B2B companies are increasingly adopting B2C-style personalization strategies as more commerce goes digital, and more business buyers expect consumer-style purchasing experiences at work. More than half of business and personal shoppers now expect every offer they get from companies to be personalized, according to Salesforce 2020 survey data, so this approach makes sense.
However, the requirements and strategies for B2B personalization differ from B2C personalization in some key ways. B2B personalization requires less personal information and more data about the customer’s role, business goals and industry. B2B personalization also involves more refined segmentation than a typical B2C program, so many B2B marketers use account-based marketing (ABM) strategies to support their personalization programs. To be truly effective, though, B2B personalization and ABM programs need customer feedback—also referred to as voice of the customer data—to create a human-centered customer experience (CX).
Gartner describes ABM, which targets small groups of specific company contacts with personalized marketing and sales messaging, as a way for B2B sellers to “execute personalization at scale.” Nearly half (47%) of marketers surveyed recently by DemandGen said they use ABM to make sure they’re targeting the right stakeholders at companies they want to do business with. Human-centered CX can yield the kind of data that B2B companies need to achieve their ABM goals, because it goes beyond site analytics and behavioral data to take the opinions and feedback of customers into account.
How can a human-centered strategy help your business?
A human-centric approach can help your company stand out and stay competitive, because there’s a growing emphasis on ABM strategies in B2B marketing. A 2021 marketer survey by DemandGen found that 61% of the respondents planned to spend more on ABM this year. Other B2B organizations will need to keep up with the improved CX that ABM, coupled with voice-of-customer data, can provide.
Voice of the customer data can also help close the gap between customer expectations for personalization and the reality of what many companies offer. Salesforce surveyed 3,600 business buyers from 27 countries worldwide for its 2020 State of the Connected Customer report. The results were that 85% of B2B customers expect sales reps to show that they understand their business, and nearly the same percentage (84%) are more likely to buy from companies that understand their business goals. However, 57% of the B2B buyers said sales reps frequently don’t understand their business.
Where can you get the voice of the customer feedback you need?
One of the most popular ways to collect voice of the customer data is with surveys that collect Net Promoter Score data and other information via email, text or on your website. You can also run focus groups with customers to find out in detail what they think of your CX, products and service delivery, and what they need or want that you don’t offer yet.
Social listening tools can round up mentions of your brand and products that customers and prospects share on social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, reddit forums, blog posts and review websites. This kind of feedback can help you understand customers’ pain points and get a sense of your brand’s reputation across social channels.
You can also collect and analyze the feedback customers share with your customer service and field service employees. At the individual level, it’s important to have a process for employees to share what customers tell them. At the departmental or organizational level, speech analytics software can review word choices, tone and emotion in customers’ speech when they call your service center, to reveal customer satisfaction trends, problem areas and potential solutions.
Finally, each one-on-one conversation your sales team has with customers can give you valuable insights not only into the customer’s business needs and goals but into their individual preferences about how they want to be contacted, how they prefer to make buying decisions and other unique factors that can help you build a successful, highly targeted and empathetic ABM program.
How can you create human-centric B2B campaigns?
Using ABM, your marketing and sales teams can develop an ideal customer profile and use it to identify prospects that match it. From there, voice of customer data can help you understand what these prospective customers do, what their goals are and what they need from vendors. Then you can create individualized experiences such as:
More effective email messaging. For example, for outreach to new B2B prospects, industry-specific personalization is more effective than company-specific personalization, which supports the Salesforce survey’s data about B2B customers’ desire for vendors who understand their industry.
Smarter retargeting through social media and display ads. When you understand your prospects’ industry and specific goals, you can tailor your ads to fit the context of their needs and their online activity.
Personalized website experiences. You can customize landing pages for your ABM targets and display the most relevant products or services when they visit your sales portal.
The key takeaway here is that while personalization can give B2B buyers the B2C experience they want, and ABM can help vendors deploy personalized strategies at a scale that makes sense for their sales goals, listening to the customer and acting on the information they share are the keys to a human-centered experience. By integrating that voice of the customer data into your ABM, you can start conversations and build relationships that lead to sales and growth.