Too Small for Big Data? 6 Steps to Use What You’ve Already Got

Big corporations are deploying systems that take advantage of Big Data and their goal is one-to-one marketing. Not only are they buying data to understand how to promote more effectively, they’re using the data they collect from customers to personalize marketing interactions. When you buy a book on Amazon, its recommendation engine promptly displays other books you might enjoy. Online retailers offer automated personal shoppers who suggest accessories to go with the outfit you’re considering.

Customized marketing isn’t just for B2C companies anymore. Software providers such as Adobe, CausataIBM, and Maxymiser are betting on solutions that tailor the entire customer experience; their platforms allow both B2B and B2C companies to capture customer insights, then test, segment, and target their campaigns.

How to Personalize Your Next Marketing Campaign

The Big Data approach requires infrastructure, tools, and business process changes. It’s a significant investment for a small or medium-sized business. What if your organization isn’t ready to do this? Is there a way to do more with what you’ve already got?

Absolutely. If you have a CRM/marketing automation system and a spreadsheet wizard on your team, here are a few tips for how you can use what you’ve already got.

  1. Analyze in-house data

    Using data from your CRM system drill down and identify a couple of key attributes for each of your ideal, high-value audiences. It could be company revenue, geographical location, number of distribution channels, or vertical industry – which of these are good indicators of high value? Make these your target segments. Start by focusing on no more than three high-value audiences.

  2. Figure out your target audience persona(s)

    Until you go through this exercise, you won’t be able to create messages that make your prospects sit up and say ‘Hey, this is exactly MY problem!’ These days, a committee of stakeholders is more likely to be making the buying decisions than an individual so you need to consider the personas for each target segment.

    Personas define more than the demographics of your audience, such as age, income, or job title. You need to understand their environment and influencers, both rational and emotional. What are their frustrations and fears? How do they measure success? What do they hear and who really influences them? The P.A.C.E. methodology for developing a digital marketing strategy always includes persona definition as a first step. If you need some guidelines for defining your buyer stakeholder persona(s), download this free P.A.C.E. Workbook.

  3. Create content tailored to roles

    Your marketing materials probably do a good job of promoting your brand in a general way. Go back to the personas you’ve defined for each of your target segments and develop content that speaks directly to those audiences: messaging, benefits, proof points. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 71% of the best-of-class businesses they surveyed create content specifically for the decision makers and influencers they need to engage.

  4. Improve your website

    When those stakeholders visit your web page, is it easy for them to find relevant information? Do your pages make them feel you’re focused on their needs?

    • Messages that target each segment: Update your home page with rotating banners. This is a fairly simple way to feature targeted images and messaging.
    • Sub-pages with tailored content: Determine whether you can create ‘portal’ pages to content that addresses your target segments. Within each segment, make sure there’s content that speaks to each of the stakeholder roles.
    • Make navigation more targeted: How does your website present navigation? Can those stakeholders find what they need within a couple of clicks? Does your home page provide links to the ‘portal’ pages?
    • Categorize blogs to segment and stakeholder interests: Don’t forget that your blog is part of your online presence. An active blog gets you SEO points, so make sure your blog posts, categories, and meta-data support the efforts you’re making to be more compelling to your target segments and personas.
  5. Narrow the focus of each digital marketing campaign

    Instead of running a generic Adwords campaign, run separate campaigns to address the key persona within each of your three segments. This allows you to tailor the messaging on display ads and follow up with landing pages that deliver more targeted messages and call-to-action links. We recommend running each campaign for three months. This is long enough to give the campaign a chance to gain traction and for you to collect meaningful data. Use remarketing for maximum impact – there's no extra cost to doing this and it’s very effective.

  6. Monitor and analyze

    As always, measure results. Link your Adwords campaign to Google Analytics for automatic tracking. If you’re comfortable with analytics, try using Google’s custom variables feature to refine data and create custom segments. Then determine whether you’ve got room for improving your campaign ROI by looking at metrics such as:

    • Which search keywords are most productive (i.e. result in the most conversions or visitor engagement)
    • Which keywords are used most frequently by certain segments
    • Which pages have the highest or lowest bounce rates – and from which segments

    Feed this information back into your campaign planning loop and decide whether you can further customize messages or content pages. Perhaps you need to re-word a landing page or change out content pages with high bounce rates. You may just need to optimize your highest-converting pages. Try using Google Content Experiments to split-test pages. Digital marketing campaigns are exercises in small, incremental improvements to achieve ROI.

In an increasingly ‘noisy’ online world, B2B companies must find better ways to engage. Big Data is all about segmenting data but you can start by using what you have. Although it requires more resources, the extra work to segment and analyze is worth the effort. The more personalized your content, the more you increase the success rate of your campaign – whether it’s email or landing pages. According to the survey Consumers’ Attitudes Toward Custom Content, 7 out of 10 customers appreciate customized content. This has a positive impact on perception and as a result, buying decisions. When you focus on audience personas and take a data-driven approach to adjust your marketing, you can deliver a more personalized experience that’s both affordable and effective.