Clear Strategy and Careful Planning are Key to Content Personalization at Scale

Posted December 16, 2021

Clear Strategy and Careful Planning are Key to Content Personalization at Scale

Posted December 16, 2021

With Tricia Wiles Ruiz, Creative Content Manager, Anteriad

Content personalization boils down to speaking to your B2B prospects and customers as if you know them. Not just where they work and what their job title is, but what keeps them up at night. Address prospects as peers and build a personal relationship that grows as they learn more about your products and services.

It all begins with identifying the topics that interest your audience. From there, you need to understand how they will use the content you give them to solve business problems, based on their role in the company. And to really win their trust, you need to speak as a part of their community – not as someone who’s just trying to sell them something.

It’s a tall order, but it’s what today’s self-directed B2B buyer expects. In many ways, B2B buying habits are beginning to resemble B2C purchases more than the classic B2B funnel. (A recent study by McKinsey found that fully three-quarters of B2B buyers now prefer self-guided digital buying experiences.) Personally, I know that I tend to think of myself more as a “user” of commerce sites, rather than a “consumer,” and the same is true of informed, demanding B2B buyers.

Optimizing content personalization with a focus on revenue 

True conversations with these buyers start with personalized marketing content – and a lot of it. Creating the volume of personalized content needed to fuel your revenue pipeline demands technology, a deep understanding of your target accounts’ buying process, and a strategic approach to content creation.

I recently spoke with Mark Kilens, the VP of Content and Community at Drift, about how he’s built his team to create deeply personalized content from the perspective of his best customers. Our conversation, a part of the Anteriad Accelerating Revenue series, covered a lot of bases, from Drift’s plans to build a personalized “membership” experience on its own site, to how marketing content lays the groundwork for sales to act as a strategic consultant.

To create personalized marketing content at scale, Kilens says it’s vital to align your efforts to the channels and Buying Group personas that drive revenue. Content is a major revenue contributor at Drift, he adds, with organic search being one of the company’s top-converting channels.

Proving revenue for any activity is critical, and it’s a hot topic in content personalization. Kilens mentions a recent Gartner report grabbed headlines when it suggested that 80 percent of marketers may abandon their content personalization efforts in the next few years. But a deeper look shows their frustrations are largely due to poor planning and resource allocation – not a lack of confidence in the value of personally relevant and useful content. Gartner found that personalization accounts for 14 percent of marketing budgets, but only about 5 percent of marketers say that they feel good about their personalization strategy. That’s a recipe for failure, no matter what you are doing.

Kilens stressed that every content project at Drift starts with a campaign brief, with these four key success factors spelled out:

  • Trigger – What event initiated the effort.
  • Justification – How the effort will grow revenue.
  • Objective – Quantifiable goals for the effort.
  • Audience – The different Buying Group personas the effort will reach, and how content will be personalized to meet their distinct interest sets.

With a clear path to revenue, marketers can create personalized content at scale with confidence. 

‘Content brokers’

Perhaps the most interesting detail Kilens shares during our conversation is that about 70 percent of Drift’s marketing content originates from people outside the company, who represent the customer communities he wants to engage. In fact, he describes his team as “content brokers,” more so than “content creators.”

Sourcing content from actual members of the target audience helps build the insight and empathy that’s essential to personalization and cause people to connect with your content. It helps customers see themselves as part of the conversation, and adds a sense of authenticity to marketing touches that otherwise don’t materialize until a sales call.

Content teams built around purchase stage and persona

Another interesting aspect of Drift’s personalization strategy is the organization of its content teams. Each team is focused on a content format and its role in the B2B purchase journey. Within these three focus areas, ‘content brokers’  develop specific offerings for distinct Buying Group personas.

  • Media, including video and podcasts. Kilens said these pieces typically align to the classic “high funnel” and resemble a B2C play, akin to what you might see from media influencers.
  • More in-depth conversational marketing, which often resembles inside sales. The focus here is on how the solution works, and how it might work at the prospect’s business. Think conversation starters.
  • Educational content, primarily targeted at influencers who will spread the word within their organization.

Drift’s purchase journey models align to these concepts, and they enable the purposeful camping planning and execution that results in revenue.

Check out the episode!

Be sure to check out our full conversation with Mark Kilens on your favorite platform.