Your B2B audience demands more than just churning out content—it’s time to captivate, engage, and conquer. With 72% of business buyers expecting vendors to personalize engagement to their needs, offering tailored, relevant, and personalized content experiences is becoming increasingly crucial. Personalization is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have if you want to stay ahead of the competition and drive better results from your B2B content marketing efforts.
However, one of the challenges you’re likely facing when it comes to content personalization is limited resources. Creating personalized content requires time, effort, and resources. You may struggle to allocate resources toward personalized content creation due to limited budgets and staffing. Additionally, creating personalized content at scale can be daunting, requiring a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs and preferences. You may not have the resources to develop content that speaks to each customer segment.
This blog post will dive into three critical personalization vectors and provide insights on leveraging them to balance personalization and resources. By utilizing these vectors, you can determine the optimal level of segmentation that will allow your brand to offer personalized content experiences without overextending its resources.
Understanding the Three Content Personalization Vectors
Content personalization involves tailoring marketing efforts to individual customers based on their unique needs, preferences, and behaviors. It goes beyond simple segmentation and allows for a more targeted approach to marketing.
There are three ways to personalize content – industry, persona, and state of mind. The key to finding the right balance between content production and resources is understanding the three content personalization vectors and how and when to use them.
The first vector is industry. Focusing your content on a particular industry enables you to talk about the specific challenges, opportunities, regulations, and best practices that are relevant to that sector. This means that people in different industries have different worries, likes, and issues that your content needs to address to connect with them.
The industry that your prospects and customers operate in does not change over time, making this a static segment. This means you can develop a bank of evergreen content about a specific industry that addresses their unique needs.
For example, healthcare companies may be concerned about the privacy and security of their patient data, while technology firms may prioritize innovation and automation. Without understanding these nuances, marketing messages will be generic and ineffective at capturing the attention and interest of the targeted audience.
The next level of segmentation is at the persona level. A persona is a fictional character representing a specific segment of your brand’s target audience. Tailoring content to the persona and not just the company is vital because companies do not read content or make decisions – people do.
Like the industry vector before this, a persona is also a static vector. While prospects may change companies, their role within those companies only sometimes changes. The fact that a persona’s role within a company does not often change is vital in content personalization because it allows brands to create targeted and personalized content that resonates with their audience regardless of the company they work for. By understanding a persona’s needs, pain points, and preferences based on their role, brands can develop content that addresses those specific issues and speaks to them in a relevant and valuable way.
Once you understand your personas, you can tailor your content to their needs and preferences. For example, if you are targeting a persona focused on bottom-line results, you emphasize the financial benefits of your product or service. Or, if you are targeting a persona that values sustainability, highlight the eco-friendly aspects of your offering.
State of Mind
The third vector is a state of mind, which refers to the prospect’s mindset, attitude, and beliefs. The prospect’s state of mind is strongly influenced by where they are in the buyer’s journey. Unlike the two vectors before this, which are static, your prospect constantly moves through different states of mind as they move through the buyer’s journey. With each change, their content needs also change.
The latest research from Demand Gen Report reveals that 55% of buyers have reported increased reliance on content to make purchasing decisions compared to the previous year. As your prospect approaches that decision point, they need the right content, personalized to what matters to them at that point in the journey – a tall order for today’s marketer.
Developing Content Based on the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is a non-linear process influencing the prospect’s mind. By understanding where the opportunity is in their journey, marketing teams can personalize their content (and content types) to align with the prospect’s needs and light the path to the next step in the buyer’s journey.
In See state, potential customers are not actively considering your solution or service. To break through the noise, content must provide tangential value or entertainment. The key is not simply to explain why your product is necessary, but rather to demonstrate how it can enhance and improve people’s lives.This is content that provides helpful tips or advice, shares fascinating insights and facts, or provides entertainment.
In the Think state, your buyer’s eyes are open to content, but they are not yet ready to act. They want to learn more about their issue and the solutions available. It’s crucial to note that this stage is not about pushing sales; the content must be about your prospect and their problem. Compelling content will help your prospect understand the issue further and showcase how your product or service could help solve it.
Blog posts are a staple here, but not your only or best option. According to the Demand Gen Content Preference Survey Report, prospects in the early mid-stages of the buyer’s journey preferred assessments, webinars, and case studies.
In the Do state, your prospect has committed to making a change and has a timeline. At this point in the process, they are ready to engage with sales representatives or fill out forms requesting contact. This is the perfect opportunity for you to discuss your company and your product offerings in greater detail. By showcasing your unique selling points, features, and benefits, you can distinguish your brand from competitors and highlight the value you bring to the table.
At this point, your goal is to get the best content to the right prospect at the right time. Personalization based on industry or persona is less critical in the Do state because you are talking about your company. It is important to note that while industry and persona-based personalization is less significant in the Do State compared to earlier stages, customer-centric communication is still vital. You must put the needs and wants of your customers at the forefront of your messaging to establish trust and build meaningful relationships.
Content that performs well in this stage includes user reviews or testimonials, third-party analyst reports, and ROI calculators.
What Is the Right Level of Segmentation?
While there are three ways to personalize content, countless intersections can be created. So, what is the right level of segmentation and personalization?
The general rule of thumb is to have as few market segments as possible. When you have fewer segments, it is easier to keep your message consistent, and you can allocate your marketing resources more effectively. However, there are times when splitting a segment is necessary.
To determine when to split a segment, ask yourself if there are significant differences between the interests, needs, or behaviors of different groups within the same segment. If you cannot use the same language and message cohesively across the entire segment, it may be time to split it.
For example, suppose you are selling software to two groups: small business owners and enterprise-level corporations. Although both groups are in the same industry, they have different needs, budgets, decision-making processes, and buying groups. Using the same message and language for both groups will likely create confusion and disengage one or both. Segmenting them into two groups will enable you to create personalized messaging that speaks directly to each group’s unique challenges and pain points.
Ultimately, successful segmentation requires ongoing analysis and testing. As your audience and market evolve, you may need to adjust and refine your segments to stay relevant and competitive. By choosing the correct number of segments and knowing when to split them, you can create more effective marketing campaigns that resonate with your specific audience, increasing brand awareness and sales.
How To Allocate Resources To Produce Personalized Content
Resource constraints can be a significant challenge for brands when producing personalized content. Marketing is a resource-intensive activity, requiring budget, staffing, and access to subject matter experts to produce high-quality content that resonates with your target audience. However, with limited resources, you may fall short in creating personalized content, across all your target segments and states of mind, leading to a haphazard content strategy that fails to deliver the desired results. This section will explore the importance of understanding your content production resources and how to overcome resource constraints to develop effective and efficient personalized content.
Budget is one of the primary constraints limiting your ability to produce personalized content at scale. The budget you allocate towards content production will determine the quality and quantity of content you can create. When reviewing your budget, it is crucial to consider the types of content that you want to produce and the quantity required to support your marketing strategy. From there, you can back into the level of personalization that you can sustain with the available budget.
At this point, you face a choice: ignore a persona, industry, or point in the buyer’s journey or lump it in with others. For personas and industries, your best bet is often to merge segments, at least for the moment, whenever you can create content speaking to Segment A and still have it resonate with Segment B. If you can pull that off about 80% of the time, then absolutely, lump B in with A. Just make sure that your content is still written to knock the socks of Segment A so when you split them out in the future you don’t have two pieces of content to rewrite.
For the buyer’s journey, prioritize the Do state (AKA bottom of the funnel or action stage) and work backward to the See state (AKA top of the funnel or awareness stage). This way, you can focus your efforts where they will have the most immediate impact.
However, limited budgets do not necessarily mean that brands cannot produce personalized content. To overcome this resource constraint, brands can prioritize content that offers the most significant value to their target audience and focus on creating high-quality, targeted content for specific audience segments. Brands can also leverage user-generated content, influencer collaborations, and other forms of co-creation to supplement their in-house content production efforts. Additionally, repurposing content across different channels and formats can extend the reach of the content and maximize its impact. By being creative and strategic in their approach to content production, brands can overcome budget constraints and produce effective, personalized content that resonates with their audience.
Bandwidth, or the amount of time and staffing available for content production, is another critical resource impacting a brand’s ability to produce personalized content at scale. The amount of bandwidth a brand has at its disposal can determine the frequency at which it can create new content, the depth of research it can conduct, and the level of creativity it can apply. Understanding your bandwidth is crucial to determining how much content you can produce, impacting how much content personalization you can support.
To overcome bandwidth constraints, you can streamline your content production process by investing in content creation tools, repurposing existing content, and prioritizing content that requires less time and resources. You can also leverage internal and external subject matter experts to help create high-quality content that speaks to your target audience’s specific needs and preferences. Outsourcing content creation to trusted partners or freelancers can also help you supplement in-house resources and expand bandwidth. By being strategic and resourceful in your approach to content production, you can overcome bandwidth constraints and produce effective, personalized content that resonates with your audience.
Access to Subject Matter Experts
The third critical resource that can impact your ability to produce personalized content at scale is access to experts. Experts in your industry or niche can add tremendous value to your content through thought leadership, insights, or new information. Experts can bring a fresh perspective to your content, help establish your brand as an authority in your industry, and allow you to develop unique content that differentiates you from your competitors.
However, access to subject matter experts can also be a significant resource constraint, even if those experts are inside your company. To overcome this resource limitation, brands can leverage their existing network of industry contacts, reach out to subject matter experts via social media or other online platforms, or collaborate with industry influencers to co-create content. Brands can also consider investing in employee training or education programs to develop additional subject matter expertise in-house, thereby increasing the pool of experts available for content creation.
Content personalization is essential to stay ahead of the competition and drive better results from your marketing efforts. However, creating personalized content can be challenging due to limited resources such as budget, bandwidth, and access to subject matter experts. To overcome these resource constraints, you must understand the different types of resources needed to produce high-quality, personalized content at scale, and then make adjustments to get the most out of your resources.
You can do this by prioritizing content that offers the most significant value to your target audience. By using the three personalization vectors to create high-quality targeted content for specific audience segments, you can produce effective and efficient personalized content that resonates with your audience, establishes you as a thought leader in your industry, and drive better business outcomes.
We hope the topics outlined in this blog post have addressed some of your concerns and questions about content personalization. If you would like additional assistance in identifying content personalization opportunities or a more robust content strategy, please check out our Content Strategy Workshop.