There’s many people that think B2B means boring and non-personal, but nothing could be further from the truth. While B2B may mean “business to business,” when you really think about it, you’ll realize that B2B is person to person – people selling to or buying from other people. And that requires getting personal.

What Does That Mean?

Personalization in B2B marketing doesn’t mean asking about a prospective client’s grandchildren (although if appropriate, it doesn’t hurt). It’s more about treating each lead and client as an individual, recognizing their preferences and priorities, even when there is more than one person involved in the buying process (the average is 8.2). Personalization makes the process human and creates connections between buyers and sellers. People want that: Some 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.

So how do you do that? Here are 5 ways:

Content

With B2C sales you can send out coupons or announce sales or BOGOs to consumers, but many B2B companies sell fixed-price services or specialty items, so sales and coupons won’t cut it.

B2B consumers want information: they want you to recognize their problem, helps them sort through the options, then offer them the best way to fix it. You need content that helps them get their head around it all and positions what you offer as the ideal solution. Remember to write like a human when you create that content by avoiding jargon, clichés, and buzzwords.

Social Media

Social media isn’t just for B2C brands: B2B decision-makers spend 74% more time on Facebook than other users! Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter, be sure to monitor the conversations.

Thank people who say nice things about your company; answer questions the come up on social media, and always respond quickly and calmly to criticism or complaints. Show an unhappy customer you care – when you do it on social media, it shows prospective customers that you are committed to making people happy with your products and services. Interactions on social media are important: 50% of LinkedIn users say they are more likely to buy from a company they interact with on LinkedIn.

Email

“To whom it may concern,” is no longer a viable way to do business. Emails should address a customer, prospective or existing, by their name. Studies show that using a personalized subject line increases email open rate by 26%. The content of the email should be relevant to that customer’s needs and interests and should be geared to where they are in the buyer’s journey or what they’ve already purchased. Automation software such as HubSpot or SharpSpring can help you do that.

Recommend

Leverage what people are looking at and what they’re buying to make personalized suggestions about other purchases or services. Again, this requires automation, but personalized recommendations make people feel as if you really know them.

After the Sale

B2B personalization doesn’t end at the sale. Companies need to continue efforts after the sale because it helps turn your buyers into advocates. A thank you email after purchase, a follow-up email a week later to see how the customer is doing and help if they need it.

Educational content, events, and recommendations geared specifically to the clients and their needs are ways to continue showing your humanity and build strong relationships. But there’s a financial incentive too: Acquiring a new customer costs 5 times as much as retaining an existing one and existing customers spend more.

Don’t forget to show your personality too: Create videos for social and your website that show your company, its culture, and its employees. Let people get to know you. People like to do business with people they know.

Reasons to Personalize

B2B is a transaction with a businessperson on behalf of a business. Businesspeople, no matter whether junior level or C-level, are people who want the same things other people want when they make purchases. Here are a few things people want:

  1. 31% of consumers say they wish their shopping experience was far more personalized than it currently is; just 22% of consumers are satisfied with the level of personalization they currently receive (source).
  2. 75% claim “dynamic and personalized content” across channels is very important for the business (source).
  3. Around 80% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand (source).
  4. 87% of consumers surveyed say that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand (source).
  5. 63% of respondents are highly annoyed by the way brands continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic ad messages repeatedly (source).
  6. 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant (source).
  7. 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience (source).

Personalization Takes Works

While CMO reported in 2015 that 1/3 of marketers listed personalization as their number 1 priority, in 2018 Business2Community.com reported 55% of marketers think the industry isn’t getting personalization right. One possible reason: it’s not easy. Personalization requires planning, agility, time and money.

But when brands personalize, they win: 79% of organizations that exceeded revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy. Most organizations that exceeded revenue goals with personalization had a dedicated budget for just that purpose. So, if your business wants to get personal in your marketing efforts, get those 8.2 stakeholders together and start planning.