Personalized and Profitable

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Analysts and pundits like to talk about the importance of providing customers with personalized experiences. On paper, it sounds great. But in the real world, it's easier said than done, particularly for enterprise organizations that have tens of thousands of customers.

Analysts and pundits like to talk about the importance of providing customers with personalized experiences. On paper, it sounds great. But in the real world, it's easier said than done, particularly for enterprise organizations that have tens of thousands of customers.Now, a new study finds that companies that are providing customers with personalized experiences are seeing a positive effect on business outcomes.

According to a study released this week by EPiServer, 34 percent of respondents say personalized campaigns have delivered "highly effective and measurable ROI." Meanwhile, 14 percent of the respondents say they've seen better response rates from personalized campaigns than mass-market delivery approaches such as print, TV, newspaper, and billboard ads.

The survey was conducted with CEOs, Vice Presidents, Directors, and marketing managers representing more than 100 organizations at the 2011 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

To some degree, technological advances are making it possible for companies to craft tailored campaigns and channel experiences for customers. But apparently there's a lot of room for improvement.

Sixty percent of the respondents in the EPiServer study rated current personalization software as either "satisfactory," "poor," or "very poor." Although the study doesn't speak to specific shortcomings in the functionality of personalization software, it does point out that "a key challenge is integration, a single view of the customer data across multiple digital channels." In fact, while 34 percent of the respondents say that personalized campaigns have delivered measurable ROI, another 45 percent say the ROI from personalized customer communications would be better with more relevant data.

So what are the key takeaways from this study? For me, it seems that, as an industry, we're beginning to make some inroads with respect to providing customers with personalized, relevant experiences. But we're relatively early stage with this, at least on a broad scale. And if decision-makers are holding out hopes of being able to craft more individualized experiences for customers, then they're going to need more help from technology providers.

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EXPERT OPINION