Through tailored web experiences, Zebra Technologies reduced their website’s bounce rates by 45% and increased its form completion rates to 29% in just 24 months. In addition, this analytics, hardware, and software services company has met its lead generation, customer engagement, and customer retention goals. What does it attribute to its success? Personalized marketing for exceptional web experiences at every stage of the buyer’s journey, including content tailored to behavior, location, product interests, and other visitor attributes.
As a marketing veteran with almost 20 years of digital marketing experience, I was really struck by these numbers. I recently sat down with Zebra’s digital marketing and search engine optimization strategist, Jessica Silapaswang, to ask her about her company’s success. I wanted to hear her thoughts on what personalized marketing is, how it’s worked for Zebra, and the results it can garner for both B2C and B2B companies.
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Three strategies for personalized marketing
Zebra Technologies believes that personalized marketing should begin with a company’s website and extend across all channels. And it’s not alone. Ninety-nine percent of marketers agree that personalization helps advance customer relationships. Our research found that the majority of customers – 88% – expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives in 2021. Additionally, 52% of consumers and business buyers expect offers to always be personalized.
“Website personalization boils down to giving the right message to the right person at the right time,” Silapaswang said. “We serve all of our customers, partners, and prospects on our website. With personalization, we’re focused on how to deliver the information we think those people need given where they are on the website and why they’re there.”
Zebra created three distinct pillars for its personalized marketing strategy:
- Embedded experience modification
- Journey accelerating overlays
- Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered content recommendations
Zebra implemented all three personalization pillars to generate leads, boost engagement, and improve visitor retention. For example, by creating user segments from campaign tracking codes, it identified visitors’ industries, then created personalized video thumbnails for four key industries they support. Video views increased and reduced the campaign page’s bounce rate by 25%.
Here are the tactics the team used:
1. Embedded experience modification
This changes the website experience in real time without the visitor directly noticing it. Let’s say a visitor clicks on a display ad you’ve created using a campaign tracking code. When they arrive at the campaign landing page, its imagery changes depending on the visitor’s industry. This tactic led to a 25% reduction in bounce rates. A similar tactic with non-campaign related organic traffic visiting the website’s homepage showed a 45% reduction in bounce rates.
“You might be swapping images or copy on the page, but the end visitor isn’t thinking, ‘This is personalized in an outward way,’” Silapaswang said. “They’re just saying, ‘This now resonates with me more than it did before.’”
2. Journey accelerating overlays
This technique allows marketers to steer visitors to different parts of a website, such as full-screen takeovers or bottom banner notifications. If you know a prospect is interested in a specific product solution, for example, you could serve them a pop-up offering a free gated asset featuring a product success story. With this technique, Zebra was able to increase campaign leads 29% for a key industry.
3. AI-powered content
AI-powered content recommendations give visitors tailored suggestions for content or products. This has proven very effective for Zebra. Imagine you’re reading a blog post (like this one) and there’s suggested reading for related content. Scroll below and you’ll see what I mean.
“We’ve found that folks are much less likely to bounce and spend more time on the page with this type of personalized experience if you get their industry right,” Silapaswang explained.
Personalized marketing is data-first
As the web analytics lead at Zebra, Silapaswang is always thinking about data and its role in personalization. Leading with data in personalized marketing is vital, but it can be difficult to put into practice with a cookieless future on the horizon.
The good news, in Silapaswang’s eyes, is that B2B marketers often have more data than they realize. “Everyone who has a web analytics tool running on their website has data,” she said. “You might not have a customer’s email or name, but you might have where they’re located, what they’re doing, or what pages they’ve visited on your site. That’s all valuable data.”
One way to look at personalization, Silapaswang suggested, is to think of it like a pyramid. The bottom layer contains that behavioral data you’re getting from a web analytics tool, which calls for low-risk personalization. “I’m not able to say, ‘Hi, Katie, here’s an offer just for you,’” Silapaswang said. “But I am able to say, ‘Katie seems to be looking at a specific category of product or service here. Let me give her a little more of that.’”
The second pyramid tier is where marketers can use tools like identity resolution technologies to capture the names and sizes of prospect companies and get a little more specific with personalization efforts.
At the top of the pyramid is first-party data. At this level, marketers know exactly who their prospect is, and they can deliver highly personalized experiences accordingly.
“In B2B, if you have a login-only website, you have a lot more of this kind of data,” Silapaswang said. “If you have a brand site, you don’t always have that data. By using this pyramid framework, you can build your program and your data set with a crawl-walk-run approach. That’s what we’ve been doing at Zebra.”
Even if your data lake isn’t yet large enough to contain multiple customer attributes, there’s always something you can do with the data you have – including testing.
“Personalization technologies were born out of A/B testing,” Silapaswang pointed out. “I wouldn’t recommend swapping a homepage hero on day one. Wait until you know what you’re doing. But on day one, you can test the impact an image has on a certain stakeholder.”
Personalized marketing is scalable
Many B2B marketers target big audiences; some global. To scale real-time personalization efforts across multiple audiences and languages, Silapaswang recommended using imagery.
“We always see a substantial reduction in bounce rate for something as simple as swapping an image, so spend your time on the big visual changes to start. Don’t get hung up on modifying 25 things on a webpage and then seeing what worked,” she said. “You need to iterate on the experience, especially if you’re doing it for big audiences.”
Successful scaling can also hinge on your marketing team. Companies don’t need a large team to launch a successful personalized marketing program – Silapaswang sits on a team of three at Zebra. But you do need a well-structured team that fulfills key roles.
“You need someone to lead the program, and people to create the experiences. Sometimes those folks are the same people, and sometimes they’re not,” Silapaswang said. “You also need someone who has an in-depth view of the customer, partner, or prospect coming to the website. You’ll need individuals who are familiar with front-end development and your data, typically a data engineer or scientist.”
Above all, though, effective personalization relies on agile and resilient teammates who aren’t afraid to fail. “You’re going to get it wrong, and that’s OK,” Silapaswang said. “You need to make sure your team is filled with people who are excited, and not intimidated, by that.”
A strong web personalization program relies on consistent change. Zebra’s strides in personalized marketing are a testament to embracing a growth mindset when creating relevant web experiences.
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