Personalization is a popular and active topic of discussion in the e-commerce world. Most eCommerce vendors and agencies talk a lot about how they can help their customers create a personalized customer experience. In B2B, where we often are just fighting to get our site up, what role should Personalization play?
B2B Buyers Want Personalization
50% of B2B buyers surveyed identified improved personalization as being a key feature for suppliers they would want to work with.
What is personalization?
From practicalecommerce.com, personalization is
presenting information to a consumer that acknowledges whom he/she is and what his intentions are — to make his/her interaction more meaningful. Many online stores have a history of what you have purchased, and even your visits. They may know where you live, if you prefer expensive or low priced items, and so forth. By using that information to deliver targeted content and promotions, they are personalizing your experience and making it a more positive one.
Basically, personalization is taking what you know about a customer and using it to make a unique experience tailored for that user. The end results for merchant is intended to be higher conversion.
Again, from Practicalecommerce.com, personalization can applied to:
- Opt-in emails. Segment your lists based on products, shopping preferences, or frequency.
- Transaction emails. Offer complementary products along with a promotional coupon in your confirmation emails.
- On your website. Offer different navigation options, a good site search engine, landing pages for promotions, or saved shopping carts for shoppers.
- Social media. Use Twitter to engage in personal dialogues with your customers. Use hashtags for product discussions. Create Pinterest boards that are topical
- Loyalty programs. Offer rewards to personalize the customer experience and reward them to share more with you.
- Packaging. Include printed promotions for related products when you ship an order.
- On phone and chat. If you talk or chat with a customer, offer her upsells and related items. Be sure to pull up the customer’s history while you are talking to her and personalize the experience in some way.
- Ad networks If you do remarketing through Google or other ad networks, tie in specific products or categories whenever you can to increase your visibility.
- Landing pages. Create landing pages for promotions, for repeat customers when they log in, or any other time you can create a personalized experience
- Wish lists. Provide a method for customers to quickly return to the things they are interested in.
- All devices. If you can see your shopping list on a website, be sure you can get to it on your smartphone.
What role does personalization have in B2B E-Commerce?
The first thing we need to do it think of it as Segmentation instead of Personalization. Segmentation is a term used in B2B Marketing and most organizations do some form of segmentation in their current marketing programs.
The great thing about B2B is that B2B users are used to logging in. When they log in, you know who they are. You know what company they work for, where they are located, their position, and the industry that they are in. B2B companies should strive to make the logged in experience richer than the vanilla experience by:
- Creating a custom catalog based on their contract, terms and conditions
- Contract pricing and volume pricing
- Make sure that search and navigation are in context of their contract (what products are they allowed to see)
- Segment content on the home page based on their industry (see Medline.com for an example)
- Provide a quick order or bulk order form for quick ordering
- Payment of invoices and other Accounts Payable activities
- Segmented by role: buyers, approvers
Start your personalization / segmentation strategy with your customer
Segmentation begins with the basic best practice of defining the rules by which you interact with your customers. The key to creating effective personalization rules is leveraging what you know about your customers based on past and current interactions and using the customer profile in your eCommerce platform or CRM to store key customer attributes. These attributes combine to create customer segments or personas that enable you to drive relevant interactions. Personas offer a way of enhancing your traditional customer segments with subjective information that personifies that segment (for example, engineers in the Aerospace engineers show have been a customer more than 36 months). Like segments, personas are informed by customers’ demographics, psychographics, purchase patterns, the channel they use, as well as the value associated with their importance to your business. Personas start with understanding customer profiles—what you know about an individual based on both offline and online interactions.
But you don’t have to rush it
No need to rush into segmentation. Start with the basics first. Get them right. Then take a look at your customers and figure out way you can deliver a personalized experience that is relevant to your industry.