Customer Journey Personalization Is Pie in the Sky

Marketers know personalization must reach beyond the average individualized campaign, but few can successfully personalize across the entire customer journey.
Customer Experience

Personalization has evolved from novelty to necessary, causing marketers to reassess their engagement strategies at every turn. But transforming expectation into reality isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Effective personalization requires deep understanding of individual customers in order to deliver experiences that are highly relevant, timely, and tailored for specific people. Yet, while marketers can envision the ideal, most still struggle to bring such strategies to fruition. The CMO Council's recent "Making Personalization Possible" report explores the current marketing landscape to determine what's being done-and what still needs to be done-to attain the desired level of personalization.

Conducted in partnership with Microsoft, researchers polled more than 170 senior marketing decision-makers to gauge their mindsets and perceptions. Overall, respondents recognize that personalization must reach beyond the average individualized campaign by focusing on the individual customers themselves, but few can successfully personalize across the entire customer journey. Here are some key findings that illustrate the present state of the marketing space:

  • Only 14 percent of marketers are able to personalize across the entire customer journey. Most marketers can personalize in select channels, yet they struggle to properly align data to personalize on a consistent and meaningful level (36 percent). Twenty-one percent deliver one-on-one relationships online and off.
  • Despite a large inability to personalize, marketers have begun to better tie engagements to business impact, focusing on retention (69 percent) and acquisition (62 percent) rate improvements over more traditional metrics, such as clicks, views, and open rates (59 percent). Customer lifetime value (53 percent), upsell and cross-sell engagements (53 percent), and customer satisfaction surveys (52 percent) also play an integral role in measuring success.
  • While 37 percent of marketers think effective personalization requires the ability to draw from one single source of customer truth, 29 percent believe an omnichannel approach that's ready to engage customers with the right content via the right channel at the right time holds the key to successful personalization.
  • Forty-nine percent of respondents are 'hopefully optimistic' and 26 percent are 'totally confident' that an omnichannel, personalized experience will deliver the impact and yield that marketing has anticipated.
  • New metrics enable marketers to better tie experience investments and campaigns to business results, as well. While 40 percent say they're slowly evolving, 24 percent are doing moderately well with regard to connecting digital to business, and 10 percent claim all measurements already tie back to business impact.
  • When it comes to adopting the strategies and solutions necessary to accelerate personalization, analytics and lifecycle management (49 percent), personalization platforms (47 percent), comprehensive journey mapping (44 percent), predictive analytics (41 percent), and social listening (41 percent) will dominate.

Key takeaway: As customer centricity becomes marketers' primary focal point, many are putting experience ahead of campaigns, with the intention of driving personalization at the individual level. However, as the CMO Council notes, this approach requires marketers to redefine customer voice and how it's leveraged throughout the organization. They can no longer focus solely on marketing data about consumer behaviors. Instead, marketers must turn the entire customer relationship into one comprehensive, enterprisewide vision of customer truth. Ultimately, experience and personalization are intertwined, creating a complex web of touchpoints and data that must account for all interactions-past, present, and future. One-off campaigns will no longer suffice, as all communications must take the entire customer journey into account in order to foster long-term satisfaction and engagement. Customers want to be treated like the individuals they are, and improved personalization will inevitably enable marketers to cater to each person's preferences in an effective, timely, and relevant fashion.