Marketing automation and personalisation are two of the biggest trends in business-to-business communication. At a glance, they might appear very similar, but the two approaches encompass completely different tactics and methods. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but which is right for you?
A sales team would argue that personalisation is the best approach. The process of personalising your campaigns can take many forms, but essential it encompasses any effort made to align your actions to an individual’s prospects, characteristics or needs. The idea being that in making your email personalised to the customer you are investing in and building a long-term relationship with them. With research suggesting it can be up to 25% more expensive to acquire a new customer, rather than retaining an existing one, it’s easy to see why it’s important to value and maintain long-term customer relationships.
Sales teams are always in favour of personalising an email because they generally only get one chance to be in front of a prospect. With this limitation, it is important their messaging appears personalised and relevant to the specific needs of that customer. It can also build recognition between the customer and your brand, making you stand out from the crowd. Personalisation does however have its drawbacks. It can be an expensive route, with the need to collect personalised data from all your potential customers and having a reactive team who can change materials quickly based on the customer’s needs. Within B2B marketing, businesses are very much aware of the technology available to allow mass-sent emails to look personalised, meaning your personalisation efforts might still be in vain.
Marketing automation encompasses a large range of marketing practises that can be executed and optimised with automation, these include data gathering, lead generating, email marketing, social media and more. Marketing teams are more in favour of an automated approach as it allows them to reach a vast number of people quickly and efficiently. As you know marketing is at times a numbers game, you’ll have to kiss 10 frogs before you find your prince and automation allows marketing teams to do this. Automation not only plays a key role in outbound marketing but can also be effectively used within an inbound lead generation strategy. For example, to personally reply to every enquiry you have may be fine if you get 10 enquiries in a month, but what happens when you’re getting 50 in a week? Automating your replies to inbound messaging will help you direct your customer enquiries and allow you to use your time more effectively.
So, automation or personalisation, which is the correct approach?
The answer is a mixture of both. The two approaches can be utilised in tandem with a number of intersections within a sales and marketing journey. If a sales team can segment their prospect data into small enough groups, matching up the pain points for each customer, then marketing is able to target these smaller groups with personalised messages.
Many of the services or platforms’ marketers use for automating content allow personalisation. There are however two important things that are critical when personalising content. The first of these is the data you use. If you want to address your recipients by their first names, then you need to have the correct first names in your database beforehand. Personalisation however goes beyond just the first names on an email, it can include the contents of an email or social media messages that change from user to user. That is why the second thing needed is meticulous planning and configuring of automated campaigns, ensuring the content differs from person to person.