Relevancy Beats Personalisation for B2B Outreach and Marketing

Relevancy Beats Personalisation for B2B Outreach and Marketing

Talk of personalisation has become ubiquitous in the sales and marketing industries, but it can mean different things to different organisations. For some, it’s a simple case of collecting customer data and using it in outbound communications, whilst for others it’s a much more complex matrix making use of many data points and heavy automation. But even the best personalisation doesn’t always offer the high levels of engagement outreach professionals expect.

In this article, learn how relevancy differs from personalisation, and learn how sales and marketing professionals can design go-to-market strategies which focus on relevancy for greater success. We’ll consider the type of data that underpins relevancy-based communications, how sales and marketing leaders can acquire it, and how they can detect signals which enable highly relevant campaigns.

Relevancy Vs Personalisation: What’s the Difference?

The key point is that a message can be highly relevant without being personalised. For instance, a local newspaper is not personalised to the individual reader at all, yet the content is likely to be highly relevant because it relates to their local area. 

Business examples of this might include service updates, product updates and industry newsletters. Messages like these can certainly be made more engaging, and in some cases more relevant by personalising them (adding names, tailoring content to locations and many more permutations), but the majority of their engagement is achieved because the core content is applicable and pertinent in its base form.

Top Tip

Importantly, in B2B marketing, when a company doesn’t have explicit consent to process a business users’ data, one of the primary bases for remaining compliant under the EU or UK GDPR is that of “Legitimate Interest” - which will be hard to justify, if a marketer can’t say with reasonable certainty that the communication they are sending will be relevant to the recipient in their professional capacity.

Whilst it could certainly be argued that the act of distributing in a specific area, or sending a message to a certain cohort is a form of personalisation, to make such an argument misses the point; Relevance is the goal - personalisation can be used to increase relevance (sometimes dramatically), but should not be the startpoint for content development. 

The Underpinnings of Relevance

So what makes a marketing message relevant? The answer appears to be quite simple; it needs to serve the recipient’s needs and interests - but how can sales and marketing professionals actually ascertain customers’ and prospects’ needs and interests? Fortunately, the answers to that question are many and varied: 

Leverage Personal Relationships

Whether it’s telemarketing or inside sales agents, field sales reps, or business account managers, the most comprehensive way to find out what a prospect or customer needs is to ask them. B2B sellers are adept at conducting probing conversations with customers, eliciting needs and pain points, being aware of industry news, and identifying buyer interests, opportunities, and more. 

Mine 1st Party Data

From CRM systems to data management platforms (DMPs), modern organisations make use of technology to gather and store information about clients and prospects (1st party data) - but many fail to maximise these assets, particularly when it comes to mining them for insights. Successful businesses analyse the data they already have - everything from demographic data, to buying patterns and product or service usage data, conversation notes, and more - using these insights to infer needs, segment their audiences, and enable highly relevant messaging.

Acquire Premium 3rd Party Data

Working with trusted, compliant data providers not only provides access to new prospects, but often to enhanced datasets with additional demographic and profile information. Such data often contains attributes which can explicitly highlight needs (such as responsibility for business areas like IT or transport) or can be analysed for trends which can be used to infer relevance.

Data partners routinely provide augmentation services, to add additional data to your existing records, with some even offering premium monitoring services which can expose real-time relevancy opportunities, such as investment news, staff changes, and more.

Market Knowledge and Research

Lastly, if you’re struggling to work out what’s important to your audience, there are two formidable tools at your disposal;

  1. 1. Your organisation’s own knowledge

    The market knowledge of staff who come into contact with customers and prospects is a vastly underutilised business asset. A disciplined approach to employee listening (particularly sales people and tactical marketers) can surface customer needs and interests quickly and cost-effectively.

  2. 2. Market research

    For product development and message optimisation, market research is an essential component of any sales and marketing leader’s toolkit. Whether it’s simple surveys, or detailed customer interviews, focus groups, or online panels, research can yield surprising insights, which can give your messaging an edge over competitors.

Data Points to Support Relevance

Once you’ve ascertained what constitutes relevant information for your audience, consider what data points you can use to enable segmentation and content targeting.

Personal Data

  • Behavioural Information such as product use, what content readers consume, and other signals can all be used to infer needs and deliver relevant messaging.
  • Role & seniority is likely to dictate a recipient's interests, influencing factors such as their need for tactical (junior) vs strategic (senior) content, to support their role in a buying process.
  • Location may dictate which messages recipients receive - for example, only promoting in-person events to prospects. Location may also have a bearing on whether certain products and services comply with local laws, or address certain markets.

Business Demographic Data

  • Company footprint information, such as the number of employees or how many locations they operate from can help you understand a prospect’s organisation and tailor your content and products accordingly.
  • Organisation type varies significantly depending on your own needs, but categorising organisations into types specific to your own use cases is often advantageous - examples might include whether they’re private or public sector, what industry they operate in, or whether their customers are consumers, or other businesses.

Industry-Specific Business Data

As we’ve already discussed, what constitutes relevant industry-specific business data can vary considerably between industries, buyer roles and more - but some examples include;

  • Financial year start and end dates can influence budget availability, busy periods of the year, or supplier decisions.
  • Sub-industry or niche information are often the difference between generic and highly relevant communication - tyre manufacturers and car manufacturers are both in the automotive industry, but often need different content and a different sales approach.
  • News monitoring such as industry news events, upsizing or downsizing, product launches, and more

Prioritise Relevance in Your Strategic Go-to-Market Plan

Using the insights and data you’ve gathered so far, you can design a B2B go-to-market (GTM) plan that engages customers and prospects effectively by addressing their needs and interests. 

Such a plan might include content creation, sales sequences and sales training, call scripts or guidance, advertising, and outbound messaging - particularly email marketing or direct mail. It might even involve changing your products and services to better suit your customers.

Sales and marketing leaders should be prepared to allocate ongoing time, budget and resources to keeping the insights and the data that support relevance up-to-date.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Finally, a high degree of relevancy is not a substitute for good quality content, or knowledgable and adaptive sales people - effective campaigns need both. 

B2B buyers are bombarded with marketing messages every day. They're constantly being pitched new products and services, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for them to identify relevant messages. 

With that in mind, content must demonstrate relevance from the first word - so, it’s more important than ever to move well beyond surface-level personalisation. Content that relies on regurgitating prospects’ name, job title, and more as its core component is inadequate.

Instead, by demonstrating relevance at every opportunity, content creators can show customers and prospects that they understand their pain points and have solutions that can help. In turn, they're much more likely to see your business as one which understands the market and stands out from competitors.

Ready to put relevancy at the heart of your B2B outreach and marketing?

For high quality B2B data to enable relevance in your sales outreach and marketing campaigns, get in touch with Corpdata today. 

Our carefully curated data, underpinned by ongoing research has the datapoints you need to deliver closely targeted messages and enable highly-effective sales activity.

To find out more, call one of our experts on +44 (0)1626 777 400 or visit

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