How to get a head start on B2B marketing personalization

How much of your marketing experiences are one-size-fits-all?

As a B2B company, your market isn't made up of every type of business and user. And trying to convince everyone at once dilutes the power of your message.

You already know that a standardized approach to marketing trying to speak to everyone usually falls short and that a personalized approach creates a great experience that leads to faster conversions, better relationships, and happier customers.

But personalizing your marketing can feel like a huge project that takes time and resources. Where do you start — and what makes personalization projects worth the effort?

When you have a clear picture of who your best customers are, then you have a good idea of who your highest-value marketing audience is. Start taking steps to tailor marketing just for your ideal customer, from the moment they see your website, and you'll be designing a great custom experience for a lucrative segment of your market.

In this article, we'll break down how to personalize your marketing in order to make the greatest impact to your business. We'll focus on three parts of the customer journey — the website, chat, and ads — and how getting a head start with data about your most important audience gives you the power to personalize from their first interaction.

How to identify your audience

Marketing personalization doesn't mean tailoring to every individual or even every audience variant. Focus on just one or two of your top segments, informed by your ideal customer profile and marketing personas, and what differentiates them from the masses.

Common firmographic attributes that help differentiate these target segments include:

  • by industry (e.g., retail, media, tech)
  • by size of company (e.g., enterprise, SMB)
  • by type of business (e.g., e-commerce, B2B)
  • by location (e.g., Northeast USA, EMEA)

Once you've defined your audience, double-check to see if the segment fulfills these three conditions. The audience should be:

  • identifiable: you can technically identify and act on that identity
  • valuable: there's value based on strategic importance, volume, or other measure, like LTV
  • benefits from a specific experience: there's a noticeable advantage to creating different messaging or treatment

But how do you identify that someone fits your audience if they've never interacted with your business before? Using a reverse-IP solution like Clearbit Reveal, you can detect if a site visitor fits into your target segments when they visit your site — and then automatically show relevant messaging, products, and calls to action.

When it's possible to tailor marketing experiences, even for leads who are visiting your site for the first time — it's like having access to an automatic lead qualification system, which gives you a leg up. Within the traditional marketing funnel, someone doesn't become a lead until they hand over an email address by filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, or signing up for a trial. With this Reveal method, you can treat specific visitors from target accounts as leads earlier on. And they're not just any old leads but valuable qualified ones, deserving of VIP treatment.

Creating a tailored journey, from Day 1

Let's say there's one customer segment you want to double down on because they tend to have the highest LTV or some other reason. For example, maybe you want to target larger companies as your business moves upmarket.

This segment will have particular pain points, needs, or situations that you can speak to more specifically, with a personalized approach that spans a broader customer journey rather than just one marketing channel interaction. Personalized B2B marketing efforts — including your website, live chat, and ad strategy — can work cohesively to deliver a stronger, higher-performing user experience.

The first impressions: website personalization

Your website is what usually forms a lead's first impression. They'll decide to learn more, or they'll bounce.

Consider two visitors coming to a website for a particular CRM tool for the first time:

  • The first works at a media agency. They need in-depth customer profiling and prospecting to cycle the right customers into their business.
  • The second works at a real estate company. They need to access client and broker data on their phone as they travel between showings throughout the day.

The CRM tool can fill the need for both use-cases, but a generalized presentation of the product and all its very many features won't go too far in convincing either potential customer that this tool is for them.

Customize your website content — from messaging, calls to action, hero images, social proof, and other elements — for your VIP audience. You've probably even created specific landing pages for such segments already. But with automatic personalization, you can communicate these relevant value propositions on the first visit.

For example, Citrix, a B2B software company, created unique experiences of their homepage for key industry-specific visitors:

site personalization based on healthcare industrypersonalized homepage for visitors in healthcare
site personalization based on education industrypersonalized homepage for visitors in education

There are multiple elements of website content you can personalize. A great place to start experimenting is with your headlines and CTAs.

Proactive chat for priority leads

Having live chat on your website is a friendly way to interact with site visitors and get them the information they need quickly. But the challenge is that you often can't prioritize who your most high-value prospects are in real-time and end up wasting time trying to get through all the noisy conversations.

Similar to tailoring a homepage so that your ideal customer saw a highly-relevant version while everyone else saw the standard version — what if you only showed live chat to your VIPs? They can get a highly-personalized experience while everyone else either doesn't see a chat function at all or gets a more generic treatment.

proactive chatTradeshift's chat message here could only be shown to the best qualified prospects

When you can tell that a site visitor falls into your target audience, they're already prequalified in a sense. Not only can you get more specific in your messaging, you can confidently offer a level of custom service knowing that you're using your resources wisely. For instance, you can introduce a personal rep to guide them through the purchase decision, or offer more direct CTAs like the ability to schedule a 1:1 meeting or personalized demo.


Rigorously precise ad retargeting

When your target audience has visited key pages on your marketing site like the homepage, product or solution pages, or pricing without leaving an email address — it's time to retarget them. Again, you already know that this is a segment you want to invest time in to engage and nurture.

For example, here's how it works with Clearbit Reveal: you'll have a custom audience for your top VIP segment based on Reveal data attributes. Visitors who fit that profile and move away from your site will fall into that custom audience and start getting Google Ads retargeting campaigns. (Learn more on how to optimize B2B retargeting.)

Similar to how you'd tailor the website and chat experiences just for your target audience, you can focus on specific messaging, CTAs, and imagery in your retargeting campaigns, knowing that they will be seen by the right people rather than an overbroad audience.

If your VIP segment is enterprise businesses, then you can serve up ads once a visitor's company size reaches a certain threshhold — like this one from HP:

retargeting ad examplead example

Or if you're aiming to target businesses for premium-tier plans, you can also target companies of a certain size. Here's an example from Dropbox, which mentions more expensive features — space and security — that smaller organizations and individuals care less about.

ad example for premium plansource: bannersnack

It's important to note that the better you get at creating custom audiences, the stronger your personalized ads will be. A key part of getting personalized ads right — and improving advertising ROI — is knowing your core audiences better than any of your competitors.

The value of knowing your users

In B2B marketing, what's popular isn't always best for your business. But conversions are often measured without taking segmentation into account. What will occur in that case is that your marketing strategy and tactics are shaped by the lowest common denominator.

The root of successful personalization is strong segmentation, which starts with correctly identifying your most important target customers. Focus on what will resonate with and bring value to them, and design those aspects into their whole journey, not just piece by piece. Then you can measure conversion and optimize for these specific VIP audiences rather than for the masses.

Done right, personalization is like building a shortcut to speak directly with the people you most want to be in conversation with while building a user experience that's easy and helpful. It's a long-term win for your business.