Offering a truly-personalised experience to customers is the holy-grail of online marketing. Although often associated with B2C markets, its popularity and benefit is also growing across B2B markets. It’s easy to see why; since it enables businesses to predict what will meet their customer’s needs and respond in real time, bringing a predicted sales increase of 56%.

The top channel for collecting data, used by 40% of B2B and B2C marketers, is company websites. This means the key to personalisation relies upon your ability to recognise exactly who is looking at your website. As a marketer, it can be difficult to know where to start with personalisation. Fortunately, the Sitecore Experience Platform makes it easy to tailor every experience based on current and past interactions with your brand, in real time, wherever the customer is.

Instead of waiting for website visitors to contact you, the Sitecore Experience Platform uses explicit and implicit methods of visitor recognition, to understand where your customers are coming from – and what their intentions are. But how exactly does this work, and how can your business use visitor recognition to turn website visitors into sales leads?

Explicit recognition

Explicit recognition is Sitecore’s best and most accurate way of identifying your customer. Simply, it involves asking each person on your website a string of questions such as age, sex, marital status and interests to establish base level data. This is often done through a registration or social sign-in process to access a website, which means businesses know who is on their website from the minute they log in. The Sitecore Experience Platform uses this data to personalise the content displayed to each individual customer.

Danone Nutricia offers a great example of personalisation using explicit recognition. Their CRM is connected not just to their website, but to shop kiosks, and even street vending machines. By tying together their omnichannel touch points, Danone Nutricia brings massive value to explicitly-recognised visitors, offering them useful and relevant content just when they’re most receptive to it. What they’ve found is that when explicit value is available to the customer, they want to be recognised.

The downside: Understandably, people generally don’t give up their personal information for free nowadays. Getting explicit data from a customer usually relies on building a relationship with them, or providing either a valuable offer or a service that is visibly improved when they provide their data.

Implicit recognition

Implicit recognition is used when marketers have absolutely no information on a visitor when they arrive on the website. It refers to assumptions or learnings made about the customer, based upon their actions on your website. Simply, by following a visitor as they click around your website, you can begin to build assumptions about what content might pique their interest most, using this to personalise their experience.

The Sitecore Experience Platform enables implicit recognition by tagging content against specified persona or groups. Let’s say, for example, that a customer visits your company website, and pauses on your service offerings or case studies page. It may be fair to assume that they are interested in hearing more about your company.  Sitecore might push a call to action to get in touch with higher success that another customer scrolling through your blog page.

The more someone clicks around your website, the more accurate your prediction of their profile becomes. And, of course, providing they don’t delete their cookies, you can improve on this information each time they return to your site.

The downside: Getting your data to a point that the customer is categorised well enough to push personalised content typically requires your visitor to spend several minutes on your website, meaning that you might need to wait until the next time they interact to gather valuable insight.

Hybrid recognition

Many marketers using the Sitecore Experience Platform make use of both explicit and implicit recognition. By using a combination of the two, marketers can ask for a minimal, non-intrusive amount of base data from their customers (for example: their name and email address), usually in return for some sort of incentive (such as a discount code or competition entry).

A basic layer of information means that the platform knows who is on their website from the moment they visit – but requires little time and cost input to relationship building. This enables some immediate personalisation. Implicit recognition matches content based on customer website activity, so that customer profiles improve with every visit.

The downside: Although hybrid recognition is stronger than the individual power of either explicit or implicit recognition, recognising your customer still requires a few minutes of website activity, the use of website logins and the preservation of website cookies to improve each visitor profile.

What’s next?

What if there was a way to understand who your visitors are, the services they’re interested in and to collect accurate contact information for your sales teams, without relying on your customer visiting your website more than once?

Some companies are helping marketers get true value out of their Sitecore investment using IP-lookup technology. IP-lookup enables marketers to quickly and simply see exactly who has been on their website (and how to contact them), without having to ask them explicitly, build a relationship or provide them with a service.

Lead-generation tool, Lead Forensics, offers one of the most accurate and highly-detailed customer databases in Europe. Their IP-lookup provides not only geographical data such as country and city – but can even pinpoint specific companies and in some cases, departments – making it possible to make some immediate assumptions about who they are.

Couple this with the personalisation capabilities of the Sitecore Experience Platform, and marketers can begin to provide an immediate and detailed level of personalisation. More than displaying a different call-to-action, B2B businesses could use this to customise their basic business offerings, bearing in mind the industry of each visitor. This means that each pipeline would be filled with engaged customers. And, by passing on any lead contact details to sales teams, businesses can begin to derive real value from each website visitor, with a seamless sales and marketing function.

Want to know more?

We’ve been working on an integration between Lead Forensics and the Sitecore Experience Platform, to help businesses deliver truly personalised experiences to their website visitors, and help sales teams become more effective.

On Wednesday 26th April, we’re opening our London offices to anyone that would like to learn more about our Lead Forensics and Sitecore integration, and the value it could bring to their website.

If you’d like to attend, please follow this link.

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