While there are established techniques you can use to modernize your B2B website today, we want to highlight the one that will leapfrog them all. It’s common among B2C market leaders and it’s now entering the B2B world. In this blog, we’ll look at why micro-personalization is important, how it’s different than traditional “personalization,” and when you can expect it to hit the B2B marketplace.

Why you need to use B2B content personalization to micro-personalize your website

Here’s the glaring problem with a website that is like a digital brochure: it’s centered on what your company offers, and not on your customer’s needs. This is what Forrester refers to as “inside-out” marketing, or when “the brand is focused on what the company brings to market, not on what the customer needs, wants, or expects.”Your visitors are all at different stages of their journeys with your brand and products or services when they hit your website. So how can a static website properly serve all customers and prospects, and help them arrive at a purchase decision when all of their needs are different?

Picture yourself in these scenarios:

Scenario A
Imagine you’re a student researching for your thesis. You’re dropped off at the front door of an enormous reference library where the books aren’t sorted by topic, they’re just organized chronologically by the date they were published. The library is 6 floors. You look up and down at the stacks of books… How could you ever get your research done?

Scenario B
Now imagine you walk into a different library, and this time you’re warmly greeted by a librarian who knows exactly what your research project is about, which books you’ve already read, and which books your classmates are reading. This librarian everything laid out for you at the front desk, so you don’t even need to enter the stacks. Think about how much easier it would be to do your research now.

Micro-personalization is essential to surfacing the right content for the right person at the right stage in their journey with you. This is the only way to give high-quality experiences to a wide variety of individual visitors. Doing it at scale is the challenge.

“80% of respondents in a recent survey said they’re more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized b2b content experiences.”

–  “The Impact of Personalization on Marketing Performance,” Epsilon

Why attempts at website personalization are failing today’s buyers

Today’s website personalization tools are built for macro-personalization. This usually entails aligning hero banners and call-out boxes to industries, personas, or accounts. Campaigns are almost always built manually by the marketer using a series of segmentation, rules, and custom creative. However, it’s time-consuming and manual to build rules, and it can be overwhelming to think about personalizing many places for many different kinds of people. This type of personalization doesn’t scale, but it also doesn’t deliver an optimal experience for web visitors because it’s not tailored to them as individuals, only wide buckets.

What’s missing is micro-personalization—the ability to serve fresh, relevant content within the right context, tailored to where a customer is in their journey. To pull this off, marketers need to go beyond collecting simple demographic data. Collecting the right data set is the necessary foundation to micro-personalize, and achieve scale by allowing artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an experience that is truly 1:1 and personalized to the individual. Marketers need to collect data on content and topics that visitors have spent meaningful time-consuming. This is the data set that makes micro-personalization possible. When buyers are presented with these more relevant and contextual options, it’s clear the experience is personalized to them and allows them to ‘see themselves’ in the digital experience. Without micro-personalization, you can’t expect to win today’s buyer.

What b2b content personalization or a micro-personalized website looks like

At its core, today’s buyer’s journey is really just a series of transactions around content. As marketers, you have to match demand (what your buyers want or need) with supply (information). Today’s websites are extremely inefficient at matching this value exchange, let alone identifying who the visitor is in the first place. If you can offer a higher quality value exchange than your competitors, it will give you a significant advantage in the marketplace. As people spend a few moments of their precious time with you, you have an opportunity to deliver immense value and they’re expecting you to do it in a contextually relevant manner.

Instead of traditional resource centers, website visitors should be presented with personal libraries that solve their problems before they even realize that they are their problems. This is impossible for marketers to do manually—it’s simply too much data to crunch. This is why artificial intelligence, including natural language processing and machine learning, is needed to accomplish this at scale. Having a platform that optimizes those micro-moments of engagement should be the mission for all as you move to the website of the future.

4 categories of content in a micro-personalized website

1. Top content offers based on past behavior of the visitor and their peers

The B2B website of the future will surface personalized content offers based on what you know about the past content consumption of returning visitors. When AI is applied to a deep understanding of content (and all the attributes of the piece of content including words, topics, type, and other attributes) along with a visitor’s behavior, highly prescriptive and accurate recommendations can be made.

2. Content the visitor has already seen that they may want to revisit

The best B2B websites will know what visitors have already read—regardless of the channel they originally accessed it on—and provide easy access where they left off. Much like Amazon’s “Items you’ve viewed,” this will allow buyers to seamlessly ease back into consecutive research sessions.

“ 90% of all buyers reported revisiting‚ or looping back‚ to at least one job as part of their overall purchasing process.”

–  “Win More B2B Sales Deals,” Gartner

3. Content their colleagues are reading

Websites that are ahead of the curve will show buyers what content is trending at their account. This is crucial because you need consensus in the buying committee—and many enterprise organizations may have more than 100 on that committee. By surfacing the same content to peers, you’re level-setting the common understanding needed to move forward along the path to purchase.

4. Timely content offers hand-picked by the marketer

While most of this is based on a move away from distributing content on a marketer’s terms and toward customer-centricity, there are times when a marketer needs a simple path to using simple rules-based promotion such as seasonal offers or high-value content that can only be used for a finite period of time (such as an analyst report). The B2B website of the future will offer both a curated and machine-driven customer experience. The fusion of both is where the magic lies.

The future belongs to those who believe in the effectiveness of their website

B2B websites have come a long way, but they still have much room to progress. Analysts and marketing leaders alike agree that better personalization with less friction along the journey is the way forward for progressive, cutting-edge B2B brands to become market leaders. Marketing automation went from a new trend to table stakes in a couple of decades. Micro-personalized B2B website experiences are the next frontier. The future is here.

The Website of the Future Series reveals a vision for a B2B website that is an effective conversion, capable of driving more demand by delivering the right content to the right person at the right time. Check out the eBook for practical tips that will help you modernize your website to getting a leg up on your competitors.