Study: What do consumers think about personalized marketing?

Before you declare your personalized marketing efforts a success, check with your customers.
 
That is the overriding message from a global study of 1,200 consumers and 200 marketing professionals conducted in October 2015 by Forrester Consulting for hybris. The study, “The Contextual Marketing Imperative,” finds that while 66% of marketers rate their efforts at personalization as “very good” or “excellent,” just 31% of consumers report companies are consistently delivering personalized, cross-channel experiences
 
In addition, 40% of consumers say most promotions don’t deliver anything of interest, and 44% of consumers say they receive too many offers and promotions. Thus it is not surprising that 37% of consumers say they delete most email offers and promotions without reading them, while 40% have unsubscribed or opted-out because they feel overwhelmed.
 
The negative impact of poorly executed personalization goes beyond driving consumers to ignore or opt out of promotions. Among those consumers reporting less-than-satisfactory personalized experiences, 61% said they were “somewhat” or “much less likely” to take advantage of future offers
 
Because consumers are sharing so much personal data with brands, they expect value in return – namely, in the form of transactional perks and improved customer experience. While most marketers seek to improve personalized customer experiences from this customer data, the study indicates their strategies are immature and their marketing efforts are falling short in this regard.
 
Many marketers still rely on segmentation methods that target certain demographics, such as a specific age group, which hybris advises is not nearly enough to engage customers. According to the study, 70% of consumers surveyed said they are aware that companies use personal information to send them targeted offers.
 
Collection of personal information in itself is not necessarily a problem. Seventy-four of consumers are “somewhat” or “very comfortable” with companies using data about them to provide personalized experiences.

But while 66% of marketers use demographics to create targeted content offers and 44% say they use demographic categories to create at least some level of personalization for unidentified prospective customers, only about half are using more sophisticated methods, such as leveraging data extracted from loyalty programs (52%) or behavior-based data (48%).

However, marketers at least recognizing their personalization efforts could be better. Ninety-one percent of marketers surveyed are prioritizing improving customer experience through personalization over the next year.

Despite the challenges marketers face in delivering contextual experiences, some are beginning to see signs of success. The key has been in centralizing customer data to capture real-time customer intent. The following study findings support this approach:

  • While only 16% of marketers surveyed currently have the capability to capture customer intent and deliver real-time, behavior-based marketing across all channels, an emerging set of more sophisticated marketers are starting to get it right when it comes to contextualized marketing efforts.

     
  • Of the 22% of marketers surveyed who each have a single customer database, 70% reported the data they collected was “very useful” in creating a single view of the customer, compared with just 52% of those without a unified database.

     
  • Armed with this valuable data across the customer journey, these marketers are 16 to 30% more likely to incorporate real-time marketing across multiple channels.
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