Personalization is this year’s top digital priority by B2C marketers, according to eConsultancy’s Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing published in January.
Marketers expect personalization to be the third most exciting opportunity in five years (after customer experience and multichannel campaign management).
Top Digital Priorities 2014: Targeting and Personalization
Participants of the Adobe-sponsored roundtable conversations varied in experience from those who are doing little to nothing to those that are doing quite sophisticated segmented targeting based on context or past behavior. However, none felt they were at the point of personalizing one-to-one.
The definition of personalization varies from person to person and company to company. As Ashley Friedlein wrote in his blog post on the rise of context for customizing digital experiences, there are good opportunities to tailor the customer experience based on context such as location, device (mobile versus desktop), time or day and even weather.
Participants at the roundtable confirmed this loose definition of personalization. The level of personalization on websites of those participating in the roundtables varied from basic geo-targeting to recommendations based on past purchase behavior to advanced segmentation.
The challenges most frequently raised by participants included migration from legacy systems, skill gaps, data management, the technology behind personalization (including recommendation engines, content management systems and campaign attribution software) and for those just getting started – where to start!
The most common form of personalization was in email marketing and was said to be the easiest place to start.
It is easier to control the email content and landing pages and there are fewer departmental silos involved. ROI is also easily measured, making it easier to allocate future resources.
Some participants were using behavioral and past purchase data to fuel recommendation engines. There was much discussion as to the effectiveness of these engines.
Those further along the personalization journey were exploring displaying personalized website content, beyond just recommending additional products based on past purchases.
There was a strong desire to hear best practices and successes in personalization. Participants lamented the promised increases in ROI from vendors and came in search of real world success stories.
Some success stories and best practices were shared including a bank using life-change triggers such as change of address to serve personalized website content.
The Outnet’s emails showing offers available in the consumer’s size were also heralded. Amazon’s recommendations received mixed reviews. In particular, many expressed frustration with the lack of relevance based on past gift purchases.
Firms are looking to improve personalization based on advanced segmentation. There is a desire to align content management systems with individual purchases to personalize the content displayed on the home page.
Participants seemed to feel that they were doing a good job with personalizing email campaigns. The next step is to personalize website content and the web experience.
Data and organizational silos seemed to be the biggest challenges to personalization as well as a feeling that if one goes to far, the damage could be huge. One participant asked: Do you only show clothing in size six and risk offending customers who’ve gone up a size?
2014 should be the year when personalization really takes hold. Email, social, marketing communications, mobile, in store and web experiences should become much more integrated and much more focused on the individual.
It seems that retailers have been pushing fastest and hardest on this but banks, telcos, media businesses, and travel companies are catching up.-eConsultancy
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