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Personalisation: A perpetual game of catch-up for marketers?

26th Aug 2014
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Salesforce ExactTarget and Forrester’s study, ‘Refresh Your Approach To 1:1 Marketing’ paints a pretty somber picture about the modern marketers’ understanding of how to deliver personalisation.

Despite an inherent appreciation of the benefits of offering more 'personalised' marketing (according to the research, 84% of marketers believe that personalisation directly impacts customer retention and loyalty), an issue seemingly remains about how to actually provide this type of experience. 48% of marketers say they “face challenges in personalising each customer interaction”, and as a result, plan to increase their budgets to try and solve the problem.

Part of the concern appears to be around keeping up with consumer behaviour changes. The study suggests “a dichotomy exists between marketers’ desire to be predictive and [their] lack of real-time technologies and capabilities”; i.e. marketers see the challenge in meeting expectations of the modern customer, but don’t have the right techniques, technology and metrics to rise to it.

“Many companies recognise the promise of strategies that track and personalise real-time interactions: to strengthen customer relationships by addressing and anticipating unique customer needs,” the report states.

“But their reliance on traditional channels, disparate data sources, and batch-based campaigns leaves them in a perpetual game of catch-up.”

The study also suggests that the “data deluge” many marketers are currently facing up to is actually proving to be a hindrance to personalisation, rather than an assistance. It states that the growing collection of profile, preference, behavioural and environmental data can often leave marketers feeling “paralysed” because they struggle to understand the strategies required to make data actionable.  

Analytics streams of digital data and applying insights to improve customer experiences in particular stymie the digital marketers we surveyed,” the report states, leading marketers into “best-guess” personalisation, as a result.


So what to do to ensure you’re following the right path towards delivering more personalised experiences? Forrester recommends three key points that helpe readdress the very premise of what you are personalising:

  1. Reframe personalisation as a way to turn browsers into buyers.
    “Returning customers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from personalisation. Companies can use known preferences and behaviors or existing customers to build lookalike proxies for targeting prospects. Recognising the broader potential of personalisation elevates its profile within the organisation.”
  2. Elevate access to in-motion data.
    “The static data that customers provide through profiles, preferences, and past transactions helps organisations build out rules-based personalisation. But to be truly impactful, companies must also take into account ongoing interactions and clicks across channels. Currently, less than half of marketers surveyed collect this data on a daily basis. To achieve this, companies should move social (43% collect daily), affinity (38%), response (32%), and interaction data (28%) closer (in time and proximity) to where it is applied.
  3. Enlist technology to help you automate the ability to make decisions based on behaviour.
    “Understanding the customer journey across digital touchpoints is a top five challenge for survey respondents. Firms cannot possibly design business rules to cover every combination of customer interaction and behaviour. Combining predictive modeling, decision management, and real-time interaction tools helps organisations anticipate behaviour, manage interactions as they happen, and deliver real-time personalisation in context.” 

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