The Power of Personalization at Scale for Marketers
When Elizabeth Grimes became Vice President of Marketing at Choice Insurance Agency, one of her first challenges involved digitizing, automating, and ultimately personalizing content for thousands of clients. That wasn’t an easy task given those clients had a wide variety of insurance needs met by the growing agency headquartered in Virginia with multiple offices. But after testing different forms of personalization across four different newsletters, Elizabeth saw some of her email open rates increase by up to 8 percent.
“Personalized content creates a deeper one-to-one connection,” Elizabeth told me. “It’s more impactful because it shows we’re listening and care to provide content that is relevant to that individual, versus a one-to-many approach. We believe that it is our role—to guide our clients to a solution that meets their needs and positions them to be the hero of their own story.”
Elizabeth isn’t alone. As independent insurance agencies have moved to digitize their companies and even compete sometimes with large direct-to-consumer carriers, they are moving quickly to implement personalization at scale in their B2C marketing efforts. Nationwide has been focused on offering support to these agencies through a variety of educational content, training programs, and best practices to help them accelerate their efforts.
We recently partnered with our own marketing technology team to implement a full scale B2B personalization engine that helps us tailor the experiences and content we are providing to our independent insurance agency partners like Choice Insurance Agency. While I have been involved with B2C personalization efforts in the past, automating our B2B marketing efforts has reinforced the importance of three key strategies:
Position your customer as the hero at every stage of their journey:
Within the intermediated side of insurance, that means putting the independent agent who sells our solutions first in everything we do. From prospecting and onboarding agents to helping them grow and run their business with us, we strive to tailor our messages and content to them at every stage of their journey. This can be a daunting task, so our team started with a communications architecture to serve as a roadmap. We looked at four primary segments of agents and their key objectives during each stage of their buying journey. We then mapped out our core messages, objectives, and metrics. Having clarity across the team around these basic elements allowed us to determine how, when, and where we wanted to introduce personalized nurture paths to enhance the agent experience and improve our effectiveness.
From prospecting and onboarding agents to helping them grow and run their business with us, we strive to tailor our messages and content to them at every stage of their journey
Keep your content timely, relevant, and actionable:
During focus group research we conducted with dozens of agents across the country, they reminded us to keep our content timely and relevant to both their interests and the needs of their clients. Specifically, agents said editorial or thought leadership content must remain applicable to what they’re working on or thinking about right now. That’s why we introduced Agency Forward SM, which offers timely, relevant expertise on key topics that are top of mind for our agent partners and their clients. We feed that expert editorial content into our automated, personalized nurture path journeys so we can connect with agents based on their actual interests— always keeping an eye toward helping them be successful with their clients.
Diversify and deepen your layers of personalization:
Elizabeth told me she receives up to 100 emails a day. Many of those come from vendors who try to solicit her on their solutions in a way that comes across as impersonal. And she’s not alone. We are all now conditioned as consumers to receive highly personalized communications; business buyers expect the same in their communications. That’s why it’s crucial for B2B marketers to diversify and deepen their layers of personalization at scale. Our marketing organization recently deployed an automated nurture path regarding a new agency rewards program with four different layers of personalization for thousands of agents. In less than 72 hours, we saw almost a 50 percent email open rate and a 16 percent click-through rate—far exceeding what we see in our industry. Hundreds of agents have now entered our rewards nurture path journey, which launched in tandem with personalized content on our agent-facing website.
While personalization at scale varies across industries, these three strategies will hold true for almost any B2B or B2C marketer. And while these efforts can get complicated, keeping your customer at the center of the story will keep you grounded.
“Lead with your customer’s needs in mind,” Elizabeth says. “That philosophy will ultimately provide warmer leads and help you close more sales.”