Merkle’s Customer Engagement Report Finds 86% of Marketers Have Defined Budgets for Personalization, Gap Remains for Optimal Data Usage


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Q4 2019 report identifies opportunities for marketers to improve personalization efforts

Columbia, MD — November 5, 2019 — Merkle (, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, has released the newest addition to its quarterly report centered around customer relationship management. The Q4 2019 Customer Engagement Report features original research and insights into how marketers can use data to achieve personalization. The report highlights results from Merkle’s survey of more than 200 marketers at major North American brands across industries including retail, high-tech, financial, travel, media and entertainment, health, and nonprofit.

“Our research aims to identify clear steps for brands to evolve from being good at personalization to being great,” said Yara Lutz, senior vice president of CRM at Merkle. “In this report, we dig into the types of data that can enable personalization and the emerging tools and techniques that will drive ongoing improvements for customer engagement.”

In Q4, marketers overwhelmingly report that they have the budgets, toolsets, and structures in place to drive personalized experiences across channels. According to Merkle’s research, 86% of marketers have a defined budget to execute personalized messaging and 82% of marketers have toolsets to prioritize and coordinate personalized experiences across channels. Additionally, the report shows that 89% of brands have an organizational structure to execute a personalized multi-channel marketing plan.

Despite having the budget, necessary tools, and organizational structure in place, Merkle’s report reveals some critical gaps. For example, the report shows that third-party customer demographics were used in the email channel by 70% of respondents, in digital media by just 40%, and in site by less than 30%. First-party customer profile and order history data are the most readily available, yet only 35% to 45% of survey participants indicate using this data across channels. Additionally, 28% report that their brand messaging is based on one-to-one behavior triggers, revealing tremendous potential for improved results.

Loyalty is also examined within the report, showcasing similar trends to CRM with 81% of marketers reporting having defined loyalty programs. In terms of strategy, 70% of respondents use points-based tactics, while only 35% use surprise-and-delight tactics, which involve unexpectedly rewarding customers with incentives, based on certain behaviors. Only 14% of respondents use none of these tactics.

“Our report strives to help marketers meet customer expectations through the use of data and personalization. Brands need to operate with the most current set of information about their customers and make the path to purchase fast and frictionless,” said Matt Seeley, EVP, technology services at Merkle. “Our survey results this quarter show that, while most marketers have embraced personalization, they are only using a fraction of available data to drive customer experiences. This research can help marketers to hone in on what data and tactics will help grow their brand and ultimately result in positive business outcomes.”

Merkle’s Q4 Customer Engagement Report provides advice on strategies marketers can implement to better incorporate data into their CRM and loyalty programs to drive customer engagement. Brand examples that have leveraged data for personalization successfully are showcased to further illustrate the benefits. Examples include a leading athletic apparel brand using its loyalty program and a data-based approach for a more targeted customer experience, as well as a major automotive manufacturer employing analytics and audience targeting to deliver relevant messages to customers across channels.

For more information, and to download the full report visit here.


The insights in this report were developed from a September 2019 survey conducted by Ugam, a Merkle Company, of 200 marketers at major North American brands. Respondents spanned industries including retail, consumer goods, high-tech, financial, travel, media, and entertainment, health, insurance, and nonprofit.

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