B2B Customers, PIE and Personalisation.

PIE

In the office last week the question of B2B versus B2C came up. The question was whether you need to do things differently when communication with a B2B audience to what you might do when targeting a B2C audience.

By and large, the answer we came up with was ‘No, not really’. B2B audiences are still, fundamentally, audiences and so the approach to predictive personalisation and effective marketing communications are the same as any other audience. What differs are the messages themselves as the B2B audience is more diverse and has a wider emotional range.

B2C and B2B Audience Types

Take your average B2C holiday buyer, you only have to look at travel, tour operator and airline sites to see that B2C holiday buyers are engaged by aspirational images and videos, solid deals and easy to understand prices and then anything that taps into their emotional state and needs - the location, climate, attractions etc. However, the key point is that the focus is on the customer, the experience and to a certain extent, the price.

In summary, you could say that with B2C there are the following customer types:

  • The User, who is likely to be the buyer and be funding the purchase

  • Other stakeholders, family members and friends who show an interest or might be directly affected by the purchase or, are possibly contributing to the purchase

Whilst the B2C example is simplified, the point is that B2B customers have a wider emotional range. This is because there are a number of different types of B2B buyer:

  • The User - not necessarily the the buyer or the person who’s money it is

  • The Buyer - sometimes the user but often the purse holder or a purchasing department

  • The Money - the person who is funding the purchase, either a budget holder or an owner manager, whose money it actually is

  • Other Stakeholders - line managers of The User or The Buyer or The Money and other team members who are interested or affected by the Purchase

B2B Audiences, Needs and Interests

The key difference from this audience type analysis is that with B2B there are a wider range of needs and interests exhibited by each audience type.

For example, let’s say we have a Marketing Manager who is interested in buying Sitecore as the new Content Management System and Digital Marketing Platform, so that they can improve their digital offering through profiling, personalisation and automated marketing.

Audience

 

 

Needs

 

 

Value Proposition

 

 

Product

 

 

The User: A Marketing Manager in a B2B business

 

 

To know the product features and benefits, the potential value for the business and ROI

 

 

Marketing leading CMS and DMS with a range of bleeding edge features to give

 

 

Sitecore Customer Experience Platform (CXP) with Email Experience Manager (EXM)

 

 

The Buyer: The Purchasing Department

 

 

To know the price, warranties and payment options

 

 

Good value, best deal and simple purchase process

 

 

Sitecore CXP with EXM

 

 

The Money: The Marketing Director whose budget will pay for it

 

 

To know the features, terms, payment options and ROI

 

 

This is the best product for the best value

 

 

Sitecore CXP with EXM

 

 

Other Stakeholders: The IT Department

 

 

The impact on the business and any services that are needed to support it

 

 

Simple to install, standard technolgies, first and second line support

 

 

Sitecore CXP with EXM

 

 

We can see from this example that the Offering, i.e. the product, is the same for all audiences but the Needs and Value Proposition is different for each audience type and is also more diverse, in terms of the informational needs.

B2B Personalisation Strategies

Consequently, the personalisation strategy that a brand needs to adopt needs to recognise and understand the different audiences and their needs is key to enabling and facilitating the B2B sales process.

There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved and the following is an overview of a successful approach that we have implemented for a client with both B2B and B2C customers.

Personalisation: B2B or B2C

First of all we needed to identify B2B and B2C customers. Consequently, a site map was created with specific content, silo’ed into defined sections of the digital platform in order to be able to identify different audience types.

Visitors who visit B2B focused pages and consume more technical data are segmented into the B2B bucket.

Also, Goals were categorised, using Goal facets, so that those that completed key interactions (i.e. goals) could be profiled and segmented into the B2B audience.

Further Dynamic Segmentation: B2B Audience Types

Once we have visitors in the B2B segment we then use further dynamic segmentation to further sub-group into the different types of B2B audiences applicable to this client using either Role in the Business (e.g. the User, the Buyer or The Money) or by looking at key customer types within this sector.

By doing this, we have then been able to implement dynamic segments within our marketing lists of users by B2B or B2C and then by the sub-groups within these top level audience types.

This allows to thenpersonalisethe digital experience to meet the informational and emotional needs of each audience type. In a basic example, this includes showing payment options, terms and value messages to those that pay the bills, whilst promoting features, benefits and ROI messages to the user and their line managers.

Effort and Value Considerations (PIE)

In addition to the audience needs and engagement plan it’s always worth factoring effort and value into your personalisation strategies. When planning a content framework and messaging strategy for a key audience consider, the cost of implementation - the costs of things like content production, sales processes, video/photography. WEigh this up against the potential value from the segment. Where the value outweighs the effort then you have a solid case for personalisation.

In Sitecore terms, we call this P.I.E - Potential, Impact and Ease. When you can define an audience that has real potential and you can easily identify them and present them with good content and calls to action, then the audience meets the PIE test and they should be considered within you implementation plan.

Summary

For clients that have diverse audiences, that make engagement and buying decisions for very different reasons, implementing a platform that allows for dynamic segmentation and personalisation is key.

Many clients have the desire and the understanding that they need to be able to talk to each key audience type differently but don’t have the technology to be able to deliver on this effectively and the irony is that the technology is the easy bit!

Once you have the capability to deliver personalised messages, based on earned and learned visitor data, then the key to success is implementing a personalisation program that reflects the way in which you capture data - building up profiles and implementing audience sub-groupings through an on-going process of engagement and experience. This then allows you to personalise the experience and progress your visitors through your optimum user experience, focusing your visitors on your set outcomes and objectives.



Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

17 May 2016 - 7 minute read
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