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#3 Industry personalization and personas with Andy Mura - Sr Director of Marketing at Zenloop

October 18, 2022 | Teemu Raitaluoto
Industry personalization and personas with Andy Mura

Buyers in B2B are looking to answer very different questions depending on their pain points. Different industries and customer personas often have very different pain points that your product and content needs to solve. Content personalization allows marketers to tailor their approach and communicate in the most relevant way to each customer.

Intro: What is Zenloop?

[00:00:00] Teemu Raitaluoto: To kind of kick things off maybe describe what is Zenloop and what's your role in the company?

[00:00:05] Andy Mura: Yeah, definitely. So yeah, my name is Andy Mura and I'm currently responsible for marketing and partnerships at Zenloop and CX1.

[00:00:14] So Zenloop is our product. And what is Zenloop? Zenloop is a CX action management platform, meaning that we allow companies to collect customer feedback at every touchpoint of their journey, and process that feedback in such a way that this is immediately conducive to action.

[00:00:34] Meaning that every piece of information, every survey, every opinion or anything you collect from customers. So all the insights are translated automatically into either automated workflows or internal project management processes so that we translate automatically insights into reaction to customers and actions, no matter how many customers.

[00:00:58] So obviously if you have a small coffee place somewhere, you have 10, 20 customers, you can talk to them individually and you can address their concerns. But when you have thousands and thousands of customers you can't possibly manually react to every opinion.

[00:01:14] And you can't take into account all the opinions for your decision making processes. And that's what we actually allow you to do. On the one hand to be able to react in the right way to every single survey and comment. So in order to maximize win-back programs if the customer is unhappy. Or loyalty programs, if the customer is happy. And the referrals obviously. And at the same time, our system allows you to categorize and define priorities and key drivers that would need to actually feed your innovation management programs.

[00:01:50] So, and then the system automatically kickstarts projects for teams to improve on processes or product or services. And obviously because of Zenloop, we also close the loop with the customer. Allowing companies to get back to the customers in terms of expectation management. For example, you complained about X, we're working on it, we have an accountable person, it's gonna take a while, we'll get back to you as soon as we improve it on that.

[00:02:15] So expectation management and also keeping customers in the loop. Wherever there's a resolution to a problem that they know, they're aware, that something has been done. So my feedback was taken to account. They worked on it, and now there's a solution. So closing the loop at the end.

[00:02:33] Teemu Raitaluoto: And who is Zenloop best for? Who is the target customer?

[00:02:37] Andy Mura: Yeah. Obviously the more customers you have, the more difficult it becomes for you to manage all feedback. So in general, companies that have multiple touchpoints and these touchpoints can be in real life, in brick and mortar locations, but they can also be digital.

[00:02:53] We support both touchpoints. And if your customer journey has multiple touchpoints. And you have a certain amount of customers. So it's not a small store somewhere in a small town. Then you can totally profit from having an action management platform. And that's why we're pretty industry neutral.

[00:03:14] Although, obviously there are industries that have more complicated customer journeys, and they require a lot of support. Like for example, financing, insurance, energy or utility providers in general, but telecommunications, retail, and software companies as well. Because you have a lot of touchpoints with the customers.

[00:03:34] Teemu Raitaluoto: Yeah, that's right.

1. Importance of website in a customer journey

[00:03:35] Teemu Raitaluoto: How does the average customer journey looks like for the customer of Zenloop, and what kind of role does the website play in that?

[00:03:43] Andy Mura: Well, we monitor every touchpoint in our customer journey for multitouch attribution. So we notice that no matter where the journey starts. Say, you hear about us through advertising or social media, or you meet us at an event. In one way or another, you end up on our website.

[00:04:01] So your website is not the only point of sales anymore. So for example, LinkedIn offers now a new product page. There are directories that people use a lot, like G2, Capterra. Let's say your sales and marketing processes are very decentralized and you have lots of touch points.

[00:04:21] But eventually they all end up on the website for one reason or another. Of course, to collect more information about you, your company. Make sure you're trustworthy and collect more information about your products. So our customer journey is usually quite complex because we talk to a lot of decision-makers. So, that involves a lot of touch points and the website plays a pivotal role, obviously. And as mentioned before, showing trustworthiness and also presenting at least the first information on what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. And getting more like in touch with the person. Just showing faces, showing there's a huge company behind it. We're working on the product together, and so on and so on. So, yeah, website still plays a pivotal role in the customer journey.

2. Content personalization for different industries

[00:05:14] Teemu Raitaluoto: When I went through your website zenloop.com, I noticed that you have sections for different industries. There's currently four different main industries that you mentioned. Do you personalize content for these industries in any way when you do content marketing?

[00:05:28] Andy Mura: Absolutely. Absolutely. That is paramount. So currently there are four industries, we're working on adding more pages. It's obviously a process, but you will see a more extensive list of current customers divided by industries.

[00:05:42] Yeah, first to step in. Customization is the kind of communication on those pages, because every pain point in customer experience varies. For example, for retail, a lot of companies suffer because of lack of repeat purchase or conversion on the site, cart abandonment, stuff like that.

[00:06:00] These are now the same problems, for example, are felt in the energy sector. In which, for example, products are highly commoditized and people changed from one company to the other just based on pricing and stuff like that. So it's kind of like every industry has specific pain points and we make sure we address those pain points with specific content, which is ultra tailored for every industry. Doesn't matter if it's automotive, telecommunications, energy, retail, whatever. Everything is highly customized.

[00:06:31] Teemu Raitaluoto: And can you share any measurable results from that type of content personalization?

[00:06:36] Andy Mura: Absolutely. Like first of all is how happy our sales representatives are because when would they start a conversation with prospects. It's not based on just our product selling. It's more like a relationship where we are the experts. We show you. We have some content that could help you already in terms of starting your journey in customer experience management. And that could be a whitepaper, a recording of a webinar or a session for our CX1 event where we invite top industry experts in every industry.

[00:07:11] We have industry specific... We have five industry specific events a year. We call them the CX1 industry related. So we have CX1 Automotive, CX1 Energy, CX1 Retail, and every year five different sectors. And that is invaluable content because we have only the top CEOs of the best companies there. Or best head of customer experience.

[00:07:34] And we can share that together with, for example more information in terms of white papers eBooks, best practice. We collect a lot of best practices and we can share that. So, starting a relationship based on value is different than starting a relationship based on, "Hey do you need to buy my product?"

[00:07:51] Because they say, "No." Because why? So first of all, do you have a problem? Yes. Here some solutions. Let's dig. Dig deeper together and let's see if it's a fit. Maybe that's enough for you.

3. When to start content personalization?

[00:08:03] Teemu Raitaluoto: I can imagine that it wasn't always the case that you had this type of industry segmentation. So what was the pivotal moment where you decided to go fully on segmenting based on industry?

[00:08:17] Andy Mura: It was more or less like a company decision at an executive level. We decided to have a very thorough approach to each industry. And we had like a member of our executive, which is responsible only for making sure that everything was ready to tackle a new industry from market research, interviews. We talk to everybody in every industry to understand key pain points and obviously to tailor our content preparationals in terms collateral. I guess it was more like really a strategic decision in terms of systematically approach every industry the way it's supposed to be addressed.

4. Common B2B website mistakes

[00:08:57] Teemu Raitaluoto: And do you see other companies doing this? Do you see any common mistakes that companies do when talking to their customers on the website? What are some common things?

[00:09:11] Andy Mura: Well, don't get me started. So, I'm a buyer. I buy a lot of products, especially software. And most of the time when I start my evaluation journey, I land on the website of a company. Maybe first touchpoint, maybe not. And the biggest mistakes is like scrolling for two hours and still not understanding: "Yeah, but what do you do?" Like generic statements and generic copy. Just marketing jargon, "we impact your bottom line." Yeah, thank you. I hope you're done. But how, what, what, what does? So, most of the time it takes a long time to even understand what a product does even before you...

[00:09:54] So, a lot of companies focus only on what benefits they have, but we all address the same benefits. It's either return investment, better performance, more efficient processes. So, obviously, but how? Is that a problem that I have? And then yeah, as you mentioned, most of our websites are not personalized and they don't subdivide content in terms of customer persona.

[00:10:20] So like we address different personas in companies. And that's why we're also, by the way, launching new pages that only talk about specific pain points of customer personas. But the idea is I have lots of content which could be relevant for a sales rep, but it's not relevant for the marketing team.

[00:10:40] So if your product is valuable for multiple customer personas, content needs to be adapted. And that's biggest mistake is you really need to understand what my issue is. So, generic promises, "we increased...". For a marketer, could be, "we support you with lead pipeline, volume generation." that is an empty statement because it doesn't make any sense and you don't know if that's my problem.

[00:11:08] And everybody say the same, so it's not personalized at all. So, no generic jargon is my advice is really go straight to the point: "We do X by doing Y and we want to achieve Z". Let's work together, maybe check out, and then customize your content based on customer persona and pain points. So, do you have this problem? Click here. Do you have this problem? Click here. Because the customer journey is a lot easier if you feel like, "Oh yeah, that resonates with me. What is your solution for it? And do I believe you?" That's the next step.

[00:11:45] And obviously the other mistake is a lot of companies, they just randomly use their gut feeling to gauge some kind of potential pain points. And they are very broad, generic, and big. Just spend your time, your homework. Interview your customer personas a lot. At least between 30 to 60 interviews with personas that might have that problem and actually collect their words. Use their words and their lingo and also their concerns. Address their individual concerns.

5. Aligning sales and marketing to create personalized content

[00:12:26] Teemu Raitaluoto: That's a good point to always talk to your customers. Especially when you're creating personalized content. What role do you see sales playing in that scenario? Because personally, I think salespeople also have a strong view of what kind of value proposition works for this specific customer. This specific segment.

[00:12:45] Andy Mura: Yeah, of course. But that's part of like company alignment. So that there needs to be a cross-functional communication across different units from customer success, sales, marketing, everybody. Every unit involved in communications should totally be aligned. And the alignment of course starts from the initial input. But it's also a series of iterations based on feedback. Especially customer success managers or sales, like account executives and sales representatives. They provide "field feedback" on what their response to specific input is. It's about adjusting together and it's about using the same approach across the whole customer journey. Because if there's no consistency, there's a huge problem of course. And especially if you have contrasted messages. And then it becomes really really dangerous.

6. How to get started with content personalization?

[00:13:45] Teemu Raitaluoto: How do you think companies could maybe implement this kind of personalized approach a little bit better? What are some key steps they could take?

[00:13:54] Andy Mura: Yeah, again, everything starts with data in. So, data collection, a systematic approach on how to prepare the whole documentation, all preparation, how to customize every asset and every touchpoint. From, if you have a slide deck, if you have educational content, if you have webinars, if you have phone calls, and then obviously spend time together with teams and define, "that's what we currently have. Let's all align, let's all rehearse together and make sure it makes sense." And always having a repository of objections and say, "well, that isn't, didn't work at all. I mentioned actually now that doesn't work currently. And then evaluating is that, specifically tailored to this person we talked to?

[00:14:38] Is it specifically tailored to a segment? Maybe it's time to refine what we know about the industry with subcategories and sub industries. Or with people, same thing. Maybe this specific customer group has a subset which is even personally connected, but also with unique expectations.

7. How to get buy-in for new marketing initiatives?

[00:15:00] Teemu Raitaluoto: And we've actually ran into some companies that mentioned that they don't have the resources to really create personalized content. A lot of people assume that it takes one or two full-time people to do this. And so what is, what do you think is the right stage for a company to start thinking personalized content? Roughly a growth stage?

[00:15:23] Andy Mura: Yeah, well first of all, it's always a matter of prioritization. I don't believe in whenever I hear the word, "we don't have resources". I kind of challenge that. Because you always have resources. It's just a matter of prioritization. So if you show that there's a return on investment on what you're doing. And that only occurs you if you have initial tests and stuff like that.

[00:15:45] But you can also collect proxies by talking to other companies and similar. There might be a potential huge return on investment, like it makes no sense not to allocate time, resources into a project. And if you really don't have internal resources nowadays there's always a way to have access to external resources, so then it only becomes budget constrained.

[00:16:07] But again, it's a matter of priorities like, it's true. If you introduce a new process, it means you have to stop something else. But if the trade-off is a higher return investment, why would you do that? So it's either lack of priority or not addressing a priorities correctly. So there's always resources for everything. It's just prioritizing things.

[00:16:35] Teemu Raitaluoto: And you briefly mentioned experimentation there. How would you design an experiment for approaching personalized content?

[00:16:46] Andy Mura: Basically it's always about monitoring, for example, the customer journey, the speed efficiency, something like that. You can verify what happens when you address prospects with generic content in general. Versus you can see what happens when you talk their language, go to their events, prepare documentation which is relevant. And it's an easy experiment actually. You can collect data in terms of time-to-value, time-to-first-meeting, and speeds of conversion, and so on.

[00:17:18] And that is how you usually get buy-in for initiatives, right? Carry out a approval concept, show that it had an impact. Add another project. Then show that it had an impact. Add another one. And then you get your street cred in your company. And when you say, "we need to do that", everybody will say, "Yeah, yeah, let's do it."

8. Do B2B companies have enough data for experimentation?

[00:17:39] Teemu Raitaluoto: And usually when it comes to experimentation on the B2B side, a lot of marketers, they say that "we don't have statistical significance in the data". How would you approach that barrier?

[00:17:50] Andy Mura: I would also challenge that. True, with B2B you have a lot more data. You address people in the thousands and millions sometimes. It depends on the company. And obviously you have more data for experimentation. Nonetheless, nowadays we have the right tools to identify like granular signals. Also at a, first of all, in a much faster way. Also, we rely on a lot of algorithms and stuff like that, that can see correlation where we can't see any. Or can analyze data from a very different perspective. And that automatically optimize themselves based on what the algorithm knows.

[00:18:33] Of course it's a black box. Scary. Nonetheless, very useful. So we have the tools. They're accessible to everybody. This kind of ground low information is getting cheaper and cheaper, and more accessible to every company on every side. And it doesn't require a lot of input. Of course, if you then carry out your own analyzes and your regression. You do whatever you want and you come to the one conclusions because you didn't take into account the limited dataset. That is your problem.

[00:19:04] But there are ways nowadays to avoid that. So you can make informed decisions also in B2B, and even if you're starting. So even if you don't have hundreds and hundreds of customers. Or thousands of leads in pipeline every month. So also for smaller companies.

[00:19:20] Teemu Raitaluoto: Yeah, I think you can always also mix in some qualitative feedback to really understand getting to the depths of whether this resonated or not, with the customer.

[00:19:30] Andy Mura: Very good point. Obviously, we eat our own dog food. So every time a customer talks to one of us at any stage, they're always involved in a different kinds of service with different parameters and different methodology. But just to gauge the quality of the conversations they had with us.

[00:19:49] So we also use our product, and also in customer success we have recurring surveys at implementation. 28 days after implementation, three months after QBR and so on.

9. Common barriers to implementing dynamic personalization?

[00:20:03] Teemu Raitaluoto: Do you do anything at the moment with dynamic personalization on your website?

[00:20:10] Andy Mura: So the technology is there. So we can recognize companies on our website. So in B2B is not... in the past it was easier to personalize when it came to B2C. Also because you have more access to data. But we have the technology. Biggest constraints in this area are unfortunately connected to regulations, especially in the European Union. But for example, North America is getting that direction as well.

[00:20:43] Data protection and so on. So obviously I could potentially hyper-personalize content based on not only the company you work at, but even who you are. Call you by first name, in theory, but, and even change everything based on your previous steps in the customer journey. Yeah, you can do it.

[00:21:06] The perception varies across different countries. For example, if you did something like that to me, I'd be the happiest man on earth. Like I'd be super, super, super excited. I know that some other people would be very offended. It depends on the culture. Our company operates in specific European countries where, for example, privacy has a top highest priority.

[00:21:29] And sometimes they feel like any information that you collect directly, indirectly, could be misused. Because it could obviously. And so they're not always open for such. But definitely the opportunities are there.

10. What is creepy level of personalization?

[00:21:47] Teemu Raitaluoto: There's often talk about creepy level of personalization. What do you think is the right level of personalization for a B2B company buying some software?

[00:21:57] Andy Mura: Yeah, definitely. So, and that's the biggest problem because you would have to go really at a granular level. In some way, if you talk to marketers, we are more open to that. Actually, we applaud that. I'll just give you an example. I never ever, sorry but I never open cold emails. And I definitely never reply. But somebody reached out to me two or three weeks ago with an email. And they mentioned, "hey, I saw you are a fan of X and so that's why I think we should talk about and so and so on." And they actually collect information about me personally. And they found out a personal, a fan of a TV show actually.

[00:22:39] And it was funny that they used that approach. Why did it work? And actually, it was the first time in my life that I replied to say, "okay, you got my attention." And the idea is you are addressing a smaller company. So we are in the SMB space. We're not at large enterprise company and you are talking to a marketer. So obviously, I want to reward your effort because I know how hard it is to personalize content and I feel honored that you do that for me. You spent time doing your homework. You didn't send me the generic email, "hey, we solve this problem. You have 15 minutes for a call?" No. So it's always about rewarding, good outreach.

[00:23:22] So I'm a fan of that and I appreciate when people do a good job in that. Nonetheless, it depends. Company size. Are you talking to large companies or bigger companies? Customer persona. Marketers are little bit more open. Don't do that with the head of finance. Don't do that.

[00:23:44] Teemu Raitaluoto: Developers...

[00:23:45] Andy Mura: Yeah, or developers. Although, I challenge you to find information about developers. They're really good at covering their online presence. So they're not open. And again, check territory-wise what information and what regulations sets some layers. Some countries are really strict and it's a matter of finding the right balance and always putting it, "hey, let's not take it too seriously."

[00:24:10] It's a conversation starter and because some people might find it creepy. "Did you monitor my social media to know what I like?" That's weird actually. In B2B you have to have limits.

[00:24:24] Teemu Raitaluoto: There was an instance where I talked with a potential customer. They were a design agency whose customers didn't want to reveal that all the products that they have launched are made by this design agency. So when this company used personalization, they used company name. The customers thought that, "Oh, you're sharing with other people that we are your customers." Not that it's just personalized for you, but it's public for everyone to see. And that was a level that was not good enough already. Or that was creepy level of personalization already. And that's very interesting. And then that's something to learn for every company when they implement it.

[00:25:03] Andy Mura: Absolutely. If you want to use like publicly available information. Yes. But especially when you mentioned when it comes to your partners and your customers, you always have to have a specific process in place to make sure everybody's aware of what information is shared. So for example, from silly examples, if you go to an industry page, you see different logos. So to show these are our customers in this segment. But this has to be discussed with the companies. The thread is to be clear and at the same time using publicly available information.

[00:25:37] If there are changes in, for example, management or if there are some scoops about mergers and acquisitions. Anything that can be used to hyper-personalize your message can be used in B2B. So you have the personal personalization, "hey Andy, you like this show, Let's talk about it." Or you have the company, "hey, I heard congrats on purchasing or acquiring that company. How are you planning on expanding there. Can I support it?" In this case there's a clearer border to what information you can have access to and utilize.

11. Feedback vs innovation: Making faster horses

[00:26:15] Teemu Raitaluoto: So when it comes to improving customer experience. How do you strike a balance between gathering customer feedback and implementing based on that and just innovating on behalf of the customer?

[00:26:30] Andy Mura: Yeah, of course. That is a struggle that every company has. Having a balance between long term vision and customer expectations. When your long term vision actually matches customer expectations. The idea is that's a magic area. And in some cases, as you mentioned, expectations could be interpreted in the wrong way. "We want faster horses and so let's not develop cars.". And it's what happened, for example, with Kodak. Other companies that say, "hey you know, digital is not a solution to what we're doing. We have to do better what we're currently do." So in that case, it's not so much interpreting. It's about having the right tools to determine what is the underlying pain point. If I want to a fast horse, is it really that I want that? Is it the only solution? Or do I just want to get faster from A to B?

[00:27:29] So framing a problem from small to larger allows you to adopt more like a Design Thinking kind of mentality. A more innovative approach. And then the next question is, okay, so the customers express they want to faster horse. Actually, they don't want that. They just want their underlying issue. They want to go to it from A to B faster. Then my question is, okay, we're planning on creating eScooters that don't spend time at a traffic light and so on and so on. Not that you can run through a traffic. But at least you can go faster through a line. And is that addressing the same issue in a more creative way. Yes. So then that is the exact moment where you realize, okay, we can combine our vision with customer expectations. And it's about reframing things in a broader scheme and making sure. Okay, they are not, people are good at presenting possible solutions. But the idea is, check what is the underlying pain point. Not the solution that they recommend. It's a little bit like if you go to the doctor, you say, "hey I think I have a problem with my stomach." The doctor would first go through your symptoms and ask you for specifics. They decided then it's a stomach or something unrelated that has an effect on that. So, yeah. It's always about analyzing signals and having the right tools to drive innovation and action management.

[00:29:00] Teemu Raitaluoto: Yeah, sounds great. Definitely focusing on the underlying pain and then solving for the pain instead of just taking the solution as a granted what the customer say.

[00:29:11] Andy Mura: It could be millions of solutions to the same problem. And it's proven by the fact that there are a lot of, for example, even in software, there are so many software solutions as they address exactly the same issue. Could be retention, it could be conversion, but from a very different angle and perspective. And and that's your unique selling point. Customization and personalization, for example, is a way to drive more conversions, and it's one of the ways that need to be taken into account.


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