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Most B2B leaders say their organizations have already gone through a digital transformation. As such, budgets are tight and customer needs have also narrowed during the Covid-19 outbreak. According to research in Episerver’s recent B2B Digital Experience Report, “businesses need to strongly consider what customers need to get done now and how their already strong initiatives can help them get it done more efficiently today. Overall, B2B organizations say they most differentiate themselves through their online digital experience.” 

Covid-19 has re-affirmed the need for a well-formed digital experience that meets customers when and where they are. It’s clear that the effects of this pandemic will be felt well past a single business quarter. Businesses will not be able to immediately increase spend on software, travel, events, and other projects that were likely slowed down or stopped in order to shore up and mitigate liquidity, solvency, and other risks. Events and other key business development opportunities are off the table for the near and foreseeable future. Even then, they’ll be different past the unknown end of Covid-19 out of either abundance of caution or continued budgetary restraints. 

The standard for strong digital experiences varies by industry. According to Episerver’s recent B2B Digital Experience Report, across industries and departments, 46 percent of B2B leaders think they get a better experience because of personalization. In addition, 42 percent think a company cares about their experience when a website personalizes content based on their history, behaviors and personal information. How a company utilizes personalization can have a vast impact on their overall digital experience and their engagement with customers. 

Pace is everything 

Most of us have likely felt the challenge of organizational changes that Covid-19 fostered. Whether it was hiring freezes, layoffs, roles changing, or other discretionary spending being halted – everything is under intense scrutiny and cost-structures are under considerable re-evaluation. Fluid and agile methods for strategic communication have become the new norm over the last several weeks. Companies need to respond quickly to make announcements regarding Covid-19 and, just as importantly, counter “disinformation as it occurs.” 

93% of B2B leaders say personalizing content on their website has increased their company’s revenue. The sudden shift to digital for nearly all marketing activities has increased the inventory of content, messages, webinars, digital events, articles and so on. It will undoubtedly continue to grow as companies work to fill the event-marketing gap 

Unfortunately, maintenance of many personalization tools requires intense effort as they can be cumbersome to manage. Tools that leverage Artificial Intelligence integrate with marketing automation, CRM, and CMS to work across channels. Automating personalized content decreases the need for internal resources to spend vast amounts of time tagging content, setting up manual rules, and requires very little training, if any.  

Not all personalization is created equal 

Using account-based marketing (ABM) to drive engagement and personalize within target accounts and current customers will certainly be important to develop new revenue. However, as workforces are still remote and likely to be for some time, the programmatic versions of ABM aren’t going to cut it alone, nor will many technologies that run ABM on websites. The technology that enables these types of ABM execution is a reverse-IP capability that is “able to map the IP address of a visitor (which every visitor has) to a specific company.” However, home based internet providers map to the internet service provider, not the employers of the at-home workforce. This doesn’t necessarily mean target accounts won’t still be visiting your website. That said, it is more likely you won’t be able to map visitors to a company and, thus, serve them a personalized experience and drive critical engagement with your content. 

Adding a first-party personalization tool to your website will help you preserve strong brand perception and mitigate decreased engagement. First-party tools deliver content at the individual level rather than leaning on data provided by a third party. Delivering content that’s personalized at a 1:1 level in real-time increases coverage across site visitors. Technologies like this remain “viable during this time as it operates on a completely different approach from the ground up. We don’t say this to capitalize on extreme circumstances but rather to give a real solution to a real-world problem.” 

Make your content work smarter for you 

With limited or depleted resources, how do you continue to refine personalization and scale up when it seems so many things are scaling down or remaining static? 

Deloitte’s Global State of AI in the Enterprise, 2nd Edition found that adopters of tools with Artificial Intelligence saw them as critically important and 80 percent indicated that their AI investments had driven ROIs of 10 percent or more. Enterprise companies are increasingly using AI for personalization and one of its primary benefits is “optimizing internal business operations.” 

This optimization can mean many things. Adding a first-party personalization tool to your website may be a way to solve the efficiency required to handle the increased inventory of content as well as the resources needed to deliver it. It can be used to automatically index, analyze, and categorize your content, removing the need to perform manual content audits. 

AI can also be used to better understand the content you’re creating and how your customers are responding to it in real time. This allows marketers to focus on topics that customers are interested in and gives them the ability to spend time addressing content gaps. When you leave it to a personalization tool to serve content to visitors at the individual level, content recirculation and average interactions per visitor increase that much more. 

Content is data. Insights from machine-learning personalization dashboards get you closer to your customers. They tell you powerful insights about your customers’ interests, behavior and content preferences. Plus, they help you identify who has the highest propensity to buy and when.   

The only thing that’s certain is uncertainty 

Covid-19 has demonstrably changed the consumer landscape. Even though businesses and economies are beginning to re-open, what lies ahead is uncertain. What’s clear is that businesses that do not adapt to changing customer expectations for digital experiences will fall behind. Agility and efficiency are crucial drivers to maximize engagement and convert or expand revenue opportunities. Now is the time to shy away from hypotheses and lean into data-led decisions made possible by technologies like personalization. Content inventories are growing and the time they take to create shouldn’t have been in vain. It’s time to start treating your content as one of your most valuable data sets.  Relevant content is more important than ever to engage and inform. If you need help determining which content is meeting the needs of your audience, check out our free Content Diagnostics offer. 

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