Survey: 80% of B2B marketers stick with manual approaches to personalization

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A large majority of B2B marketers are relying on manually personalizing calls and e-mail messages and other content to nurture leads, according to a survey conducted by Bop Design.

Bop Design, which is based in San Diego, did not reveal the sample size of its study, The State of B2B Lead Generation In 2018, but said the survey field questions to its clients, prospects and other brands that aren’t affiliated with the company. Nearly half, or 48 per cent said lack of time was their biggest lead generation challenge, while 80 per cent said they try to make the most of their leads by personalizing calls and e-mail messages.

“It’s interesting to see this especially as the marketing community, by and large, professes that everyone is working to automate lead generation,” Jeremy Durant, principal and co-founder of Bop Design, said in a statement accompanying the release of the research data. “While marketing automation for personalization seems to work well for B2C marketing strategies, it’s not as effective for B2B marketing.”

The manual nature of lead nurturing may be influenced by the fact 80 per cent also told Bop Design that word of mouth as their No. 1 source of leads and referrals. If someone is personally recommending a client, for instance, it may make sense that brands would shy away from responding or following up in an automated way, despite the claims by many vendors they are able to personalize content like e-mail at scale.

There were similar findings to what Bop Design uncovered in the 2018 Trends In Personalization Survey Report, which was conducted by Evergage with Research International based on responses from 300 people. Within the subset of B2B respondents, 80 per cent said they looked at e-mail as a key channel for personalization, more than any other group. At the same time, however, 58 per cent of B2B companies and 60 percent of “hybrid” firms who sell to both the enterprise and consumers said they didn’t have enough data to effectively personalize their marketing efforts. Only 39 per cent of B2C firms said the same thing.

As they get better at collecting and manage the data they need, B2B marketers indicated to Evergage they are interested in taking greater advantage of technology, though perhaps tools that go beyond what’s currently offered via marketing automation. For instance, 26 per cent of B2B firms said they plan on exploring machine learning in the next year, and among hybrid firms the interest was even higher, at 49 per cent.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.