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Personalization for B2B companies - ideas & use cases

  • Personalization for B2B companies - ideas & use cases

B2B personalization is all about appealing to the decision maker behind the company. Here are some examples that will help you get started.

The first thing to remember is that even though you’re providing a service or product to a company, it is still a person who is in charge. However, they’ll behave differently from an end customer, so make sure to be more subtle and nuanced than in a B2C setup. Still, the golden rule applies: Personalization is about making the page more relevant to the current viewer.


Personalization techniques in B2B marketing

Audience segmenting is the starting point for personalization. However, not all segmentation techniques are equally relevant in a B2B context. Let’s take a look at what works best and what’s unlikely to succeed (or simply not feasible).

Contextual segmentation

What to focus on

  • Time: People have different habits and preferences based on weekday and time. I’ll expand on this in the next section of the article.
  • Returning vs. new visitor: Show your visitors different content based on how familiar they are with your business. This can greatly improve conversion and retention.
  • Referral source: It is important to align your landing page with the messaging that initially attracted a visitor onto your website. If you want to know more about this, just take a look at my article about symmetric messaging.
  • Device: I don’t need to tell you that people consume content differently on mobile, do I?

What you can forget about

  • Mood: Unlike B2C companies like Spotify or Netflix, you won’t be able to make a connection between your users’ behavior and their mood.
  • Weather: I’ll take you to dinner if you can show me a B2B company that increased sales with statements like “It is a hot summer day, keep cool with our awesome SaaS solution!”. Sure, some big-data companies can probably see a correlation between weather and sales, but let’s not get into that…

Contextual segmentation example: Time

We’ll now take a closer look at time based personalization. For beginners, it’s a comparably easy to implement technique and it is applicable for most B2B companies.

Now, this might be obvious to some, but don’t just tell your visitors what time it is; chances are they already know.

What you need to focus on instead is the effect of time on your viewers’ behavior. People have different habits and preferences based on weekday and time. This is why there are so many articles about “the best day and time to email or to post on Social Media”. For example, the general consensus when it comes to email marketing is to email midweek in the afternoon. There are similar theories for social media.

Of course, no sane person would write an article about “the best time to sell stuff on your website” but most B2B companies can see behavioral patterns based on weekday and time. When are your visitors more likely to purchase, or to request a demo? Do they behave differently on weekends?

Again, user-focused analysis is key here and even good-old Google Analytics can give you some hints on how your visitors behave based on time and weekday.

b2b analytics2 A Custom Report I created in Google Analytics to analyze traffic based on time and weekday.

Use case:

A friend of mine works as a freelance photographer who gets most of his traffic from AdWords (and Word of mouth). Until recently, the call-to-action on his landing page read “Call Now”. However, he turns off the phone on the weekend, so when a potential client called, they had to leave a message. Unfortunately, most of them would just hang up and he’d lose valuable business.

Using Unless, we created a “weekend variation” of the landing page and changed the call-to-action to “Schedule a Call”. Using Calendly, interested users can now pick a time slot, and he will call them back. This simple adjustment greatly improved user experience and increased his conversion rate by over 20%.

Demographic segmentation

What to focus on

  • Location: My personal favorite, so I dedicated an entire section of this article to it.
  • Company: By leveraging a company’s IP address you can personalize based on industry, company size, annual revenue, etc. This can be extremely powerful, but it will cost you big bucks. You’ll either have to use a data-enrichment tool that offers an API (e.g. Clearbit, Kickfire) or you’ll have to extract the information from your CRM. If you have the budget for it, please reach out to me — happy to advice.
  • Job Title: Once you know a person’s occupation, use it for all further communication. The email campaigns of Segment.com are a good example for this. They split their audience into “developers” and “business”, offering different onboarding experiences.

What you can forget about

  • Age: This works great in a B2C context, but in B2B it’ll be hard to find a good use case.

Demographic segmentation example: Location

My personal favorite: Personalization based on geo-location — it’s subtle, powerful, and a great experimentation field for beginners.

Once again, don’t simply state the users location! Be creative and use the information in a valuable and relevant way.

Use case:

TrendWatching is a market research company that provides their customers with insights about global trends and developments. They have offices on five continents and clients in 60+ countries.

TrendWatching1 TrendWatching homepage. Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands.

As you can see from the screenshot above, social proof takes up a significant part of TrendWatching’s website. It indicates that potential new customers are positively influenced by seeing who else is trusting their solution.

On closer inspection, you will notice that the clients portrayed in this section actually change based on the viewer’s location.

TrendWatching2 TrendWatching homepage. Location: Berlin, Germany.

It is also interesting how they mix logos of small and big companies to indicate to the viewer that they cater to businesses of all sizes and industries.

For a globally active company that also positions itself as close to their customers, personalization through geo-location is a perfect solution.

Another form of personalization based on social proof could be customer quotes. Instead of showing the same “What our clients say” section to everyone, show quotes of local companies. Use brand familiarity to your advantage. Your visitors will perceive your business as more approachable and relevant.

Behavioral segmentation

What to focus on

  • Analytics: Any kind of behavioral personalization starts with the installation of a user-focused analytics tool (e.g. Mixpanel, Amplitude, Kissmetrics, Google Analytics (Beta),…) and studying data. It’s not a very sexy task but through cohort analysis you’ll soon discover behavioral patterns that you can amplify or optimize through personalization. I’m not going to go into details here. All of the mentioned tools offer great guides that will lead you through the process.

b2b analytics Source: Presentation about behavior-based cohorting by Amplitude Analytics

What to avoid

  • Being creepy: Overdoing it, is like the deadly sin of personalization. I’m not going to call out names but there is a customer messaging provider that brings user stalking to a whole new level. They’ll follow up with you via email every time you take an action on their website. In their message, they will refer to what you’ve done on the site and then they’ll conclude with an innocent “let’s chat” offer. Except, I don’t want to talk to those weirdos…
  • Don’t personalize for the sake of personalization: Always make sure your personalization efforts add to your visitors’ experience. Whether you’re helping them better understand your offer or more effectively achieve their goals.

Final Note

I hope this overview of the most important personalization techniques for B2B websites and the mentioned real-life examples help you get started with your own personalizations. As long as you apply the golden rules of dating to your personalizations, your business customers will be delighted.