In a post-Amazon, increasingly online ecosystem, personalization has become a key feature for online consumer-facing companies (and for their marketing teams).
Leveraging the data afforded by the online shift in retail can allow businesses to drive deeper understanding of consumer bases, improve customer relationships and boost conversion rates along the way.
Evergage, as a personalization platform provider, understands what personalization can bring to a brand’s online experience. PYMNTS has covered this company before in retail enablers, diving into its work across industry verticals to enable websites and other digital channels to build out a personalized navigation experience for users.
Recently, Evergage released the results of a survey conducted with Researchscape International that looks into adoption trends and attitudes toward personalization across industries. The results illustrate the current state of the personalization ecosystem as it stands today — where and how personalization is leveraged, how businesses are benefiting, and where there’s still room for improvement.
Evergage CMO Andrew Zimmerman, for one, pointed to the fact that in today’s increasingly online world, marketers have found themselves at a crossroads: “For most marketers, personalization is no longer on their wish-lists — it has become a must-have.”
This is reflected in a few ways in Evergage’s findings.
First, 96 percent of survey respondents agree that, at a high level, personalization helps to advance customer relationships. Likewise, 88 percent believe that their prospects and customers have come to expect a personalized experience across digital properties.
In perhaps the most telling trend, more respondents indicated that they believed personalization should be a greater point of focus for their organizations than in last year’s results — 73 percent this year versus 64 percent last year.
Likewise, 46 percent of marketers responded that they plan to increase their budget for personalization in the next year, up from 35 percent from last year’s findings.
Given the benefits respondents reported, it’s easy to see why personalization is in such high demand. For instance, 88 percent reported that marketing results saw a measurable lift when leveraging personalization—with 53 percent reporting a lift greater than 10 percent. Leveraging personalization features was also found to increase conversion rates and visitor engagement and worked to improve customer experience.
As to which channels are the most popular for personalization, Evergage has found that email was the most widely personalized out of the marketing channels as well as the most popular form of marketing campaign type. Across businesses, mobile apps were the channel which saw the lowest use of personalization tactics.
Marketers reported personalizing experiences and campaigns based on a number of data points including user location, demographics, pages/content viewed, campaign source and previous behavior. As these data points have become more numerous and accessible, Evergage’s survey found that organizations have begun to shift away from delivering personalization initiatives with manually created rules. More than in previous years, marketers are leveraging machine learning and predictive analytics.
And within the next year, 1 in 3 respondents who used rule-based personalization had plans to begin to leverage machine-learning capabilities within the next year. This movement signals, said Zimmerman, both how far the personalization space has come and where it’s headed.
“From delivering one-to-many communications, targeted at broad groups to being able to present relevant experiences at the individual level,” he said. “For many companies, this is the future: spot-on, 1:1 interactions in real time, across digital channels, that take an individual’s previous and in-the-moment actions into account for a complete picture of their identity, interests and intent.”
Zimmerman noted that while this push toward greater personalization is a positive step, engaging in the space comes with the responsibility to deliver. While barriers to entry are being broken down, he said, the survey found that challenges still remain.
More than half of marketing professionals reported that the industry isn’t getting personalization right. And nearly some 46 percent gave gives their company’s personalization efforts a grade of “C” grade or below. Likewise, only about a third are confident they have the necessary personalization tools.
Because despite the benefits, there are still issues blocking the way. Notably, lack of budget (53 percent), personnel (52 percent), skills and knowledge (41 percent) as well as insufficient access to the necessary data (34 percent).
Still, the changes from last year’s numbers indicate improvement. For organizations looking to break into personalization, or to grow their ongoing efforts, these challenges are becoming less insurmountable as technology solution providers roll out capabilities to better enable the space.
“Personalization capabilities are increasingly accessible from both a cost and usability perspective, and marketers no longer have to be reliant on IT,” Zimmerman noted in closing. “A comprehensive personalization platform should make it easy to collect and act on customer data across channels and platforms to deliver tailored, relevant experiences within milliseconds.”