What is holding back marketers’ personalization efforts?

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May 05, 2017
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MarketingCharts staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

A survey of digital marketers by Evergage found that e-mail (72 percent) and websites (57 percent) are the only channels in which a majority of respondents are using personalization.

Far fewer respondents from the 206 organizations interviewed across businesses have cracked the code for mobile websites (28 percent), web apps (20 percent) or mobile apps (18 percent).

Meanwhile, personalization experiences remain fairly limited. E-mail campaigns are the most common type of personalized experience, used by almost two-thirds of marketers. Home pages (58 percent) and recommendations (58 percent) are also fairly popular areas of personalization, while half are personalizing interior pages. Given that website content personalization is considered quite difficult, these could be seen as encouraging results.

Again, however, there’s less uptick in other areas: fewer than one-third are personalizing navigation (29 percent), search (27 percent), pricing (22 percent), videos (18 percent) or sorting (16 percent).

Overall, more than half of marketing professionals (55 percent) said the industry isn’t getting personalization right. And nearly half (46 percent) gave their company’s personalization efforts a “C” grade or below — although that’s an improvement from 55 percent in last year’s study.

Other findings from the survey:

  • As a result of personalization programs, marketers say they’ve realized a measurable lift in business results (88 percent), increased conversion rates (63 percent), improved overall customer experience (61 percent) and increased visitor engagement (57 percent).
  • Marketers report personalizing based on location (60 percent), demographics (56 percent) pages/content viewed (54 percent), campaign source (50 percent), previous behavior (48 percent), persona (46 percent) and stage of customer journey (42 percent).
  • Nearly half (46 percent) says their personalization budget will increase next year (up from 35 percent last year), while 50 percent said their budget will stay the same.
  • Only one in three were “very” or “extremely” confident they have the tools they need for website or in-app personalization. One-third are using machine learning, more than double last year’s proportion.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are marketers improving their efforts to personalize e-mail and website experiences? What are the main hurdles standing in the way of mobile personalization?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Personalization is valuable and important — but incredibly oversold as well."
"It’s not clear that personalization works and it’s not clear that shoppers want intrusive personalization (or any personalization, for that matter)."
"The main problem retailers have with personalization is that they don’t do an effective job with their CRM..."

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13 Comments on "What is holding back marketers’ personalization efforts?"


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Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

The daily emails I get from retailers are sent to me by name, but that doesn’t make them personalized. I’d be interested to hear what kinds of personalized offers consumers are getting.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

I see two hurdles — it’s not clear that personalization works and it’s not clear that shoppers want intrusive personalization (or any personalization, for that matter). For the most part we, the industry, have assumed that this is a good idea with little research to back that up. We keep on seeing studies that say shoppers are not using their smartphones in grocery stores for shopping (FMI, POPAI) — maybe this isn’t a thing.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Marketers and their media planning/buying agencies are struggling in particular with audience targeting when they are narrowcasting to location-based displays. The principles of “long-tail” targeting in broadcast media apply, but too often these ideal audiences, including those visiting in-store, are seen as too small to merit targeting these highly contextual and relevant audiences. This same inadequacy is shown in day-parting and aligning with days of the month, events and special promotional opportunities (i.e., reference to staff, sales, etc.) where the capabilities of dynamic place-based media can easily be executed. The transition from mass advertising to an audience of many to an audience of a few — let alone an audience of one — needs support from VP’s of marketing.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
2 years 8 months ago

Personalization is valuable and important — but incredibly oversold as well.

How much impact could a perfectly personalized program have? We first have to understand the limits of personalization. Data doesn’t reveal the personal — merely what we have done and some bits about the life and household that surrounds us. That means it leaves hidden (at least to algorithms) vast areas of our lives that may be the most important influences on shopping.

To look at the limits of personalization, we need look no further than Amazon. Amazon has the most highly-developed system for learning about their customers along with massive historical data to focus it. Yet Amazon can’t seem to recommend a book or movie to me, or a product, that is surprising and interesting.

My conclusion, then, is personalization is important — but it is no panacea for retail challenges. It’s a very small impact within the total system. That also means we should limit our resource investment to its realistic impact.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Doug, your love of TV is showing through! (Readers should click to see your bio). Mass media has value for brand awareness but its power to move the needle at the point of purchase lacks the recency (time plus location) that is so impactful to product selection.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
2 years 8 months ago
Interesting prejudice you have there. We might mount TV campaigns that drive immediate action. We’ve driven 2.4 M units of new product in 2 months through retail. And last fall, TV impact in the store (near term impact) was as good as it was 10 years ago. This happens because we are specialists in driving immediate retail action by using products. Our ads are uniquely product focused — leveraging innovation to drive immediate action. It’s very different work in impact because most TV starts with brand advertising assumptions. Those assumptions make it weak at immediate action and strong for the long term. Most retailers see their only alternative being promotional campaigns. And price drives immediate action — but doesn’t build value. We believe we’ve hit a unique middle with our focus on ads that bring consumer to the point of “I’ve gotta get one of those.” I’m quite proud of what we do. And the impact in the store starts the first week we go on air. All this merely to clarify … most of… Read more »
Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust

Marketers are absolutely improving efforts, but as efforts increase so does the consumer’s filter. As Cathy mentioned, we are already immune to “personalized” emails that address us by name. Because of this, marketers need to stay up on new technology for their personalization investments to have an impact.

Personalized recommendations, on the other hand, keep marketing relevant by offering customers competitive pricing on the products they actually buy. I’d choose a relevant message over obnoxious name recitation any day.

Nir Manor
BrainTrust

Personalized communications and personalized offers create value both for retailers and consumers. Research supports the fact that consumers are generally interested in more customized and relevant offers from retailers they shop with. This can be seen in two recent surveys: “CEO Viewpoint 2017: The Transformation of Retail by JDA” and “POI — Personalized Offers: The Cure for Tired, Ineffective Promotions.”

I believe the main hurdles for better personalization (addressing the consumer by his or her name doesn’t really count as personalization … ) are poor data quality and the lack of adoption of advance marketing automation tools that would allow for effective mass personalization.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I am seeing some tangible results today for a very few retailers that are committing to real-time personalization campaigns. 1-800-Flowers.com, The North Face Expert Personal Shopper and Staples are all having some good successes with personalization. The first hurdle is believing that personalization is worth the time and effort. The next is understanding the technologies available today that can be leveraged to deliver exactly what you have in mind. These new technologies employ cognitive, machine learning capabilities that take shopper data and literally become “smarter” as more and more data is captured. This stuff is real, and the true innovators are making it work.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

True personalization is giving me the content that is relevant to me. It’s more than using my name. It’s information and promotions that are based on my buying patterns, past purchases and more. The main problem retailers have with personalization is that they don’t do an effective job with their CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The right information about the customer has to be there before you can start to segment them into the right groups of customers.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

The promise of using collected data to serve up personalized promotions and offers has been on the table for many years. In the name of being more “relevant” with customers, marketers have too often relied on machine methods that only partially hit the mark, leaving the promise unfulfilled.

Using retargeting methods to serve up offers online, and geo-targeting to ping consumers in the vicinity of brick and mortar locations demonstrates to consumers they are being tracked. Unfortunately, these methods also communicate that tracking is imprecise and therefore insincere.

Marketers would be well served to ask consumers directly about their preferences and interests. The qualitative data collected would illustrate a more clear understanding of customers by the brands that chase them and serve up offers that will map more closely to their stated interests.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Personalization is not easy. There are plenty of studies showing consumers want a personalized experience (most of the time) but executing this successfully, without feeling intrusive, while creating a trusted relationship with the customer is still a challenge for retail marketers. Trust is key, and just using someone’s name in an email greeting does not create trust.

In-store personalization mechanisms are more complex than online versions and most retailers have clearly not mastered this yet. For many, they should start with associate training to deliver a great experience and then move into layering technology into the mix.

Steve Johnson
Guest

The trouble is marketers and a lack of understanding as to exactly what personalisation is … and what it can achieve. There is also a problem with data. There’s too much of it and much of what is used is flawed. The key principle of success with “personalisation” is accuracy. That’s a level of detail alien to traditional marketers and counter productive for large consultancies and data vendors to acknowledge.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Personalization is valuable and important — but incredibly oversold as well."
"It’s not clear that personalization works and it’s not clear that shoppers want intrusive personalization (or any personalization, for that matter)."
"The main problem retailers have with personalization is that they don’t do an effective job with their CRM..."

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