Maintaining customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing (ABM) relies, above all else, on one important concept – personalisation.
Much more than addressing the customer or lead by first name in email correspondence, true personalisation means designing strategies that put individual customer experiences at the heart of all marketing communications. Indeed, customer-focused marketing means not only educating prospects on the benefits of your product, service or solution, but going above and beyond to create a brand that buyers love.
This is no mean feat. No two customers are the same, and so prioritising the wants, needs and expectations of potentially thousands of individuals – and creating individual experiences for them all – is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers today, and it’s leading to some big changes in the industry.
The Importance of Customer Focus in Inbound and Account-based Marketing
Time moves fast in the digital age, and the consumer landscape is constantly changing – and so too is marketing.
The internet has transformed the way consumers want to engage and communicate with brands – and so brands have had to change the way they engage and communicate with their audiences.
With the rise of social media, customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing has been revolving around content for the past ten years at least. Importantly, however, consumers expect that content to be informative, engaging, and increasingly relevant to their precise wants and needs – and if it’s not, they’ll quickly turn to a brand’s that is.
Research from MarketingProfs reveals in no uncertain terms that customers want personalisation. 75% feel that it’s important to be recommended products based on their purchase history, 81% want promotions targeted to their preferences, and another 81% are open to switching loyalty to brands that provide a better, more personalised experience.
(Image source: i.marketingprofs.com)
And this isn’t just a B2C trend.
Indeed, as B2B buyers and decision-makers are increasingly expecting B2C experiences from the brands they engage with, B2B marketers, too, are becoming increasingly alert to the need for customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing.
The most recent report from the Content Marketing Institute – ‘B2B Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends’ – reveals that 72% of B2B marketers always or frequently consider how content impacts the overall experience a person has with their organisation, 67% focus on creating content for the audience versus their brand, 60% prioritise providing the right content for the right person at the right time, and 41% craft content based on specific points of the buyer’s journey.
(Image source: contentmarketinginstitute.com)
The Four Pillars of Personalisation
As customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing continues to take priority, driving personalisation at scale means that the marketing function is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary.
Content remains the core pillar of ABM and inbound marketing – as it will do for the foreseeable future. But creating personalised content experiences at each step of the buyer’s journey relies on two key things – data and technology.
(Image source: i.marketingprofs.com)
As such, moving beyond one-size-fits-all content marketing, organisations need to realign their marketing functions along four core pillars to ensure customer focus and personalisation remains at the heart of all marketing activities.
Today, marketers have more data at their disposal than ever before.
From CRMs to Google Analytics, the customer journey can be tracked from start to finish, and high-value insights can be gleaned and predictions can be made to inform personalisation strategies for customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing.
Personalisation, of course, relies on knowing your prospects and customers – what content they engage with and download, which social channels they prefer, which emails they open (and discard), and what offers they respond to.
Personal and firmographic data is also crucial for identifying purchase intent – job roles, size of organisation, buying power, board influence.
All of this data needs to be collected, mined for insights, and acted upon to create personalised customer journeys for every prospect that comes an organisation’s way.
The role of content in customer-focused marketing remains steadfast – to attract, engage, and retain customers.
However, from a personalisation standpoint, content needs to be increasingly tailored on an individual level.
A first-time visitor to a website will have very different requirements to a third-time visitor – and the appropriate content needs to be served accordingly. As more data is gathered about individuals, content creators need to react to produce tailored content that addresses their specific wants and needs. But, even before this, different versions of a website need to display to different visitors based on demographic, firmographic, and locational data.
As social media continues to proliferate, there is an ever-shifting landscape of options for marketers to choose between to reach their audience.
In order to continue to maintain customer focus in inbound marketing and account-based marketing, organisations need to be agile and flexible enough to go where their customers are.
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Historically, these have been the go-to channels for B2B marketers building a pathway to purchase for their prospects. However, while these big players will remain crucial, competitor platforms continue to disseminate targets. Medium, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, WhatsApp, Messenger – getting in front of audiences means building a presence across them all, and being ready to engage prospects where and how they want to be engaged, as and when they’re ready.
Personalisation at scale is impossible without technology.
Indeed, without software, no data can be gathered in the first place, which in turn means that no insights can be gleaned through which content can be tailored, and deciding where to publish and promote that content is merely guesswork.
Powerful CRM systems such as Hubspot are required to manage all the data and all the content flowing across channels, and audiences and contacts need to be segmented on an increasingly micro-level if meaningful and competitive personalisation is to be achieved.
Over to You
The need for personalisation is changing how we approach customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing. Data is the key driver, but technology is required to make sense of it, and creatives need to be aware of – and involved with – all the insights gleaned in order to tailor content effectively.
In short, customer focus in inbound and account-based marketing will continue to need additional resources if it is to respond to evolving expectations and demands, and ensure that brand experiences are tailored and engaging.