When it comes to forging strong client relationships, a personal touch goes a long way.
Personalization has always played an important role in the client experience. But now, the stakes are higher than ever before. In today’s saturated digital world, consumers encounter thousands of marketing messages every day. Constant exposure to generic marketing means that the vast majority get tuned out in an instant.
To cut through the noise, your firm needs to be a familiar voice in the crowd.
The most effective way to grab a client or prospect’s attention is to deliver targeted, valuable, highly personalized communications that speak to them directly. Using a client’s name in an email merge field does not cut it anymore. It is time for the big leagues, and every touchpoint along your client journey should be crafted with the user in mind.
Most marketers already know this. Studies by Evergage and Forrester show that 98% of marketers know that personalization advances customer relationships, and 89% of businesses are investing in personalization.
The race for the best-in-class client experience is on, and personalization is here to give your firm a head start.
But how can you ensure that your personalization strategy is the right fit for your professional services firm?
And how can you implement it without driving a hole in your budget or stretching your team too thinly?
In this guide, we are sharing our take on personalization for professional services organizations just like yours.
- What Can Your Firm Gain From a Personalization Strategy?
- 5 Action Steps to Preparing Your Data for Personalization
- 4 Key Considerations for Personalized Content Campaigns
- How to Deliver Personal Experiences Across Multiple Channels
- Staying Compliant with Personalization
- Tips for Creating Unique Client Experiences at Your Events
- What Tools and Systems Do You Need to Get Started?
MARKETING INNOVATION SETS THE PERSONALIZATION BAR HIGH
Every single day, your clients scroll through preference-based social media feeds, personalized ads, and dynamic web pages that adapt to their purchasing habits. And as a result, they are used to frictionless shopping experiences.
When consumer behaviours shift, expectations rise by default — and this does not stop at e-commerce. Mavenlink reports that client expectations are continuously rising when it comes to quality of work, speed of service delivery, cost, transparency and accountability.
Your firm may already feel the pressure to keep up the pace in one or more of these areas. Add a less-than-personal marketing strategy into the mix, and your client experience could be on the line.
When your firm’s growth is built on strong relationships, this is out of the question.
TECHNOLOGY OPENS UP A ZONE OF OPPORTUNITY
Until recently, when it comes to delivering highly personal client experiences, smaller firms may have had the upper hand.
But these days, by implementing personalization technology, you can:
- Customize every marketing campaign and touchpoint across the client journey to match individual client needs.
- Replicate the premium experience of 1:1 services by making clients and prospects feel valued, respected and acknowledged.
- Create a cohesive, on-brand experience by connecting the dots between marketing channels such as emails, webinars, content and live events.
- Move your leads closer to conversion by staying front of mind and responding to specific concerns.
- Stand out from the competition by delivering relevant campaigns — even on a slimmer budget.
All of this adds up to unique client experiences, delivered on a mass scale.
It may require some stakeholder buy-in, but you can build a personalized end-to-end client experience by implementing core data insights into your firm-wide client experience strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at all the ways you can start exceeding expectations across your client journey — starting with data.
PERSONALIZATION STARTS WITH ACTIONABLE DATA
When it comes to delivering personal experiences, context matters.
Salesforce reports that 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their personal needs influences their loyalty. And in professional services, long-lasting relationships are the key to success.
Before your firm can adopt a personalization strategy, you need to check the strength of your foundations. Having a watertight plan in place to collect, analyze, and utilize data will ensure that you make informed decisions and measure your success as you go.
1. LEVERAGE YOUR CRM DATA
It is impossible to create campaigns that generate referrals, leads and cross-selling opportunities without a thorough knowledge of your existing clients.
Campaigns made on assumptions are likely to fall flat, encourage opt-outs or damage your brand in the long run. What you need instead is a 360-degree understanding of every stage of your client journey based on real data.
To do this, you need to tap into a reliable bank of actionable data about your existing clients and prospects. Chances are, the majority of this unused data sits within your CRM.
This single source of truth is a sturdy foundation for building accurate records of your client journey. Centralizing your MarTech stack around it not only allows you to maximize existing relationships and identify cross-selling opportunities, but it also reduces your lead acquisition costs.
To find out how to make the most of your firm’s CRM to drive growth, make sure to download our free ebook.
2. GATHER INSIGHTS ACROSS ALL CHANNELS
Multiple marketing channels are essential to reaching your clients and prospects wherever and whenever they like to hear from you. Your firm uses a number of marketing channels and methods of distribution, including email, website content, mobile, live events, webinars and social media.
A strategic, data-driven approach to multichannel marketing enables every piece of content to speak directly to your clients and prospects. But unless you already have a strong omnichannel strategy in place, your insights are likely scattered across a wide range of channels, dashboards and MarTech tools.
Using a BI dashboard or centralized reporting system will help you consolidate disparate pieces of data, allowing you to extract valuable insights whenever you need them.
It will also create a more cohesive picture of your client journey. By keeping all your insights in one place, you will be able to build more detailed audience profiles, understand user behavior and compare engagement across channels to identify and replicate your most effective campaigns.
When implementing this step, remember to include audience demographics, market research, and contextual information, including topical trends that may influence engagement.
We have created a free crash course on multichannel marketing for professional services to help you connect the dots between all your client data touchpoints and make the most of your insights. Remember: the deeper your knowledge, the better your service.
3. BUILD COHESIVE CLIENT PROFILES
Gathering data is the first step to understanding your clients and prospects on a personal level. The next step is to analyze this data so that it can be used to create tailored campaigns for every stage of the client journey.
By using insights from your CRM and marketing channels, you can distil your audience into highly specific profiles. Because these are built on real-time first-party data, these profiles are not your average client persona. You can use them to identify client needs on an individual level and create relevant campaigns that suit.
Based on these client profiles, you can develop a segmentation strategy that maximizes your data and ensures relevant communications always reach the right contacts.
Contact tagging and audience segmentation are two crucial elements of personalization. With a cohesive tagging system in place, you can build powerful sequences and automated evergreen campaigns that address your clients’ needs.
4. START PERSONALIZING FROM THE INSIDE
Keeping all those actionable insights to yourself will only get you so far. One key benefit of identifying your most engaged prospects and top-billing clients is that your practitioners can use this information to concentrate their efforts where it counts. That way, you get to combine 1:1 service with a data-driven strategy.
Before you start implementing a personalization strategy, make sure you have internal processes in place to analyze data, score leads, identify key accounts and follow up with them personally. This might include regular reporting, automating follow-up reminders for high-ticket clients, or even establishing an in-house Account-Based Marketing team.
The right MarTech tools take the hassle out of this process. With a tool like Concep Send, you can quickly score leads and deliver personalized reports to relevant fee earners to keep cross-selling and upselling opportunities on their radar.
5. KEEP LEARNING AS YOU GO
In order to create personalized client experiences, your strategy needs to adapt as your firm grows. Regularly analyzing your insights and adjusting campaigns accordingly is essential to making your clients feel seen, heard and acknowledged.
Data analysis should be a regular part of your organization’s workflows. This can include asking for client feedback, gathering testimonials, and following up with event attendees. Listening, learning and optimizing as you go will help you create campaigns that address your clients’ pain points in real-time, and in their own language.
THE DATA SPEAKS FOR ITSELF: PERSONALIZED CONTENT CONVERTS
Reaching an ideal prospect in a crowded room is tricky when you are not speaking to them directly. Personalizing your messaging across the entire client journey can massively increase your chances of capturing and holding their attention.
A whitepaper by SmarterHQ reports that 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging. Not only that, but Hubspot reports that nearly three quarters of online consumers get frustrated with content that has nothing to do with their interests.
Investing some extra time into personalized communications pays off. For example, according to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
By utilizing your first-party data, you can tap into a well of insights that will help you implement personalization strategies into your content campaigns.
1. CREATE RELEVANT CONTENT FOR EACH STAGE OF THE CLIENT JOURNEY
Your clients, prospects and subscribers are all at different stages of your client journey. Universal, generic content will not appeal to every stage. Thankfully, this does not mean you need to create all-new blog posts, events and emails to address unique concerns at every stage.
Instead, you can try out personalization techniques to make each campaign appeal to the right demographic. You can do this by tagging and segmenting your contacts into different stages, from lead through to high-ticket client. Once this is done, make minor tweaks to your campaigns to better fit your target audience. Even the smallest changes to the language, calls to action and tone of delivery can make a tangible difference.
2. MAKE YOUR CONTENT EASY TO FIND AND EASY TO READ
When a prospective client lands on your website or reads one of your articles, you have a handful of seconds to grab their attention. You cannot afford to spend those precious seconds on navigation trouble.
Put yourself in a prospect’s shoes, and visit your firm’s website. How quickly can they find articles or blog posts that match their interests, industry or practice area? If the search feels sluggish or convoluted, it might be time to reorganize your CMS.
Clear categories and content tags will not only make it easier for your website users to find your content, but also to engage with it.
Categorizing your blog posts and articles also encourages your fee earners and BD professionals to share the firm’s posts with clients and connections. You can automate this process by sending a roundup of relevant articles directly to key stakeholders for distribution.
3. MAXIMIZE YOUR CONTENT THROUGH REPURPOSING
You do not always have to create new content from scratch to stay front of mind. Having a rich archive of evergreen content makes it easy to repurpose older pieces and deliver them to fresh audience members.
For instance, you could automate a welcome email sequence that delivers your best evergreen Insurance Law blog posts to all new subscribers on your Insurance Law mailing list. This provides a warm, personal welcome, and encourages subscribers to come back for more.
You could also repurpose content across channels. For example, if your firm’s social media followers engage best with video content, you could refashion articles and infographics into short videos that grab more attention.
Effective repurposing is all about reviewing analytics, seeing which content performs best, and tweaking your campaigns to match.
4. DON’T FORGET TO MAKE IT ENGAGING
The content you share should engage, excite and inspire your clients and prospects. This is especially important to keep in mind in professional services, where content is often formal and highly technical.
Make sure that every piece of content published and distributed across your marketing channels is digestible, understandable and relevant to your audience’s interests. Your thought leadership pieces will be more useful to your audience this way — and encourage them to share with their network.
Including a relevant call to action in every article and email campaign will nudge your readers further down the client journey. Analyzing past campaign performance using your CRM data can help you identify the most effective calls-to-action for each segment of your audience.
MAPPING PERSONAL ROUTES ACROSS MARKETING CHANNELS
Client journeys are rarely linear. In order to facilitate personal engagement on a growing scale, you need to create a cohesive client experience that leaves you prepared for every bend in the road.
In our free crash course on multichannel marketing, we outlined the importance of integrating all your channels and methods of distribution. That way, you can replicate the stellar client experience your fee earners are known for.
Mapping out your entire client experience, along with all the routes a prospect might take before engaging your services, is an essential step. Only then can you start personalizing the strategy for each individual channel.
Use your insights to understand how users engage with your firm’s content between channels and across devices. Then, start creating automation sequences that move them forward through your marketing funnel across their preferred touchpoints — from awareness right through to loyalty.
Hyper-specificity is key here — you need to make it clear that each message is meant for its recipient.
A few examples of personalized multi-channel experiences include:
- Running a report of your top-billing clients and inviting them to in-person events to encourage cross-selling opportunities.
- Nurturing past clients and less engaged email subscribers with relevant content campaigns that align with their interests.
- Following up with webinar attendees and inviting them to book in for an exclusive offer.
PERSONALIZING PRIVACY PREFERENCES
Nothing is more personal in business than private data.
The way your organization handles personal data speaks volumes about your trustworthiness. And since the strongest relationships are built on trust, it is vital to demonstrate respect and responsibility at every step of the client journey — especially when it comes to data privacy.
The Accenture Personalization Pulse Check Report found that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalized experience. Your clients and prospects are used to trading some personal data for tailored service. It is a fair trade-off: they know doing so saves time, and offers them relevant content in return.
But handling sensitive data about your clients and contacts comes with high risk.
One of the most secure ways to show that you care about data privacy and compliance is to offer a personalized preference center. That way, your clients and contacts can choose the communications they wish to receive, as well as their preferred channels for receiving them. They also have the agency to opt-out of any irrelevant campaigns and mailing lists.
This functionality fully integrates with your CRM, meaning that you and your team can stay compliant without adding admin to your busy schedule.
Here at Concep, personalized preference centers happen to be one of our specialties. We know trust is a top concern for professional services firms, so we think it is best to leave the choice in clients’ hands.
WHILE MARKETING TECHNOLOGY RACES AHEAD, HUMAN INTERACTION STILL MATTERS.
A PwC report found that 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want to see more human interaction in the future. And a staggering 84% of consumers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.
All these insights emphasize the importance of building trust through 1:1 connection — which is precisely what your fee earners do best.
Professional services firms can avail of the benefits of personalization through a seamless blend of digital and face-to-face channels. Not only does this allow you to leverage your digital transformation and maximize your MarTech stack, but it also facilitates deeper connection with clients and leads.
Creating a personal experience is important for both offline and online events. With the right combination of pre-planning and automation tools, your firm will delight attendees at webinars and online conferences.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a personal event experience:
- Use data and feedback to plan events that address your clients’ concerns. The RSVPs will come flooding into your inbox.
- Be strategic with your invites. If spaces are limited, use your data insights to identify your most engaged users and top-billing clients, and extend invitations to those who would benefit most.
- Make sure that the registration process is hassle-free. This goes for both the client-facing side of registration as well as your internal workflows. Your MarTech tools should make this effortless with features such as QR code registration scanning and automated event reminders.
- Follow up afterwards. Whether it be an automated email or a personal message from a fee earner, your attendees will appreciate being recognized for showing up. It is also a great idea to follow lead-generating events with a tailored email sequence to promote your service offerings.
- Supplement client meetings with a top-of-the-class digital experience. This might include onboarding sequences, automated forms and appointment reminders, and personalized newsletters tailored to specific interests and industries.
- Recognize and reward loyalty. This does not have to mean spending half of your marketing budget on gifts. In the corporate world, small gestures do not go unnoticed. Personalized birthday emails or holiday cards are great examples of low-cost gestures that add a personal touch.
By blending the power of face-to-face interaction with innovative digital marketing strategies, you can deliver campaigns that feel personal — even on a mass scale.
YOUR FIRM’S REPUTATION CANNOT BE MADE IN ONE DAY
Personalization is no band-aid strategy.
Four in five consumers agree that the more personalization tactics a brand uses, the more loyal they are to that brand. By getting strategic with your personalization today, your firm can forge stronger client relationships, build your reputation and drive referrals for years to come.
Firmwide engagement is necessary for effective personalization.
Sure, siloed marketing teams can deliver tailored campaigns, analyze data reports and create relevant content. But in order to fully leverage the unique advantages of professional services marketing, you will need buy-in at every level. After all, your practitioners deliver personal client experiences every day — and by working together, you can enhance those experiences tenfold.
It is almost impossible to run personalized campaigns without the right MarTech tools in your belt. That is because personalization relies heavily on data — collecting it, analyzing it and utilizing it. Without this data on hand, you cannot implement responsive automations that fit every stage of your client journey.
Having to invest in better data systems turns many professional services marketers off the idea of personalizing their campaigns.
But here is the good news:
- Personalization does not disrupt your organizational structure. Instead, it highlights your strengths and enhances your existing workflows.
- Implementing a personalization strategy does not have to break the bank, or require a great deal of upskilling.
- You can implement personalization techniques even if you are not tech savvy — and you can find a provider who provides free support and training.
- All you have to do is leverage your existing CRM data to get started.
When your MarTech tools are centralized around reliable CRM data, you can rest assured that your campaigns will not miss the mark.
This is where we come in.
Concep is the trusted MarTech partner for professional services firms worldwide. We provide adaptive, specialized solutions that enhance your business model and help your marketing team move the needle forward.
We care about your relationships. That is why we have invested in integrations with CRM leaders such as InterAction, Intapp OnePlace, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Legal 360, DealCloud, Peppermint and Salesforce.
Get in touch with a member of our team today to unlock the potential of personalization across every stage of your client journey.
If you enjoyed this guide to personalization for professional services, make sure to catch up on the rest of our Roadmap to Relationship-Building Success series.
“Technology will ultimately drive personalization at scale for companies of all sizes. Once a company achieves a single point of control over data, decisions and interactions, it will have developed the technological framework to establish a fruitful relationship with its customers and the ability to scale a frictionless customer experience as the company evolves. Only then can a company be in a position to deliver superior customer experiences.”
Dale Renner, CEO and Founder of RedPoint, Forbes