As business-to-business (B2B) marketers, we face the challenge of finding an effective way to maintain customer relationships. After all, B2B transactions are costly and complex, which can make it difficult to attract new customers. However, maintaining existing relationships is critical if you want your business to succeed.

Keys to Success for B2B Relationships
Keys to Success for B2B Relationships

What factors contribute to successful engagement for long lasting B2B relationships? Our research suggests that personalization is closely tied with relationship success. The following are insights from our study on what drives long term business value between companies and their customers:

Insight Study to Drive a Long-Term Business

  • 80% of companies expect greater return on investment from personalized offers made by marketing across multiple channels.
  • More than eight out of 10 stated that their organization is able to measure the success of their personalized campaigns.
  • More than two-thirds (69%) said that they plan to increase their investment in marketing technology during 2012.
  • Those more likely to have a holistic view on marketing were three times as likely to report an improvement in long-term customer relationships.

Personalization drives sustainable, profitable growth by increasing engagement and improving feedback loops between marketers and customers through a variety of channels both online and offline. This closes the gap between companies and their customers, allowing organizations to communicate with individuals based on more detailed information about them, such as location, role within the organization, demographics, behavior data from previous transactions or interactions—and even intent or sentiment derived from contextual clues beyond what was explicitly stated.

What makes personalized engagement successful?

It’s not just about having access to more information. Personalized marketing that works is based on trusted relationships between companies and their customers.

These types of messages are critical to engage with your audience for long term business value. They focus on the individual, which acknowledges that they’re not just a number or statistics in a report, but an actual person behind those numbers. People want to feel special and important, so messages like this one can really resonate with them and should be used as inspiration when creating messages for other B2B audiences.

For example, one of our clients has a long-standing relationship with its customers. The company reaches out to their customers annually with messages that are specifically tailored to each customer’s industry and location. This personalization helps to create deeper relationships with clients, improve retention rates and generate more revenue for the company.

These types of personalized messages do so much more than just catch the recipient’s eye—they drive engagement through relevant offers that speak directly to an individual’s interests. They’re relevant, timely and relevant because they’re relevant.

How to Gain Companies Trust?

Companies can also gain trust by being transparent about how they gather customer information, no matter where that data comes from—social networks, loyalty programs or other interactions between brand and consumer. Take advantage of technologies like social media, interactive voice response (IVR) and text messaging that can help you reach customers in real time with personalized messages.

Engaging B2B audiences in this way is clearly worth the effort. Personalizing marketing programs has a direct impact on revenue generation by generating an average of 23% more revenue for organizations, according to IBM research commissioned by Eloqua.

The findings are based on analysis of data from 2,700 companies worldwide during 2009-2010 across 11 industries including banking/financial services, business services, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, industrial goods & services, insurance, media & entertainment, retail & consumer packaged goods, technology hardware & equipment, transportation & logistics and travel/hospitality. The results were then validated by surveys of hundreds of marketing professionals worldwide.

Future research by IBM and Eloqua will examine customer experience management, personalization, campaign effectiveness and other topics relevant to the fields of marketing and information management.

Previous studies have also shown that personalized messages work better. A 2011 study from OVUM found that messages which were more personalized in tone worked 18% better than those without. It’s not just about words but also how you say them: make sure your messaging is in line with the recipient’s role (e.g., C-level executives prefer a more formal tone when it comes to messages) or industry (e.g., insurance companies wanting to upsell clients when they renew their policies). However, be careful when adapting your messages for different audiences: a survey by MSL Group found that only 29% of B2B marketers use buyer persona tools to deliver personalized messaging and 51% felt their organization would benefit from them.

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