It’s frustrating to look back at predictions made in years past about marketing. They’re often right on the nose about what’s needed to better reach customers and drive more results, so accuracy isn’t the issue. It’s the fact that these ideas often take so long to be implemented and to displace older ideas and ways of doing things.
Take personalization as an example. The idea has been around for years – tailor your marketing message to the individual (or, at least, your best understanding of the individual). Really making them fit the individual requires attention and a commitment to the concept of personalization that few companies have yet shown.
Superficial personalization is perceived by the recipient as… superficial. I’m not just saying that – a study in 2012 led by a professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that simply adding a prospect’s name after “dear” in the introduction was more likely to repel a prospect than endear your business to them. Over 95 percent of people in the study reacted negatively to emails that greeted them by name.
That is not real personalization. It’s a mere data exercise enabled by email marketing software. If you want personalization, you need to go deeper. The same study revealed that, when the content of the message was based on the customer’s past purchasing behaviors, the reaction did a 180 – such messages, devoid of the superficial “customization” of the greeting line but filled with content that was pertinent to who the customer really was, had a 98 percent positive response. This effect was most pronounced among recipients who were not familiar with the firm that sent the email.
In other words, it’s not important if a company knows my name, but it’s important that a company knows my needs.
This is a reflection of the B2B buying experience and the need for sellers into that market to understand what’s important to those customers. Superficial personalization is a waste of time, time B2B buyers don’t have. But a subject line and content that speaks to B2B buyers’ needs is a different animal altogether.
That’s where the idea of verticalization comes in. Having the ability to segment your audience not just by demographic data but by industry data is crucial if you want to reach buyers with messages that are relevant and useful.
Doing so also allows you to create messages that are written in the right “language” – compare the jargon used in the insurance industry to that used in selling automobiles and you’ll quickly realize that a one-size-fits-all message would ring hollow while a tailored one would be received more favorably.
Overlay vertical segmentation with personalization and you come up with a fascinating matrix of customers or potential customers with specific needs, buying motivations and preferences in the way they wish to do business. This is the way to compete in the attention economy – by delivering contextually-specific messages that are worth reading because the sender has understood the reader’s needs.
Doing this depends on technology – a marketing automation platform that helps you not just send messages but cull data from interactions is a vital part this strategy. But it also places demands on marketers to better know their customers and the people they want to become customers.
If you’re not already using marketing automation, a great place to get started is our six-step guide to getting started. If you are using automation, give greater thought to using verticalization with personalization to bring the context your potential customers desire.