B2B personalisation needs to ‘behave’

Creating effective b2b marketing personalisation strategies based on market needs and behaviours

What is marketing personalisation?

Simply, personalisation in marketing is using data collected about a target audience to tailor content, products and services specifically to them. The quantity and richness of data collected determines the extent of the personalisation.

marketing personalisation

Personalisation in marketing has clear business benefits

Appetite for this marketing personalisation is still strong today. In the Gartner 2018 State of Personalisation Survey 21, 87% of surveyed marketing leaders said that their organisation is pursuing personalisation. This is due to the clear business benefits associated with personalisation; reaching the right person with the right message through the right channel at the right time. The Harvard Business Review2 states that personalisation can lift revenues by 5-15% and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by up to 10-40%.

Various studies3 have shown that there is an increasing gap between customer expectations and the ability of b2b organisations to meet them. For example, 98% of consumers have chosen not to complete a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect content pushed to them.

Over-focusing on demographics means b2b personalisation isn’t as effective as it could be

Thinking of marketing personalisation solely as a marketing activity is the main reason organisations are not fulfilling their potential. Despite investment in customer data, predictive analytics, and marketing cloud solutions4, marketers forget the role primary market research plays in creating an effective personalisation strategy, through the understanding of needs and behaviour.

Personalisation in b2b marketing can be broken down into three categories4 that affect broad and large-scale marketing activities:

  • Segment-specific – personalised by demographics (such as industry, organisation size, age & job titles etc.)
  • Persona-specific – personalised for specific buyer types
  • Stage-specific – personalised for a stage of the buying process

When asked about the effectiveness of types of personalisation approaches used, three out of four b2b organisations4 stated that segment-specific personalisation is very poor, poor or neutral. However, despite the poor returns the majority of b2b organisations employ this ineffective approach to personalisation5.

There is a need to capture more behavioural information around needs throughout the buyer or customer journey. Stage and persona – specific approaches to personalisation are more likely to be rated well and very well in terms of effectiveness4. Yet only a third of b2b organisations utilise behavioural and persona-specific information into personalisation strategies and only a quarter personalise information across the customers and prospects position in the customer and buyer journey5.

B2c organisation on the other hand have invested more heavily into research for their personalisation efforts. When marketers were asked about the data and insights they have available for personalisation, 61% of b2c companies thought they had sufficient information compared to only 52% of b2b organisations.5 This under-utilisation of buyer persona and stage-specific information presents strong opportunities for b2b organisations to better meet individual customer needs and capture a competitive advantage.


Further Reading
7 Tips For Creating Personae & Embedding Them In Your Organization
7 Tips For Creating Personae & Embedding Them In Your Organization


B2b marketers value personalisation but are not supported by the wider organisation

Marketers are not overly satisfied with their performance when it comes to personalisation; only 12% were very or extremely satisfied with their performance5.

The main reasons driving this dissatisfaction were identified in a following open ended question and can be grouped into three key themes: lacking information to connect with customers on a personal level, lacking dedicated personalisation roles and a lack of investment. When further considering investment and spend on marketing personalisation, b2c are outspending b2b. 53% of b2c organisation expected their personalisation budget to increase throughout his year, compared to only 25% of b2b organisation5.

As a result of this lack of organisational support, b2b marketers feel that they are ‘’barely scratching the surface of what could and should be done’’5.

mobile payment personalisation

More investment and primary research is needed if b2b is to catch-up with b2c

The benefits of a marketing personalisation strategy are clear, and the majority of organisations are pursuing some form of marketing personalisation. However, these efforts are focusing on demographic data and not on customer or prospect needs and behaviours. The lack of organisational support and investment in primary market research to collect needs and behavioural information will hinder the effectiveness of b2b marketing personalisation.

Four types of primary market research will aid a b2b organisation with its marketing personalisation strategy:

Or contact a b2b expert for a discussion on how we can help.


  1. Gartner (2019), Maximise the Impact of Personalization
  2. Digital Marketing Magazine (2017), How Important is Personalisation for Content Marketing?
  3. Business 2 Community (2017), 10 Surprising Stats About Personalization
  4. Neil Patel (2019), B2B and Content Personalization: Where We Are, Where We’re Heading
  5. Evergage, Inc. (2018), 2018 Trends in Personalization
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