Marketers ‘missing trick with online personalisation’


Providing personalised online customer experiences is seen as vital for business performance but most marketers are stuck in the slow lane when it comes to delivering, with 3 in 4 marketers not knowing where to start, according to a new survey.

The findings from the report "The Realities of Online Personalisation," form part of independent survey conducted by Econsultancy in association with Monetate,.

In the survey of more than 1,100 digital and ecommerce professionals working for brands and agencies, 94 percent of companies agreed that "personalisation of the web experience is critical to current and future success."

Companies that reported personalising web experiences and have performance metrics in place, on average, achieved a sales uplift of 19 percent, which typically translates into hundreds of millions of dollars in additional sales for online businesses.

This assessment maps with the business success of Monetate customers, which achieved a 20 percent ecommerce revenue increase from Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, as compared to an average increase of 15 percent gained by other U.S. ecommerce sites.

However, despite widespread agreement on the benefits of personalization, 56 percent of the companies surveyed said they are not personalizing the web experience for visitors. The primary obstacle is 72 percent of marketers reported they understand the importance of personalization, but don't know where to start or how to approach it.

"It is quite clear that personalization is seen as mission critical to the success of online business but too many organizations have yet to implement a well thought-out and tested approach," said Linus Gregoriadis , Research Director at Econsultancy. "Those companies focused on delivering personalized customer experiences are realizing great returns in online sales and key website performance metrics."

Technology and Data Present Challenges for Companies

The survey examined the top issues driving online personalization, the tactics and types of data being used to tailor online customer experiences, and the barriers to success. Other key findings include:

Companies Held Back by Technology. The two most significant barriers to adopting or improving website personalisation are technology related – with just under half of companies surveyed saying IT roadblocks (47 percent) and legacy technology (46 percent) are "major barriers." According to 32 percent of organizations, lack of technology was the main obstacle preventing them from using "real-time onsite behavior to create personalized experiences."

Ability to Turn Data into Action Falling Short. Data – such as a consumer's location, device and browser – are essential to tailor and personalize customer web experiences. Despite the advantages of leveraging data sources, 72 percent of client-side organizations and 52 percent of agencies don't use real-time onsite behavior to create personalized website experiences. With the main obstacles identified as lack of technology, lack of resources and "don't know where to start."

Smartphones and Tablets too Often Overlooked. The survey uncovered a desktop bias related to online personalization, with 43 percent of companies delivering personalized desktop experiences and another 40 percent planning to do so in the next 12 months. Only 14 percent of in-house marketers indicated they are using tablets to deliver personalized experiences, with a similar proportion (13 percent) personalizing on mobile phones.

• Use of Tactics and Testing Limited. When asked which attributes are considered when creating personalized web experiences, on-site behavior (30 percent) and inbound marketing channels or traffic sources (29 percent) were the top selections – followed by geography (23 percent). Digital marketing tactics most widely used were product recommendations (42 percent), on-site search results (40 percent) and images or text (40 percent). More than half (57 percent) of companies surveyed are not running any A/B or multivariate tests.

"The digital experiences that companies present to customers have become, in most cases, the face of the brand," said John Healy , Monetate Chief Operating Officer. "The survey results overwhelmingly reveal marketers and agencies expect personalisation to improve both the customer experience and business performance. Our customers in fact have proved that this is not just theory, as brands that use Monetate to personalize their websites realized a revenue increase that was 33 percent higher than the U.S. ecommerce industry average from Q4 2011 to Q4 2012."

Read the full report here (registration required)


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