B2B Marketers Say Personalization is Harder for Them Than for B2C. Are They Right?

April 1, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Business of Marketing | Customer-Centric | Data-driven | Featured | Industries | Marketing Budgets | Personalization

Folloze B2B Personalization Harder Than B2C Apr2020Personalization remains a strategy that most B2B marketers are interested in pursuing this year. But for many, the simple fact is that personalization is a challenge. A new survey of more than 200 B2B sales and marketing professionals conducted by Folloze reveals that more than half (54%) believe that it’s harder to get personalization right in B2B than in B2C.

Although B2B marketers do understand the importance of personalization, the research suggests that many aren’t practicing it as much they could. Indeed, two-fifths (42%) of those surveyed report that their marketing efforts are not fully personalized. Moreover, 39% say their current personalized marketing strategy is only somewhat sophisticated, with 15% saying their personalization strategy is not sophisticated at all.

So, why do B2B sales and marketers think that their B2C counterparts have it easier when it comes to personalization? We’ve taken findings from the Folloze study along with research previously featured on MarketingCharts to look at this in a little bit more detail and see whether there is merit in these gripes.

Challenges with Experience and Reach

Other data has shown that the majority of B2B buyers not only want sales materials to be personalized, they expect it. Folloze’s survey also finds that more than three-quarters (77%) of respondents feel that personalization creates a better customer relationship.

Building high-quality relationships with customers can be considered a critical component of customer experience. Separate research by Dun & Bradstreet supports this, having found that close to 9 in 10 (87%) of B2B marketers felt they needed to be just as focused on customer experience as B2C organizations and extend that experience across channels.

But before personalization or customer experience can have an impact, marketers need to first reach their prospects. About half (51%) of respondents in the Folloze study say they feel it’s easier for B2C to get personalization right because it’s less complicated for B2C marketers to reach potential customers. Given the importance of face-to-face meetings and knowledgeable sales reps in B2B marketing, personalization in the buyer journey takes forms other than just dynamic content.

Challenges with Data

Another complaint cited by the respondents is that B2C marketers have better data (37%).

In some respects, B2B marketers do have it harder given the complex nature of enterprise sales. According to Arm Treasure Data, the top barrier is that data is siloed and difficult to access. Given that a fair share of B2B organizations don’t even have CRM or a marketing automation platform to centralize their data, this could have some merit.

But major B2C advertisers have arguably even bigger challenges. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents to a Blockgraph study reported being concerned about the accuracy of their third-party data, while a little more than half (54%) were concerned about how and where the data is sourced.

In this context, it’s easy to see that personalization can be a challenge for both B2C and B2B marketers.

Challenges with Budgets

Three in 10 of those surveyed by Folloze also claim that B2C marketers have it easier on the personalization front because they have better budgets. Here the data is mixed: data from the CMO Survey indicates that marketing budgets make up about one-tenth of firm-wide budgets for B2B product (10.4%) and service (9.9%) companies, slightly higher than for B2C services companies (8.4%) but far lower than for B2C product (20%) companies.

Similarly, B2B companies have a higher share of their firm revenues allocated to marketing expenses than do B2C services companies, but a smaller share than B2C product companies.

A lack of budget is a common complaint from marketers of all kinds, but, in some areas, B2B marketers get more bang for their buck. Indeed, data from the Content Marketing Institute suggests that B2C marketers aren’t achieving the same level of success through content. So even with larger budgets, they might not be as effective.

Indeed, one reason for the success of account-based content is that it is personalized to an entire business, not just an individual. Perhaps that makes personalization here a bit easier.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 205 B2B sales and marketing professionals.

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