Consumers Want Personalized Messages, Marketers Not Delivering


While 66% of marketers think that they are doing an excellent or very good job at personalizing advertisements or marketing communications, only 31% of consumers report that companies are consistently doing so according to a study by Forrester.

Forrester’s paper, The Contextual Marketing Imperative (Oct. 2015) surveyed 1,200 consumers and 200 marketing professionals at large businesses.  The paper also reports the following numbers:

  • 44% of consumers say that they receive too many offers and promotions
  • 40% feel most promotions are not relevant
  • 37% delete most email offers and promotions without reading them
  • 40% have unsubscribed or opted out because of they receive too many marketing emails

So while marketers understand the value of targeted marketing, they often are not doing it well.  91% of marketers are making it a priority to use personalization to improve customer experience over the next year.

But that number may be skewed heavily by one digital channel: email.  According to a survey of 506 marketers by VentureBeat, 80% reported delivering some type of personalized message or experience via email, but the numbers drop precipitously after that.

VentureBeat’s survey goes on to show that the next highest channel where personalization is used is social media messaging at 42%.  13 of 18 digital channels including display ads, search advertising, social media advertising, ecommerce, mobile SMS, and in-app messaging had personalization rates of less than 30%.

So what can marketers do to improve the experience of consumers with personalized marketing?  Here are two suggestions:

Track more detailed data.

While this may seem obvious, VentureBeat found that even in the most personalized digital channel of email, about 50% of marketers target using 10 or less segments for personalization.  The fewer the segments used to create profiles of consumers, the less likely the marketing will truly hit home in relevance, interest or value to the recipient.

The other half of marketers used up to 100 different segments with 10% personalizing on an individual level illustrating that a much more granular breakdown is possible, leading to more personalized,  and thus effective, marketing.

Consolidate your data to get a fuller customer profile.

Forrester found that on average, marketers use 15 separate systems to store customer data.  22% of marketers used a single customer database of which 70% reported that the data was very useful in creating individual customer profiles.  Only 52% of those without a single database agreed.

Naturally, failing to consolidate the data is akin to the first point of using fewer segments – while you might have a lot of data, you only use limited amounts of it at a time.  Fewer data points lead to vague customer profiles.

While targeted marketing can help achieve better ROI, it’s important to make sure “personalized” or “targeted” is more than a label someone has tagged your ads with.  Consumers are demanding truly personalized experiences and failing to deliver risks losing their business.

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