeing a 25-times return off of what they're spending on the solution alone, so every dollar spent they're seeing $25 in return. That's just a revenue figure, but in terms of customer loyalty and has a huge impact on those, as well. And then we have customers tracking opportunity costs, as well. A lot of companies in services, high-tech, or B2B who are trying to divert their customers away from a call center or a chat, which has a certain dollar value to it. Calls can sometimes be, on average, $24 a call, so even an incremental change...with customers' being able to find what they're looking for form a help document or a video...can have massive returns in terms of revenue, as well."

Personalization can help B2B companies tailor their website experience so they don't overwhelm site visitors with their array of solutions (07:11): "There is a tremendous potential for personalization in the B2B space, but it's amazing to me when you visit so many sites that you can tell the company still sees the website as brochureware and not as as vehicle for beginning a conversation, enticing a prospect with the right collateral, with the right third-party report, let's say, or a whitepaper on what this means to the company and the potential value of going into a partnership or purchasing a service or a product.

"It begins upon entry. I'm starting on Web but, obviously, mobile is taking we might be talking about a mobile site.... You'll see oftentimes a carousel, still, which is sort of an old tactic or a legacy tactic to try to show many things at the same time. What we've found is that visitors who come to the site don't recognize the first tile, let alone the rest. The motion actually pulls away the focus. This is where personalization can play a part.

"Not only can we look at a visitor's profile when they come in and determine what is a better offer for them. If we know they're an existing customer and, perhaps, we know that they have a specific product, so we want to show them the next product that would be best for them based on their investment right now...rather than showing a carousel...or trying to throw up all that you can on your site.... I'm going to create what we call 'lobbies'—where you put visitors into a lobby that's related to the area of their focus, if we know they're a photographer versus somebody who's...just purchasing services versus an enterprise customers we have a long partnership with. It's thinking about a site not as a static experience, but more dynamic."

The first step to personalizing your marketing? Begin with your key metrics. (17:08): "What are your key metrics? What are your key goals? Entry or reducing bounce on that first homepage experience? Then, what are the steps it takes to get to the information or the registration or sign-up that a prospect is coming to do, and how can you streamline that based on the customer's needs?

"This, when you dig into it with B2B, this is where personalization can be a lot easier than it can for other industries. For retail, it's super challenging because a large retailer with many products can find it harder to discern what is the current preference of the business or customers. In financial services and even more so in B2B, you have very specific segments you're looking at. A customer's not just going to browse a high-tech site for the heck of it. They have a specific goal in mind. So you have these segments you're tracking already in analytics.... What are the steps that I want to get them to? To reach out for a demo or a sales conversation? Think about the customer presentation."

To learn more, visit the Adobe website or follow Drew on Twitter: @drewtburns.

Drew and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by GoToWebinar:

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.


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