At Econsultancy and IBM’s BusinessConnect event in Singapore I hosted a roundtable discussion that allowed marketers to share the challenges and opportunities that personalisation presents.

Here’s a summary of five of the main talking points, and for more on this topic read my write up of our BusinessConnect event in Malaysia.

How to get senior buy-in for personalisation?

Delegates were at different stages of their journey towards personalisation, with some making initial investigations while others had bought in new software packages and were unsure of the next steps.

But all were interested in discussing what’s required in terms of investment and resource for scaling up a personalisation programme.

It seems having the capability to implement personalisation doesn’t mean you have all the answers.

Similarly, the impact of personalisation isn’t always immediately apparent, particularly when looking at using targeted content delivery at different stages of the purchase funnel.

Obviously this makes it difficult for marketers to make a case for more budget, especially when leadership often want immediate results.

This led us on to talking about the importance of a test-and-learn culture.

A few delegates were able to talk of their success at having created an agile testing strategy where new ideas were constantly being rolled out on a small scale.

Those ideas that failed are quickly dropped, while those that showed promise are supported with additional budget and additional optimisation tests.

You can read more about this topic in our digital transformation report about agility and innovation.

Social data

Personalisation is only as good as the data on which it is founded, so effective collection and cleansing processes are fundamental.

One of the key topics for discussion was the validity of social data and the thorny issue of people providing inaccurate personal information.

Data from social channels needs to be rigorously checked and cleaned before it can be fed into CRM or personalisation systems, which can be a lengthy process.

The potential value of social data is obviously too big to ignore, but brands need to be fully aware of the potential pitfalls.

Content personalisation

One of the phrases we commonly associate with personalisation is about delivering the right content to the right person at the right time.

But it’s a very difficult thing to get right.

Factoring in content types, buying personas, and stage of the purchase funnel, there are any number of combinations of messages that can be delivered.

Delegates had a lot of questions but few answers on how marketers can ensure marketing messages are both timely and relevant.

B2B personas

My second roundtable was largely made up of B2B marketers, who were all having difficulties with developing customer personas.

The crux of the issue was how much weight to give to a person’s role versus the company they work for.

In very simplified terms, should we personalise communications based on the fact they are a CTO, or that they work for a hotel chain?

B2B companies targeting small businesses have a vast and diverse target audience so it’s a complex task to deliver marketing messages that are uniquely relevant to each one.

And in the modern world of flat team structures and ‘data ninjas’, should we pay too much attention to job titles anyway?

We ended up raising more questions than answers.

B2B metrics – get me leads

The B2B sales funnel is typically far longer than in B2C and leads to higher value conversions, which means that softer metrics have more importance as lead nurturing is a more intricate process.

But that doesn’t mean people are willing to accept that engagement is a valuable outcome from marketing activity.

Delegates from B2B companies stated that internal teams are only interested in the number of leads generated from each marketing campaign rather than any longer term impact.