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What Is Personalization?

Personalization is the practice of delivering targeted content to a person based on known attributes or context. Today’s consumers expect personalized digital experiences, so as a tactic, personalization has become de rigueur for marketers and advertisers who strive to engage and convert prospects with relevant, targeted, and timely content.

Personalization can take countless forms, but here are a few common examples:

  • Personalized emails that address a recipient by name or reference company name
  • “You may also like” webpage recommendations that suggest additional content to read or products to purchase (hello Amazon), based on behavior or persona attributes
  • Landing pages and webpages dynamically personalized for a specific company or industry/sector, serving up tailored messaging
  • Intelligent pop-ups with offers based on the referral source (“30 percent discount for Microsoft customers!”)

These examples can be delivered by a personalization engine within a marketing automation platform or content management system. They can be targeted to reach people in a one-to-one, one-to-few, or one-to-many fashion.

Subcategories: Dynamic, Programmatic, Implicit, Explicit

Marketing personalization can be further defined into several subcategories:

  • Dynamic personalization: When content changes dynamically based on customer segmentation or behavior, executed by rule-based triggers and a taxonomy and tagging strategy. This type of personalization is more advanced and flexible than the programmatic personalization used in, for example, an email salutation such as “Dear {!CONTACT.FIRSTNAME}.”
  • Explicit personalization: When you know exactly who an individual prospect or visitor is and create an experience tailored to their known needs and wants.
  • Implicit personalization: This type infers information about a prospect based on their behavior patterns and creates an experience tailored to their estimated needs and wants.

Building Blocks and Strategy Elements

Attributes and triggers are two important building blocks of any personalization effort:

  • Attributes: Key facts about your customer or audience, their situation, and their history with your organization that can be used to inform and create personalized content. Typical B2B attributes can include role or title, industry, company size, location, and topic interest.
  • Triggers: Data or user actions that can be used to identify a specific persona attribute and activate the delivery of personalized content. Types of triggers can include environmental (IP and location, device OS), inferred demographic (personal or account level), behavioral (new/return users, previous time on site, saved/shared content), or temporal variables like time of day.

Why Personalization Is Essential in B2B Marketing

Today, both B2B and B2C consumers expect companies to provide an “Amazon-like” digital experience: They should understand consumers’ individual preferences, interests, and past purchases and tailor website and app experiences accordingly. Nearly three-quarters of consumers surveyed by Janrain reported that they become frustrated by irrelevant or impersonal content that has nothing to do with their interests.

On the positive side, numerous studies have shown game-changing benefits:

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