Imagine that you’re a marketer currently researching a new martech solution for your team. At the beginning of your search when you land on one company’s website, what are you looking for? If you’re like me, you want to understand what the company does and whether the solution is relevant to your current needs — as fast as possible. You don’t want to wade through pages and pages of website copy and other content to make this assessment.
But as you progress in the buyer’s journey, your needs will likely change. Maybe you want to understand more about the specific features of the product. You may want to read customer testimonials to ensure that the company has experience in your industry or specific use case. Eventually, you could decide to sign up for a demo. There’s a good chance that you don’t want to have these materials shoved in your face the second you land on the site. Instead, you may want to find them when you’re ready — at some point during your first visit, or even on later visits to the site.
Content for different needs
It should be clear from that quick example that prospects for B2B technology products and services have a variety of different goals at different points in their journeys. From the research and evaluation stage, to purchase, to adoption and ongoing usage of the product after becoming a customer, the needs of each person will vary.
Related content: the Harte Hanks approach to the buyer's journey
The good news is that if you’re a marketer of B2B technology products or services, you probably have a lot of existing content that is meant for those different stages of the buyer’s journey and customer journey. You have already put together the high-level blog posts and eBooks for the early stages, the case studies and customer testimonials for the middle and end of the buyer’s journey, and the help content and documentation for your existing customers. The trick is to make sure that all of this content is consumed by the right people or companies when they need it.
Personalization helps ensure that no matter where a prospect or customer is situated in his journey, you are providing him with the resources he needs when they are relevant to him. And that relevancy is important, because according to Demand Gen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report, 51% of B2B buyers rely more on content now to research their buying decisions than they did a year before. You need to make sure that those buyers find the right content to influence their decisions so they ultimately decide to purchase (and stay) with you.
Identify the criteria, personalize the content
To personalize each stage of the journey, you need to identify the criteria to use to personalize and the content or messages to be personalized across each stage of the journey, both pre- and post-purchase. Let me walk through an example of what that could look like.
Assume that I am an executive researching the type of product or solution your company provides. When I first land on your site, I need to determine whether your business serves my needs. Using an account-based marketing (ABM) approach, you can personalize this first page to my industry or company so that I see relevant headlines, images or introductory copy to help me immediately assess your solution’s relevance to me.
To help me learn more about your solution — either in that first visit or in later visits — you can offer videos, eBooks, webinars, and more based on my persona and my “in-the-moment” intent. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to offer progressive CTAs to guide me through consideration and evaluation. This means that you can begin with a CTA to offer me a high-level piece of content in specific areas across your site, and then progressively swap out those CTAs with additional content as I continue to engage with your site and you learn more about me. In addition to CTAs, you can provide content recommendations based on my unique preferences and stage of the journey with machine-learning algorithms. Ultimately, you will want to ask me to sign up for a free trial or a demo – but only when the time is right.
After I become a customer, you can identify my company, use case, industry and/or persona to provide the most helpful tips to onboard me as a user. You can continue to leverage my engagement level with the product (as well as monitoring for the features I haven’t used) to provide real-time tips, encouraging me to get the most out of your product.
You can also use my behavior to time upsell or cross-sell messages appropriately. Finally, you can identify whether anyone in my company is a power user and reach out at the right time for reviews and referrals.
You already have specific content, messages and CTAs to share with your visitors at various stages of the buyer’s journey to help them along to the next stage. But their unique industries, personas, use cases, content preferences, etc. dictate what information will be most relevant to them. Personalization allows you to tailor your experience to each buyer’s unique needs and stage in the journey.
Learn more about the Harte Hanks approach to bringing human interaction back to marketing, across the buyer's journey.
Katie Sweet is the Content Marketing Manager at Evergage, focused on crafting relevant content and maintaining the Evergage blog. When Katie isn’t meeting challenging deadlines, chasing blog contributors, and driving content at Evergage, she is constantly reading, homebrewing, traveling, and trying adventurous foods.