B2B Customers Expect Personalized Information - 3 Ways for You to Deliver.

You got on board with the whole content marketing thing. You developed case studies, customer stories, technical documents and application notes. You beefed up your content team, found a great graphic designer and now have a nice library of relevant materials ranging from high level thought leader pieces to detailed technical specs. Your website is clearly structured, your blog features new articles regularly, your social media is no longer limited to posting the latest company news. It’s time to relax for a bit!

Not really, because the next big thing is already here: marketing personalization! If you think personalizing your marketing activities to ever more narrowly defined target audiences is only for consumer electronics and snack foods you are mistaken. Personalization is no longer the exclusive domain of B2C, B2B customers expect it as well.

Let’s back this claim up with some numbers.

Salesforce.com research - Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs.

According to this Salesforce survey, almost 3 out of 4 of your business customers expect you to provide a personalized experience and more than two-thirds went through the hassle of switching vendors for a better, more personalized, more “consumer-like” experience.

This article about personalization reinforces that message: they found that only 27% of B2B customers think that companies are meeting their experience standards despite the fact that 95% of all B2B companies make some attempt at providing personalized content

These are not numbers to ignore and definitely indicate that there is ample room for improvement.

This development towards more personalization of B2B marketing is not surprising: behind every business purchase is a person, who in their role as B2C customer has gotten used to tailored information and purchase experiences a la Amazon. Their preference for receiving personalized treatment remains the same whether they are buying a toy for the kids at home and a “toy” for the scientists in the lab.

B2B Personalization – A Quick Overview

Before we delve deeper into the topic, here is a quick definition: “B2B personalization means tailoring your marketing communications to fit the needs of each of your B2B customers.”

Literally custom-tailoring the message to each and every person, so-called hyper-personalization, relies on cutting-edge technology and is neither fast nor easy to implement. However, tailoring your communication to ever narrower, more well-defined customer segments ensures that you only provide relevant and timely information to your target segments – and ideally nothing else.

Three ways you can personalize customer experiences

Given this huge gap between expectations and reality, what can life science companies do to personalize the customer experience? In this blog, we discuss three high-level suggestions that help you with personalization.

Personalized online experiences

Personalizing a visitor’s web experience is hard to do because you have so little to go by for selecting relevant content. You have an IP address, location, and previous cookies allowing you to custom-tailor the information you present based on where the visitor is and whether they are a returning visitor.

That lack of information makes defining detailed buyer personas so critical. If you truly understand your different customer segments, have researched their needs, challenges and pain points during the process of persona development you can provide easy to access, highly relevant information on your website for each of your main segments buyer personas.

While this is definitely not hyper-personalization, it allows a visitor to quickly find the information they are interested in without having to browse through irrelevant content. Once they find found that article, blog or webinar that really sparks their interest, they are likely to linger to read it, download or watch it. Based on that behavior you can then automatically recommend additional content that is of interest to that buyer. The critical term here is “automatically”. If you shop at Amazon you don’t have to ask them to suggest other products that you might like, it’s automatic. If you watch an episode of “Orange Is the New Black” on Netflix you don’t have to tell them to start the next one, it automatically does so, assuming that if you watched one, you’ll want to watch another. Therefore, if a researcher downloads an application note about CAR T cell therapy, automatically suggest other pieces of content relevant to that topic.

This level of personalization is quickly becoming table stakes these days. There are many ways to go from there, from offering real-time messaging and chat options to using artificial intelligence algorithms to serve up the most relevant content in real-time to each website visitor based on the information you do have.

Email marketing

Email automation, A/B testing, lead scoring, open and click-through rates and a myriad of other methods and metrics a modern marketer has at their disposal can all create – over time – detailed profiles of your leads and allow you to personalize future communication. But how about that first email? That coldest of all cold emails? That email which likely decides what happens to all of your follow-on emails: chucked directly into the trash or opened, read and eventually prompting a request for a demo, visit or a quote?

Buying email lists is so pre-GDPR – and violating GDPR rules is just one of many reasons why buying email lists is a bad idea – you need to build your own list. That’s where your inbound marketing activities come in, your recorded webinars, downloadable white papers, tradeshow booths and blogs that are all so informative and valuable that a customer is willing to trade their contact information for it. Building a sizeable mailing list in this way, however, is a slow process and so companies look for ways to actively prospect for additional leads.

If you sell life science equipment, reagents, and consumables one way of so doing is by finding people, who use products or services similar to yours and publish about them. If a researcher uses apoptosis kits on a flow cytometer and writes papers about that work, chances are, they’ll need apoptosis – or other flow kits - again. Great lead, if you sell flow cytometers and flow kits and a chance to get their attention with an email linking your flow cytometry focussed white paper or your insightful report summarizing a relevant conference you attended. Eventually, given enough engagement with your marketing material, it is time to send information about your company’s new kit that takes detecting apoptotic cells to a whole new level.

In-person customer experience

The personalized customer experience doesn’t end with virtual interaction. Especially if your company sells expensive lab equipment there will be demos and visits, your sales and/or field application specialist teams will install loaner instruments and conduct training – in short, there will be a lot of personal interaction and opportunities to continue to deliver personalized information based on your knowledge of the potential customers.

The more you know about the lead, e.g. their recent publications, talks they gave, posters they presented or grants they received, the better your colleagues in the field can tweak their demos and training to match the customer’s needs.

How to find that data

Identifying relevant leads based on their publications and developing detailed profiles for key customers is easier said than done. Sleuthing PubMed is one – time-consuming – way of finding people using certain methods, techniques or materials. Following people on LinkedIn, googling and more sleuthing of public databases, e.g. information captured in NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) allows you to keep up with what your important leads are doing.

If this sounds like a lot of trouble to create a mailing list or customer profiles, it is, but the end result - improved marketing metrics, a better quality of leads, and increased up and cross-sales opportunities - are well worth the effort. Stay tuned for the second part of this blog, we will show you how Monocl can help you identify specific target customer groups and make huge, untargeted mass email campaigns a thing of the past.

If time is at a premium, there are short-cuts! The Monocl database can generate detailed customer profiles in a fraction of the time it would take to do these things the old fashioned way.