New Evergage Study Shows Compelling Personalization Benefits – But Room for Improvement

Apr 25, 2017

With personalization becoming a more widely adopted marketing strategy, organizations are realizing a range of benefits – from deeper customer relationships to improved conversion rates. What’s more, 9 out of 10 marketers (88%) say their customers expect an experience, across digital properties, that’s personalized to them. Despite all this, according to a newly released, annual study from Evergage and Researchscape International, many marketers still have work to do to realize the full potential of their campaigns.

Evergage’s fourth annual study, “2017 Trends in Personalization,” conducted with Researchscape International, examined how and where marketers deliver personalized experiences to their online audiences – including benefits, challenges and more. Respondents were 206 marketing professionals at organizations of all sizes and across industries.

Marketers as a whole (96%) tout the ability of personalization to advance customer relationships. In addition, as a result of their personalization programs, marketers say they’ve:

  • Realized a measurable lift in business results (88%) – with 53% reporting a lift greater than 10%, and 10% reporting a lift greater than 30%
  • Increased conversion rates (63%)
  • Improved overall customer experience (61%)
  • Increased visitor engagement (57%)

These benefits are tangible and compelling, prompting organizations to rely even more heavily on personalization in the future. Nearly 1 in 2 marketers (46%) says their personalization budget will increase next year (up from 35% last year), while 50% say their budget will stay the same. In addition, nearly 3 out of 4 marketers (73%) think personalization should be a bigger priority in their organization, up from 64% in last year’s results.

Despite these benefits, marketers realize that many of their personalization efforts just scratch the surface of what’s possible. More than half of marketing professionals (55%) say the industry isn’t getting personalization right. And nearly 1 in 2 marketers (46%) gives their company’s personalization efforts a “C” grade or below – although that’s an improvement from 55% in last year’s study.

In addition, only 1 in 3 (33%) is “very” or “extremely” confident they have the tools they need for website or in-app personalization. Just 30% report being “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the level of personalization in their marketing efforts (with 45% noting they’re “moderately” satisfied).

Marketers say that top impediments to expanding their company’s reliance on personalization include:

  • Lack of budget (53%)
  • Lack of personnel (52%)
  • Lack of knowledge/skills (41%)
  • Access to data (34%)

As personalization has become more of a mainstream technology, the ways and channels through which it is applied have deepened as well. Findings include:

  • Channels for personalization– Marketers are using personalization in email campaigns (72%), as well as on their company’s website (57%), mobile site (28%), web app (20%) and mobile app (18%).
  • Personalization criteria– Marketers report personalizing based on visitor location (60%), demographics (56%), pages/content viewed (54%), campaign source (50%) and previous behavior (48%).
  • Types of personalization– To execute their personalization initiatives, 67% of marketers use solely rule-based personalization – that is, delivering experiences to specific groups or segments of people based on the manual creation of business rules. 13% rely exclusively on machine-learning personalization – using algorithms and predictive analytics to dynamically present recommendations and experiences at the individual level. In addition, 20% of marketers use both forms (rule-based and machine learning).
  • Machine learning on the rise– Among marketers applying just rule-based personalization, 1 in 3 (32%) plans to begin using machine-learning-driven personalization next year.
  • More personalization staff– 59% of marketers say their organizations have personnel focused on personalization (up from 57% last year and 51% in 2015); 38% say it’s a full-time responsibility for those individuals.