BtoB Individualization: Align Profile & Behavioral Data to be Relevant.

March 17, 2014

BtoB publishers talk a lot about driving traffic to their websites and it’s true, increasing traffic is an important goal—but you don’t want your visitors to keep on driving through. You want them to park for a while. Why? Because providing a visitor with a relevant, content-rich ecosystem, improves their individual experience, which drives engagement and loyalty, increases page views and time on site and ultimately, drives revenue. Many publishers still think that traffic is the best indicator of success, but really, it’s what you do with that traffic that matters because that is what results in increased RPR.

Even if that all makes sense, you are still contending with visitors who are better educated, who have less time to spend and who typically have a short attention span. That’s where individualization comes in. Your visitor wants to find relevant information without a lot of clicking to get there. Essentially, they want a dynamic, highly-responsive website that gives them what they want, when and how they want it—at first touch. They want an emotional bond that feeds their interests and relates to their social environment (in-person and virtual) and locality.

Yes, this is something that BtoC businesses (think Amazon) have been doing for a while, but even though BtoB publishers are aware of the need, as a group, they’ve been somewhat slow to respond. And no, you can’t just impose the BtoC model on BtoB publishers, but you can take a few of the concepts and run with them. Namely, leveraging data to develop and present the most relevant content that is specific to the needs of individuals and/or reader personas. Put another way: you can optimize your website to help readers find the best content for them—and you can do that by using profile and behavior data, and by enhancing the feeling of personal connection through social and mobile.

What’s the foundation for individualization?

Deep data and metadata, of course. Individualization is based in two types of data, actually:

  • Profile data, which includes demographic information, geolocation, etc. This data is more prescriptive and focuses on your base audience segments.
  • Behavioral data, which tells you how a person came to your site and what they did when they were there, like Searches and responses to various offers and prompts, as well as page views and length of time on site. Among other things, this data is valuable in informing how you deliver certain types of content.

Of course, the two types work together, and behavioral data can help you to target new visitors who haven’t yet given you any profile data. As they make choices on your site, you gather more info and begin to get a clearer picture of their preferences.

What Does Individualized Mean?

Well, it’s what we just talked about—delivering the most relevant content to a visitor, in a way that makes them feel they are in the right place and recognized in a way that doesn’t require a lot of work on their part. But, let’s talk about what that looks like:

  • Everyone knows your name: If you are not a new visitor, you log in and are greeted by name and with new, relevant content.
  • Segmentation: When you identify visitors as a particular persona, they go through a navigation path on your website that is specific to that persona—so that they are seeing the kind of content that is most meaningful to people with like interests.
  • Targeting: marketing messages are delivered to those customers whose behavior has indicated an interest in that type of product or service.
  • Recommendations: a customer’s purchase history and past visits enable you to show them products that are related to their expressed interests.
  • Customization: Relevant content is served to a visitor, based on what they’ve browsed before. Every search a visitor pursues helps the subsequent visits become more tailored.
  • Interests addressed. Good search features and subscription options cater to the visitor’s interests.
  • Identity acknowledged. Content and navigation are provided in the context of the visitor’s community experience.
  • Mobility honored. A visitor’s experience is not compromised by the device they are on.
  • Action Available: If it’s relevant to them, visitors see it when they can act on it.
  • Progression is logical. Visitors are met with the appropriate information and tools, based on where they are on the path to purchasing.
  • Multifaceted: A visitor experience leverages multiple touch points--online, email, social, in-person, phone calls, etc.

Of course, you've got to be able to capture behavioral data, and have the tools available to make these steps possible: a dynamic, multi-tiered taxonomy as part of an Enterprise Publishing System.

Tips for Individualization

Not sure how best to do this? Here are a few tips to help:

  • Begin by segmenting or identifying your predominant customer personas and frequently add to or revisit them.
  • Create specific pages for specific segments of your audience, based on roles, interests and behaviors.
  • Test it out.
  • Measure results—look at conversions or other desired actions.
  • Be mobile. Do not ignore the importance of the growing segment of mobile users.
  • Automate your approach as much as possible; unify the components of your publishing system to eliminate data silos.
  • Be efficient: look for systems with a single dashboard to manage all content, data, subscriptions, social and more.

Remember, relevant, quality content is at the heart of individualization, and for you, that’s the easy part—so you’re already on the road to success.