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Decisive success factor: personalization

One of the greatest strengths of digital marketing is its ability to address target groups in a targeted, contextualized and concrete way. Content and messages can be tailored and personalized using targeting as well as recognition of cookies or user IDs. This topic personalization is becoming increasingly relevant in the B2B environment, especially for Generation Y - those born between 1980 and 2000.

June 2018

Target Audience

Generation Y is generally a good example of what can be achieved through personalization and why it is an important cornerstone for a successful approach to prospects or an improved customer experience. A few common elements can be found in the results of numerous studies focused on the so-called millennials. For one, this generation values flexibility and freedom and wants to be able to determine and enjoy their own lives. As a result, millennials have high standards and do not want to spend a lot of time with purchase and service processes. They expect their specific needs to be addressed.

This means they appreciate and demand the advantages of tailored information and messages more than older target groups. Whether technology or a contact person responds to them personally is less of an issue. Media environments are also less important. The always-on target group wants their experience to remain unbroken as they switch between numerous devices. Service, purchase and communication processes should be convenient and as seamless as possible for them. They terminate long searches, configuration processes or procedures much faster than other target groups.

And Generation Y has an affinity for brands, but also expect brands to engage them. Of course, this is easier to accomplish if you know their tastes and interests. In marketing, this means they appreciate messages that are more specifically geared to their interests and situation. They are attracted to interactive entertaining marketing and use a variety of digital media and platforms, via which a uniform approach should be taken. The possibilities for this vary depending on exactly how much information is available about your own target group. Scenarios in which direct customer data or customer information cannot be used are to be distinguished from cases in which companies can act on knowledge of the relevant details.


No direct customer data

In cases where no concrete data is available, targeting can only be implemented according to certain criteria. These include data pertaining to affinities, gender, age group, region and their surroundings. This data is derived from Google, for example, based on previous user behaviour and visits to the site. Social networks such as Facebook provide good insight in this regard. In the B2B segment, business networks are used to specifically address users of specific industry fields, qualification levels and positions.

This provides good opportunities to address the target segment in a more targeted manner and with a greater focus on its interests. Marketing messages can thus directly address a topic or an application case that interests the user and is directly related to the advertised product or service. Tonality can be varied by age, background or region. For example, Facebook Dynamic Creative ads can be used to automatically assemble advertising material. A modular set serves as the basis for combining an introduction, copy text, visuals, call-to-action variants and various landing pages in such a way that the most successful advertising medium is created. Using Programmatic Advertising, these can be delivered automatically and compiled for the respective user. This includes optimization if success is measured by clicks and different versions are tested against each other. Following the first reliable data values, the better-performing version can then be used exclusively.

Examples of this are simple. For example, personalisation of advertising for a service such as rental car hire is popular. In this case, the car type and the descriptive language used could be controlled according to socio-demographic factors, the background picture could be selected according to the region the user is in (so that in Munich the car drives through Bavarian mountains, in Berlin however past the Brandenburg Gate), or according to weather conditions. Advertising for convertibles in persistently bad weather conditions is not destined for success.

Individualization based on customer data

It is clear that this is not yet truly individual. This can be much better if customer data is available. First-party data allows for more accurate tailoring and improved audience marketing.

The most obvious example of this are online shops. If a user is recognized via cookies - or even better - login data, then he or she can be addressed personally. Products and content of particular interest to this person can also be displayed. These can be derived from past customer behaviour. And from historical data pertaining to the next steps and products for other customers. The same applies to the search for information. If a user is interested in certain topics, they can be presented on a dynamic page. Or companies can offer suitable content and offers in advertising media.

Allocation can also be carried out using cookies. This makes it possible to recognize users even on other websites, so that suitable marketing messages can be displayed instead of more general ones. In e-commerce, everyone is familiar with retargeting banners - product advertising that is displayed on other sites because you are interested in the products but have not yet bought them. This illustrates the dynamics made possible by intelligent planning. This can be used analogously for content, offers or events.
With concrete data, marketers can also use reach marketers, i.e. companies that market advertising space to advertising customers, to search for statistical twins on Google or in social networks. These are other users whose profile criteria match those of their own target group, so that they can be addressed similarly. Limiting factors here include the data. Which data is available and how accurate and up-to-date is it? Other factors include the extent to which the target group can be localized along their customer journey and the ability to implement uniform fully planned communication in a multi-touchpoint world.

Successful B2B targeting using audiences

Data availability and quality poses a challenge, especially when it comes to B2B targeting. The data available to date only works to a limited extent in this regard, because socio-demographic features, for example, are not a good criteria for managing certain sectors and their specific interests. If, on the other hand, there are clearly defined audiences, i.e. a verifiably relevant audience for the respective topic, targeting can also work here. Where does this special audience data come from? It could include user data from specialist sites or industry events. Users are identified here, for example, using cookies and can then be addressed in a targeted manner. Trade fair organisers can also gain these audiences based on specific customer and visitor data at various touchpoints such as registration for an event, apps or event pages.

With a view to the career development of Generation Y - and the next Generation Z - one thing is clear: personalisation of communication and offers will become even more important in the future. This is especially true in the B2B domain.


  • Digital Marketing
  • Digital Trends