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The Importance of Personalization in B2B Ecommerce

For B2C businesses, marketing personalization is not a new approach.

The digital sphere is, after all, perfectly tailored to marketing to individuals with tools that gather and process personal data and learn from it to optimize the results.


Customers now expect recommendations with websites, emails, and content all personalized to their interests and needs, leading to stickier websites, and more email consumption and content engagement.

Yet in the B2B sector, there is still some hesitancy to adopting personalization, despite clear evidence of its utility. Salesforce found that 84% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Customers want companies to be aware of their buying habits and tailor their messaging accordingly - 54% indicate that they are annoyed when companies target them with content about something they’ve already purchased.

So, it’s time that B2B marketers take a serious look at personalization.

How Personalization Works

There is a lot to consider before you get started with your personalization strategy. Here is a quick run-down of the key factors you need to ensure your personalization plan is a success.

Data Acquisition

The first step to personalization is the collection of data. The more data you collect, the better. This can come from four sources:

Inbound traffic

There’s a lot of information you can determine about a prospect when they arrive on your website. This can include which page they landed on, what search term they used, and which website or email referred them. You should also be able to tell what device they are using, which city they are in, and perhaps even which company they work for.

Onsite behavior

You can learn a lot about prospects from their behavior on your website: what pages they pay more attention to, what searches they make, what path they take through your website, and which videos or other content they interact with. These are the activities that give you deeper insights into their true interests and intent.

Profile data

Profile data is all the historical information collected on a prospect who can be identified, usually by an email address. This data can come from a website registration or a referral from an email. From there, more data can be collected by tracking the prospect’s behavior to determine how far into the search funnel or sales funnel the prospect is in.

Integrated data

This covers data from external sources such as your CRM, contact center help system or ERP system where the prospect has a buyer profile.


An important part of your personalization strategy is segmentation, which will allow you to focus your resources on the target prospects who matter the most. Targets can be split by various criteria:

  • Industry vertical
  • Geography
  • Search funnel or sales funnel position
  • Job function
  • Account
  • Buyer or partner type

Segmentation will allow you to personalize messages, deliver relevant content, and track the results while executing nurturing campaigns.


It is not possible to target every segment at once, so you need to consider targets to prioritize. To do that, we use a simple strategic framework called PIE.


What is the revenue potential of the segment? More importantly, what is the cost-vs-benefit of targeting the segment?


How important is the segment to your business? Is it a core part of your business strategy?


What is the propensity of the segment to buy? How easy or difficult will it be to convert?

Types of Personalization

Personalization can take several forms that you may not be taking full advantage of. Here are some examples.

Targeted emails

With precise segmentation, marketers can create and send individualized emails based on business needs, buying behavior, position in the buying cycle, business size, geographic location, and a variety of other relevant criteria.

Custom page content

Visitors to your website can be delivered unique customized messages, images, and content depending on their industry, the company they work for, and their location.

For example, visitors from the manufacturing industry would see more heavy machinery and production line images compared to visitors from other industries. They might see the same content, but with language specific to the manufacturing sector.

Product recommendations

Using relevant personal data, this type of personalized marketing determines what kind of product, service, or special offer a prospect will receive via various channels. Deals can be tailored to suit the prospect accordingly.

Real-time pricing and inventory

A B2B buyer wants to see their price when they log in – whether that be contract pricing, dealer tiered pricing, a 20% discount on top of the base price … whatever it may be – they don’t want to log in and see what everyone else sees. They also don’t want to have to confirm pricing by calling into a customer service center. Pricing and inventory should be delivered online in real time or as close to real time as possible.


Personalization approaches

There are several different ways you can implement personalization in your ecommerce website. The level of personalization capability will vary based upon several factors including what ecommerce platform you are using, what functionality that platform provides out-of-the-box, or what integration you have with a digital experience platform, if any.

Rules-based personalization

Define the conditions under which content is delivered to a customer. For example, you can set rules based on the IP address or physical location of your visitors, the keywords they use to reach your site, their mobile device, or the goals that they achieve on your website to determine the content that is displayed.

Adaptive personalization

Use visitor profiles and pattern-card matching to dynamically adapt the content shown to visitors in real time.

Historical personalization

Build rules that personalize content based on a contact’s historical or past behavior, rather than their actions from the current session.

Result-oriented personalization

Use A/B and multivariate testing to assess your content and use the test results to optimize for conversion rates against your site’s goals. You can also use testing to assess which type of content works best with certain segments of your visitors.

Journey-based personalization

Design user journeys using advanced business logic and use them to help assess where your customers are in their journey with your brand. Then you can use triggers to advance them through their journeys in context of how far along they are.

Examples of B2B ecommerce personalization journeys

Consider these fictional, but realistic examples of how you can use personalization to improve the customer experience.

Lead from email

The marketer at computer equipment manufacturing company needs to generate more sales from large businesses. She integrates a database of purchasing agents that includes name, title, industry, and company name. She prioritizes the automotive industry because the sales team had good results with similar buyers.

Using her email platform, she can personalize each email with images tailored to the industry the target customer is in and with language specific to their industry. Since the target is in the automotive industry, the email would feature images of cars with the topic geared to an automotive manufacturing pain point.

When the prospect clicks to the website, the marketer can direct them to a customized landing page specifically written and designed for the automotive industry, with content blocks that feature special offers or products that are specifically designed for car manufacturers. The marketer can then track the behavior of the visitor and depending on what products the customer views or and search terms they enter, she can deliver personalized content suggestions to aid the visitor’s search journey.

Organic lead from search

Without any kind of profile data, what kind of personalization can be done? The marketer for a commercial transport company first creates a list of search keywords related to the florist industry because that’s an important segment for her company.

Using the personalization features, the ecommerce platform will automatically show any visitor arriving from a search term related to “flower delivery” or “florist” a personalized home page featuring a pre-generated banner featuring a satisfied florist. The website will also deliver recommended content in the form of a page offering preferential rates for floral deliveries. To get the deal, all the visitor has to do is enter his email address.

When the visitor leaves the website, the platform will trigger an interstitial banner reminding the visitor of the special deal. If he has entered his email address, he will automatically receive more details about the special features of the floral deliver service including special refrigerated storage services.

Lead from digital advertising

The marketer for a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment distributor has created an industry-segmented digital advertising campaign. Among the priority industries is the maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) industry because of its high revenue potential.

When a visitor lands on the website from a MRO-specific digital ad, the ecommerce platform will automatically show a customized homepage featuring items that HVAC professionals typically use when working at large apartment complexes.

Before the visitor leaves the website, the website will prompt the visitor to leave his email address to receive discounts on specially designed repair packages and regular tips on how to reduce costs by purchasing their supplies online.

Partner engagement

The marketer for an office supply manufacturer with an ecommerce site used by distributor partners is tasked to help improve the sales value of partners in cities across the country. How can she use profile data and personalization to help her?

When a partner visits the ecommerce site to place an order, the ecommerce platform will automatically access the ERP data to determine if the partner’s business is valuable and has potential to grow. If it does, the platform delivers personalized content with a special upsell deal designed to increase the volume of products the partner already buys.

If the visitor abandons the cart or does not take up the offer within a specific time, the integrated email system will send a follow-up email with information about competitor distributors in the same city who have recently taken up the special upsell deal to give the visitor added incentive to try it.