How to address the need for customer personalisation in a world full of B2B marketing content

For those of you that missed our first ever Instagram Live on Monday with the inimitable Catherine (Cat) Howard from Atos, do not fret, you can view it here.

We’ve also captured the chat in all its glory in this article, but first, time for a little introduction.

As VP of Marketing at Atos, a global leader in digital services, Cat knows all too well about the shift in buyer expectations and the resulting headaches this gives B2B marketers. We picked Cat’s brains about the growing trend for personalisation, how it’s impacting marketing teams and what she thinks our industry needs to be doing about it.

For starters, we know personalisation is a growing trend in marketing – 42% of those surveyed by the CIM last year said it was a key priority for them. We also understand that 50% of all marketing materials that are sent out are totally irrelevant to the recipient. So, we asked Cat what her take was on personalisation and she was flabbergasted it was only 50%!

“I think we’ve all seen examples in B2B and B2C where personalisation has been non-existent” said Cat. “I think personalisation is key for marketing in really making a difference for an organisation. The human aspect of marketing is becoming more and more important – we are not just business individuals we are people at the end of the day. It’s not just B2B or B2C, it’s about interacting with individuals and getting across what is important to them.”

“We have incredible technology, professional marketers and a real understanding of our target market so we should all embrace this and be leading above B2C. We’ve got no excuse any more”.

So, what’s stopping B2B marketers embracing this approach? We see loads of content and great insight available with all our clients. What’s the hold up?

Cat’s view was simple – it’s because we are essentially all in sales-led organisations. She explains “Business priorities tend to be around showing a quick return but personalisation takes time to implement effectively. Also, we are positioning really complex solutions which is different from B2C – we have lots of layers of complex messaging and different groups of people, different personalities that we need to reach which makes it tough.”

We hear you! So, how do you make sure you get that right bit of content to the right person at the right time? There certainly isn’t a shortage of good content in this industry!

Cat believes that technology can be a real enabler here. Having the right tools available to get the content across and spending the time to map out the processes against the customer journey. Hmmm… is that expensive Cat?

“I think everyone’s budgets are limited but there are a vast amount of tools out there that are free. I think it’s really about having that focus and strategy behind what you are doing. Picking the target accounts you want to go after and making the investment in them. In my role in Atos we are very targeted, we know the accounts, we know the individuals and so it’s about mapping out their customer journey and being really smart about who and how we market to people.”

And finally, we were keen to get Cat’s view on the risk for marketers doing nothing. Her message was clear.

“Organisations risk becoming irrelevant in the market, particularly if you don’t get personalisation right. I think the days of generic content are long gone. It’s about really personalising the message to individuals because it is getting harder and harder to reach people.

We couldn’t agree more. There are 5 key things we took away from our chat but we would love to keep the conversation going so please do share your experiences with us:

  1. Personalisation is key and we should be aspiring to be better than B2C.
  2. Complex solutions and differing targets make personalisation in B2B tech marketing tough.
  3. Personalisation is about getting the right bit of content to the right person at the right time – but in B2B we have lots of content.
  4. We need to target 1:1 where it makes sense then apply customer journeys to the rest and use technology to do it at scale.
  5. If we don’t personalise, our messages will get lost in the noise and we will become irrelevant. We need to start today, not delay and keep evolving.

To watch the full interview between Cat Howard, VP Marketing at Atos and Helen Curtis, MD of Coterie, click here.

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