Personalisation at scale in B2B: What does this really mean and how do you achieve it?

Jul 4, 2023


by | Jul 4, 2023 | Campaigns, Strategy


Personalisation means so many different things, so before we get started, let’s clarify what we mean. For this purpose of this piece, we’ll focus on account-based marketing (ABM) for enterprise organisations – and what this means in a B2B context. 

Personalisation at scale

We’re not talking about email personalisation or high volume. We’re talking about discrete experiences for high value accounts. When we talk scale, we’re talking global, not country specific. So, in summary, global ABM programmes that require centralised orchestration that uses personalisation as a key part to tailor experiences. Therefore, you need to be able to deliver personalisation at scale.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to it.

Moving from a pilot programme to scaling

Right now, we’re finding most organisations that have tested and run pilot ABM programmes are now looking to scale their programmes for greater return and efficiency. Once the scaling is established across chosen markets, they’ll move into an ‘embed stage’ where an ‘always-on’ approach is applied with ongoing optimisation.  

Moving from a pilot programme to scaling requires a systematic and programmatic approach where technology comes into play. And with ABM programmes, what makes them successful is the relevant messaging for the recipient organisation which includes personalisation. So shifting from bespoke and semi-manual personalisation in a pilot to personalisation at scale needs a lot of thought. 

The processes and technologies to deliver this require significant thinking as programmes such as these impact operations, tech stack, strategy, communications and execution. The quality of the programme can only be as good as the thinking that sits behind it, which is then orchestrated through the technology. This is the biggest challenge and barrier – which is why most organisations are only at the scaling stage or focus on light weight programmes.

Personalisation sits at the heart of these strategies. Any ABM programme needs to have relevance to the recipient, and one of the most effective ways to do this is to deliver the right message, at the right time for them. This needs to go across all touchpoints from digital advertising right through to email, outreach and sales conversations, as well as web experiences.

How personalised is personalised?

There are varying degrees of personalisation. We’re all aware of the simplest types such as basic salutation or simple dynamic content based on conditions.

Personalisation can also extend to other forms such as tailoring whole journeys or experiences based on who the user is or how they have interacted. 

In the context of ABM, personalisation has to recognise who they are, usually at the company level. A better approach would be to tailor the content to the company so that it’s relevant to their needs and the best approach would be to do this at every stage the target ‘company’ sees or engages with you.  

For instance, imagine a scenario where a customer is reading the news and comes across an ad that is personalised to their company. The message in the ad aligns with their specific priorities and resonates with their needs. 

When the user clicks on the ad, they are directed to a web page that is specifically made for their company. This personalised page includes their company logo and addresses their specific issues or challenges. And the content on the page speaks directly to them, providing solutions to their problems. In addition, the page references their account manager, adding a more personal touch to the experience. 

When the user lands on the page, a workflow is triggered which tasks the account manager to reach out with a contact call, and if we know who the user is, an email workflow will trigger as well. This then sets off a series of sequential ads that follow across display and social, and the next visit to the website will change and be relevant to whether they’ve engaged with the account manager, read content designed for them, or where they’ve come from in that session.

To achieve this, you need several technology platforms working in harmony and your first-party data needs to be very robust.

Creating scale

Most platforms are built for scale, so the technology is available. The challenge is the thinking that goes around it. It doesn’t matter if you’re running one-to-one ABM campaigns that are specific to one company – but scaling that multiple times in multiple markets, or if you’re running campaigns that target several companies – personalisation at scale is possible.

Planning for personalisation at scale 

The planning is where the magic happens. Getting under the skin of the data available, and deeply understanding the customer are critical. This enables you to define cohorts or groups that can get served similar information and content based on company, profile, moment, platform and journey stage. All these elements need to be mapped out, structured into a planning grid which forms the foundation of the programme and is adjusted for each technology. 

Aligning with technology

There are multiple platforms that can enable personalisation at scale at every stage. To execute though, you need to draw together a cross-functional team which cohesively delivers against the programme. If you’re looking for full end-to-end personalisation, you’ll need to pull digital advertising experts, marketing operations experts, web teams and content strategists and writers, as well as engage sales so they’re bought in and ready to respond.

It’s a long way from the first multi-channel campaigns seen 10 years ago… and is significantly more complex resulting in a hot mess, but once implemented, they’ll deliver a better customer experience and ultimately higher return (for one, you’ll be putting your existing underused tech to good use and getting a better ROI from it, let alone seeing improved ABM programme return).

Raising the bar with artificial intelligence or machine learning

For those more advanced, or if you’ve just launched a scaled programme; regular review and optimisation should be implemented. A programme like this is a heavy investment and tailoring, adjusting and nuancing it are essential for learning, evolving it and ensuring an incremental return is delivered. Leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms will throw up all sorts of opportunities and certainly take you to the next level – and help you see the things you wouldn’t normally pick up.

Unlock the power of personalisation at scale
If you’re considering taking a step up after trialing an ABM pilot, extending personalisation opportunities or leveraging your technology to deliver a programme - talk to us. We’d be happy to help.

Further reading

The Modern curve of return: develop your demand strategy

The Digital: keep ahead of the B2B digital marketing trends

The impact of the strategic skills gap in marketing technology