potential visitors

Much has been said of late about the 98% of website visitors who are thought to be anonymous—that is, they’ve come to your site and you don’t know who they are. They are hiding in plain sight. They arrived as a result of long hours and countless dollars of marketing devoted to various, successful, lead gen tactics including SEO and SEM.

Granted, not all 98% of those hard won visitors are prospects. Never-the-less a percentage of some significance is certain to be bona-fide buyers at the beginning, middle, or end of their purchase process. What if you could “Unmask” them?

That’s the premise behind real-time personalization (RTP) software and Marketo’s ebook entitled “Unmask Inbound Visitors.” The ebook describes the challenges marketers face when they can’t see or hear how their website visitor is reacting as he or she travels through the site. Marketo makes the point that traditionally, marketers offer generalized content to these masked visitors—referred to as top-of-funnel leads (TOFU)—in order to entice the visitor to complete a web form (I’m paraphrasing). So far, I’m with them.

The proposition of their ebook is that RTP allows marketers to track firmographic and behavioral data essentially “unmasking” the visitor so you can engage and convert them into prospects “the moment they arrive on your site.” I agree that RTP is a valuable tool. It’s the “unmasking” part that I think is abit of a stretch.

First, here’s how RTP works. It can identify the visitor’s company name based on a secret sauce that involves analyzing the visitor’s IP address. That IP address, along with other technological markers, allows you to track the visitor’s behavior throughout your site. RTP software can determine that a visitor is from a financial services company (let’s say it’s called Financial Services Inc.) located in Chicago, Illinois. RTP software will then automatically serve up the most relevant content from your site, based on one or more of those characteristics.

This is seriously powerful stuff.

With RTP in action, your visitor can’t help but feel you speak their language which will undoubtedly lead to a better impression and a higher likelihood of engagement. Marketo claims that their Real-Time Personalization solution can respond in less than 30 milliseconds, creating what seems like a magically customized experience to the visitor. Even if they overestimate the response time by 33 times, we’re still talking about a mere second for the system to assess and deliver an engaging experience! Impressive. Again, RTP is a powerful and essential capability for virtually any company to consider.

Here’s where my contention lies. RTP doesn’t so much as unmask an inbound visitor as it takes a body scan. And this isn’t an insignificant point.

Unmasking the visitor would mean you now know who they are.

RTP cannot tell you that. It can tell you useful and valuable information, but it cannot tell you the name of the person. The visitor will still need to complete a web form if you want to know who they are. In essence, RTP is a great fall-back solution to the best-case scenario, which is a completed webform–a point I’m sure Marketo would not contest.

Indeed RTP doesn’t  do any of the following:

  • It doesn’t provide the means for a salesperson to know who the visitor (person) is. Okay, I made that point.
  • It doesn’t solve this problem: an overwhelming majority of people (90%) who land on a web-form page will abandon the page without filling out the form (they will remain anonymous). I do believe that RTP will increase the chance that your visitor will complete a form and that is indeed, a very good thing.
  • It doesn’t solve the problem that you still have no means for communicating directly with the “unmasked” prospect. You’ll need for them to complete a web form to communicate directly.

With all the goodness of RTP, there remains one question. What to do about all those visitors, including those “unmasked” using RTP, who are still anonymous.

That is a 64,000 question. Perhaps even a billion dollar question. Stay tuned for the next blog where I’ll talk about a new solution that just might be the answer.

note: If you sell to IT organizations, check out DiscoverOrg’s Marketo Connector. It allows DiscoverOrg users to build a highly segmented list and with a click of a button, move that data directly into their Marketo instance.