The personal touch
Editorial

The personal touch

How can B2B brands use data in personalised marketing – both on and offline?

Personalisation is well known to deliver an uplift in conversion rates, yet many B2B brands are still not using this opportunity. Great personalisation shows your customers and prospects that you understand them, appreciate them and can talk to them as an individual about products and services that they’re interested in. 

It is data that holds the key to understanding your customers’ behaviours and habits. The more details you have on your database, the easier it is to personalise your marketing materials.

Businesses should be using every contact point to capture data about their customers. Getting email addresses via a newsletter sign-up could be useful, but that simply gives you a name. Marketers now have access to much larger range of data from a variety of different sources: social media, customer service interactions, transactional data, profiling information and web searches are just a few of the elements comprising what has become known as big data.

Of course, it’s not just about having the data; it’s what you do with it. There’s a tendency to focus all personalisation efforts online. However, offline marketing channels can be hugely effective in driving conversions if they are personalised for individual recipients. Paying close attention to data quality and customer insights, and implementing very high quality, personalised, relevant and impactful direct mail, has consistently generated more cut-through and positive responses from senior business decision makers. 

Digital printing has enabled the production of direct mail that is relevant and, crucially, speedy and responsive, without necessitating a huge increase in your production costs. In fact, a recent survey undertaken by Royal Mail established that it is 25% less expensive to implement digitally printed communications than it was five years ago. However, to really increase engagement, don’t limit personalisation to one channel. Personalised campaigns can be rolled out across mail, mobile and digital platforms, enabling you to reach out according to yet another preference: engaging with prospects through their preferred delivery method.

It’s important to remember that there is no secret formula, and marketers should continue to test new boundaries. You need to understand your audience and their time constraints, then apply personalised creative and channel preferences. It might take several layers of communication to break through, but be prepared to invest in making a statement, where the response would be worth it, and maintain a focus on keeping messages relevant to the target audience.

This all might sound like a lot of hard work, but it’s easier than you think. Personalised direct mail campaigns can be automated to respond to a data feed which triggers the creation of artwork, each piece being personalised with the relevant information and images based on flags in the data. Creative templates can be used as a base, and they are then completed using a dynamic library of pre-agreed offers, imagery and content which combine to reflect the individual’s preferences, stage in the customer journey and behaviour. If your contact responds better to email, then that’s what they should get. Automation is a time-saving option, and should open up opportunities to be more relevant, rather than being restrictive.

Business customers increasingly expect a personalised experience when they engage with brands. They don’t have the time to sift through information until they get to the bit that’s interesting or relevant to them. So, whether you personalise by name, past transactions, behaviour, location, relatable images, industry, job title, interests or a combination of these techniques, just remember that the personal touch goes a long way.

Anthony Bagshaw is managing director of Gecko.

Anthony Bagshaw Gecko Managing Director
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