Personalized cookies with frosting and names inscribed on them.
PHOTO: mcniesch

When you think of personalization and privacy, the two seem to clash. You need information to deliver real personalization, but stringent privacy laws have restricted what used to be relatively carte blanche access to information.

However, it turns out the two are more intertwined than you might think.

Here’s a look at where the B2B industry stands in terms of privacy and personalization, how the two relate to one another — and what it all means for marketers and sellers today. 

Privacy Changes Have Forced Greater Personalization

Changing privacy laws have limited businesses’ ability to collect as much data as they want and then do whatever they want with it. Instead of this having a negative effect on personalization, it’s actually bringing about something positive: customer experience leaders have no choice but to truly understand who they're talking to.

Since buying lists and paying for data are no longer viable options, their emphasis has to be placed on first-party data and inference-based data instead. 

Solutions like Demandbase and 6Sense provide inference-based data, which helps organizations figure out more information about someone at the account level rather than the individual level. This allows you to adhere to privacy guidelines, while still having enough information to be somewhat relevant to the person you’re trying to reach.

It can tell you enough to know what company they work for or at least their inferred industry, and give you enough insight to ensure you offer value. Then, you can directly ask for first-party data in an effort to deliver even more personalization and value. 

It’s a progression, and inference-based data can help open the door to more first-party data which can then help you truly personalize — and personalize well. 

Related Article: Is Less More for Customer Personalization and Privacy?

The Stakes Have Become Higher

If we take an honest look at how recent privacy restrictions have come about, it’s clear they were brought on by an abuse (however well-meaning) of privacy by marketers and businesses everywhere. Too many people received too much irrelevant, intrusive content and had enough.

So now, since privacy laws have been changing and consumers are even more cautious about who can access their information and when, the stakes for marketers and businesses have been raised. 

Once someone is in your database, you must send them quality content in order to keep them. If you blast them with extraneous communications, and they unsubscribe, good luck getting them to re-subscribe. Meaning it’s not a gamble worth taking now, if it ever was.

So, every interaction needs to feel like personal communication. Marketers must respect and cherish the people on their lists, and treat them like human beings.

The best way to do this is by using content to deliver the information they want and to help them progress through the buyer journey, making quality content experiences of utmost importance. 

Fuel Better Sales Engagement

When you’re able to truly personalize while also respecting privacy laws, you’re in a unique position to enable sales more effectively than ever. Once someone has shown interest in your company and what you sell, your real opportunity is to develop and deliver a solid content experience for your sales reps to share — and then use a springboard to continue the conversation. So you can’t think of content only in the first half of the funnel; it has to be used strategically throughout the entire funnel as well as post-sale. 

Also remember that the typical B2B buying committee has evolved. Gartner estimates that purchasing now requires six to 10 decision-makers, each of whom has consumed at least four or five pieces of content they’ve gathered independently.

What does this mean in the context of privacy and personalization? Well, if you’re able to reach one person in that buying group and give them a stellar content experience that gets them engaged, they’re highly likely to share it with the others in the organization. This, then, is the single best way to influence the entire buying committee. 

When it comes to privacy and personalization, the two actually go hand-in-hand far more than you might initially think. They can work together to give customers what they want, and move them through your funnel — ethically and successfully. And that is the real goal.