B2B Personalization: What’s the future?

Content personalization is all the rage. Kissmetrics recently published a post based on the study done by Seismic and DemandMetric. They did a very comprehensive study on B2B marketing organizations’ experience with content personalization. The results are very promising, with 80% of the B2B marketers stating that personalized content has proved to be much more effective than non-personalized content.

If we take a look at the larger data set of ‘all marketers’, only 55% of them are leveraging content personalization, and that too since just the past two years or less. So the market is in its very early stages and still learning. However, with the rise of cross-channel content consumption, the stage is set for some innovative startups in this field. Marketers see targeting and personalization as their most important priority, as per Adobe’s 2015 Digital Roadblock Survey.

So, here are a few prominent trends that we are expecting in the field of content personalization:

Greater Investment

Given that this is an emerging market, you’ve got to ask how large the spend would be in this space? Gartner, in its 2015–2016 study on spending, claimed marketing technology spending to surpass advertising. (Here’s a good summary). While I doubt this would be the case in B2C organizations, it is totally possible in the B2B environment. The spend is projected to be around 43 billion dollars, and that’s surely a huge pie to go after.

Better Compatibility with Your CMS

Marketing automation revolulized marketing industry in the early years of this decade. However, automated tailored email messages is the core offering in almost all the well known marketing automation platforms (Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot etc.). They bundle functionalities like personalization and A/B testing as additional, but not core offerings. These functions also do not get seamlessly coupled with you CMS (website), and that is an aspect that needs lot of work.

More Complex Personalization

While B2C personalization is largely focused on browsing behavior and content recommendations based on your purchasing behaviour, the B2B personalization ought to be much more complex in nature. CRM would host a bigger dataset, (than personalization or marketing automation engine) which can be used to provide a greater level of personalized user experience, that goes beyond mere content recommendations. Engagement with the content and presenting the right information would get more focus than transaction, since B2B is more than just presenting the right product with the CTA placed at the right position.

There are a few players who have been going strong in this space. Demandbase has been focussing on this sector for long and leading the account based marketing category (I am sure they invented this category). With the recent acquisition of Spiderbook they seem to be on the forefront in this B2B marketing domain.

We need more players to fuel the innovation engine. Companies like Target and Amazon in the B2C industry proved that investing in understanding your consumers can lead to huge benefits. Now is the time when we see similar efforts being made in the B2B space.