New Insights on Personalization – Usage, Value, and Challenges

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A few weeks ago, I published a post discussing the major findings of a survey by Dynamic Yield regarding the current state of personalization in marketing. A new study by Researchscape International (in association with Evergage) provides more valuable insights about marketers’ attitudes regarding personalizaion and current personalization challenges and practices.

The 2018 Trends in Personalization study consisted of a survey of 300 marketers and other business professionals representing nineteen industries. Ninety-three percent of the respondents held marketing related positions. Most of the respondents (93%) were located in the United States, and they represented a wide range of company sizes. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents were affiliated with pure B2B or hybrid B2B/B2C organizations.

Like several other research studies, the Researchscape survey found a widespread belief in the importance of personalization. For example, 88% of the respondents believe their prospects and customers expect a personalized experience, and 74% believe that personalization has a strong or extreme impact on advancing customer relationships.

Researchscape also found that the use of personalization is widespread. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they are using personalization in some form. About three out of four respondents (77%) are personalizing emails, and about half (52%) are personalizing websites.

Most of the marketers in this survey said their company has received value from personalization. Eighty-seven percent of the respondents reported a measurable lift from personalization, and more than half (53%) said they had experienced a lift of more than 10%.

Despite the relatively widespread use of personalization and recognition of its value, many of the marketers in this study see significant room for improvement in their personalization efforts. For example:

  • While 70% of they study respondents were slightly or moderately satisfied with their level of personalization, only 12% were very or extremely satisfied, and 18% were not satisfied at all.
  • Nearly half of the respondents (46%) gave themselves a grade of “C” on their personalization efforts.
  • Over half of the respondents (52%) rated their personalization maturity level as limited, and another 33% rated their maturity level as moderate.
Having the right data is essential for effective personalization, and many of the marketers in this study see data-related issues as a major challenge. For example, more than half of the respondents (55%) do not believe they have sufficient data and insights to personalize content and messaging. 
Marketers at B2B and hybrid B2B/B2C companies appear to face greater data challenges. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed marketers in B2B companies, and 60% in hybrid B2B/B2C companies don’t believe they have sufficient data and insights, compared to only 39% of respondents in pure B2C companies.
The problem is not the complete absence of data, but the lack of centralized data. Nearly half of the respondents (48%) said they store their customer and prospect data in four or more systems. This fragmentation of data may help explain why many marketers find true omnichannel personalization to be challenging. In this survey, only 27% of respondents reported having half or more of their marketing channels connected. Forty-six percent of the respondents said they have “a few” of their channels connected.
Finally, Researchscape found that B2B and hybrid B2B/B2C companies are less aggressive than pure B2C companies at adopting new personalization technologies. For example, among those respondents not currently using machine learning to support personalization, 26% of B2B respondents, and 49% of hybrid B2B/B2C respondents said they would begin using machine learning in the coming year, compared to 55% of B2C respondents.
Illustration courtesy of John Bonham via Flickr CC.

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