B2B content personalisation focuses on the wrong people
Content marketing good practice dictates that personalisation is inherently a good thing. It encourages the reader to commit to purchase through giving them an experience that appears to have been created just for them.
However, a recent study by marketing techies CEB shows that B2B content personalisation might not be as beneficial as previously thought. The research surveyed over 5,000 B2B buyers from 12 industries. It found that the average number of stakeholders involved in a typical B2B purchase is 5.4.
This is no great surprise. We’ve all tried to personalise our content so that the suits involved in purchasing decisions get hooked on our message. These head honchos include:
- Chief information officer
- Chief financial officer
- Head of procurement
- Head of operations
- Facilities manager
- Departmental managers (end users)
But, as outlined by Brent Adamson and Patrick Spenner in Harvard Business Review, the more content is personalised for each person in this chain, the lower the likelihood of making a “quality sale”. Customers will often opt for a lesser deal at a reduced price if the personalisation factor isn’t there.
Just a cursory glance at these job titles shows this is a group with diverse priorities. From bean counters to office managers, trying to create one piece of content that appeals to all sounds like a mammoth task. And it is.
Attempting personalisation on this level will highlight differences, rather than unite everyone under the same banner.
A truly tailored B2B content marketing strategy should recognise how and when these roles interact and position itself accordingly through inventive personalisation techniques.
This means creating content that focuses on the collective decision-making process. Jeff Lowe, CMO of SMART Technologies, claims to have achieved this by focusing on personalising content for “collaboration champions” (or, people who can build consensus across departments).
To achieve this, you’ll need to find out what roles tend to be the most cohesive in your chosen sector. Then, tailor your content to appeal to the traits of their persona, and encourage them to become your very own in-house brand advocate.
Content marketers need to learn how to respect their elders
With the exponential explosion of technology and brands’ obsessions with the portrayal of youth, it’s not hard to see why the older generation feel left out. But, this trend ignores the fact that one third of the UK population is over 50 — that’s 23.6 million people your strategy isn’t reaching (Age UK, 2016).
So, what can fresh-faced content marketers do to make their content more appealing to older consumers? Here are a few ideas to help you out:
- Make help and information resources immediately accessible.
- Focus on customer service and advice-led copy.
- Use the right language (see Barclays’ ‘Tea and Teach’ sessions).
- Emphasise offers, deals and discounts for the age group.
- Appeal to positive traits associated with older people, like freedom and self-assurance.
- Don’t patronise by withholding resources or being overly sympathetic.
As time and technology are progressing, so should the way we market to older people. Many are online and actually pretty good at it, but for those who aren’t, it’s about bridging the gap between the analogue and digital worlds; promoting the convenience of the technological age, coupled with the human aspect of the analogue era.
The trick content marketers are missing: microcopy
Microcopy includes any of the short phrases used around your site, primarily for usability purposes. This might include:
- Form fields
- Form instructions
- Error messages
IT company Veeam realised that many visitors were requesting a price directly — even though the relevant button was right there in front of them. This pushed them to do a little testing. By changing the wording from “Request a quote” to “Request pricing”, they were able to increase the number of clicks through to their lead generation form by 161.6%.
This tells us that microcopy really is a deal breaker when it comes to user experience. After all, it plays two small but integral roles that can push visitors through the bottom of your sales funnel. It denotes the action that the visitor can take and puts to rest any fears they might have about registering, subscribing or purchasing.
The former can be achieved by using the kind of natural, conversational language deployed by your customer base. The latter can be achieved by second-guessing their concerns (“We promise not to send you spammy emails”/“Don’t worry. This information’s already been sent to your email” etc.).
Try sitting down with someone new to your site and asking them to think aloud while going through your purchase process. This will give you a better idea of the language they use in real life. Then, once you’ve collated a shortlist of your favourite terms, try A/B testing to find out which works best.
After all, the devil (and your conversion rate) is in the detail.