The 4 key principles for personalisation in B2B

Jonathan Kelly
Experience Director

Effective personalisation needs real purpose

Personalisation is a mainstay and a key growth component for B2C platforms. Most, if not all, of us have succumbed to purchasing a product we didn’t know we needed from an opportunistically-placed Amazon recommendation.

And after being confined to our houses in extended lockdowns, we have ended up binge-watching a random Netflix show that we would have never ordinarily come across if it wasn’t for a relevant and cleverly-placed personalised recommendation.

But how does this translate to B2B? Is it really relevant for internal tools or platforms without commerce? What tangible benefit will it really bring? In the B2B world priorities and benefits around personalisation can go beyond sales to driving business efficiency. And if you can save either time, money or both then most businesses would bite your hand off to have it.

So if personalisation can bring these efficiencies, why isn’t everyone doing it already? The Personalisation Maturity Report conducted by Dynamic Yield indicates that personalisation represents a huge opportunity for businesses, but interestingly most businesses are not set up to really deliver personalisation at scale, and so are not able to capitalise on it.

95% of organisations believe in the long-term benefits of personalisation but only 9% say personalisation is already part of their business’ DNA

The State of Personalisation Maturity in 2020, Dynamic Yield

The reasons for businesses inability to deliver on personalisation come down to a number of factors – lack of tools, lack of dedicated expertise, lack of coherent strategy – but the truth is that personalisation is more than just simply inserting the user’s first name in a sentence. In terms of impact, people value personalisation that helps them, functionality that makes their lives simpler or a tool that enables them to complete a task more easily.

Organisations that focus their personalised messaging around helping their target audiences can expect 16% more impact on commercial outcomes than those that don’t

Maximise the Impact of Personalisation, Gartner 2020

Adopting the use of ‘help me’ personalisation in B2B tools can provide tangible increased productivity for your users and provide meaningful increased efficiency for your business. These four principles will help you to focus your thinking and make the most out of personalisation.




1. Make it easy

Use personalised messaging, content and contextual actions to make it easier for the user to complete their desired tasks. The personally-curated Netflix content being shown to customers actually solves a real problem: it helps them to find a show they like without the hassle of searching. It makes their lives easier and saves them time. Delivering Rolls-Royce’s Customer Portal we at Candyspace created an entire experience personalised to the user’s job role.

Depending on whether the user is a fleet manager, service engineer for an airline or an internal Rolls-Royce employee they are served a custom and personalised set of applications on their home screen dashboard.

These applications are carefully curated to provide maximum relevance to their specific roles and the specific tasks they need to carry out. We layered user permissions on top of this, meaning that only specific users with the right access could perform sensitive and business-critical actions.

This system ensured that whole applications or even just specific buttons within them could be turned on or off based on the user’s job role and log in credentials. This gave the business maximum flexibility, comfort and control and also made the users’ lives much easier, saving them time wading through irrelevant apps, screens and information, and showing them only what is most relevant to them and their specific context.

2. Reassure users

Understand users’ context and specific needs in order to make them feel less anxious about making the wrong decision. We implemented a great example of this when redesigning Augustinus Bader’s eCommerce platform. They are a luxury skincare brand with an amazing and unique product but also a fairly high price point.

Augustinus Bader’s customers told us that they were anxious about signing up to auto-replenish their product via the subscription program. The key reason for that reluctance was around managing the frequency of subscription. Customers were unsure how long the product would last and felt more comfortable buying individual products instead of subscribing.

To overcome this, we created a specific set of short and easy questions that captured information about the user’s skin regime, how many pumps they usually use of their cream and whether they use just in the morning, in the evening or both. Depending on the answers to these questions, the subscription frequency automatically updated, removing anxiety and giving the user confidence about the cadence of auto-replenishment and dramatically increased conversions to the subscription program.

This level of reassurance can be applied in B2B where automated processes can deliver upsell but with reassuring clarity. Transparency and reassurance are the route to successful interaction and conversion.

3. Teach something new

Understanding what users have done and what they haven’t helps them uncover new features and gives them a better idea of how they could use a product/tool. Similarly, understanding context and guiding users through key tasks can really help to strengthen adoption and retention. All of this can be tailored and personalised depending on individual users’ behaviours.

If the user is brand new, you want to make sure they understand the top-level functionality of your tool’s key features. You can use tool tips to point out important information and explain how features work and you can also translate these into videos that guide users through key processes but make sure it is easy for users to dismiss to avoid frustration. You can house this type of handy information in FAQs or Help areas of your platform, so that it is easy to find again if users need help in the future.

By tracking usage on the platform you can identify when individual users have mastered the basics and are ready to be exposed to advanced features. Be careful not to overwhelm users or bombard them with information – instead find a healthy balance of offering help at the time the user needs it, when they are performing a specific task, rather than initialising pop-ups at random times that seem irrelevant.

4. Reward users

Positively reinforce users when using a tool, either by helping them to complete tasks smoothly and effectively or seeing progress/efficiency gains the more they use the product. Allow your product growth to be driven by user behaviours.

By using data tools, hypothesising and testing in ways that are now common practice in e-commerce, you will create a better product. And by listening to and rewarding users they will feel ownership and recognise value. Take inspiration from educational apps such as Duolingo where achievements are given simple rewards or experience points.

While the use of rewards is common in B2C, at Candyspace we’ve had success using rewards in B2B, driving engagement for SAP Hybris cloud solutions.

Seamless “Help Me” personalisation wins

Creating personalisation with real purpose and focusing on actually helping people can take a platform from an average to an excellent customer experience. And better customer experience has a direct correlation to revenue:

84% of organisations that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue

Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, Dimension Data

To deliver that improvement you’ll need a clear plan. First, identify the most meaningful ways to help your users. Think about how you can make their lives easier, remove their anxieties, teach them something or reward them. Complement this by assessing the overall customer journey and identifying high value moments or points of friction. Use information about your users’ context, mood or previous usage to help them overcome their difficulties and complete their task more quickly and easily.

Then you will need to ensure you have the right tools. Choosing a DXP is your first step. You will need one which allows you the flexibility to deliver personalised and dynamic experiences, and to then optimise them, through data learnings. This is why we are working with Optimizely. Their infinitely flexible and dynamic offering will help you deliver real value.

Personalisation is like seasoning. A little makes a big difference.

Personalisation that Drives Profitable Engagement, Adarth Albee

By deploying Optimizely you’ll be able to deliver the most effective personalisation, naturally, and invisibly helping your users to get their tasks done quicker. If you can find a way to help your people, you really will delight them and your customers, and that in turn will help you grow your business.