Personalization Proves Problematic Despite Data Investments

Marketers must close the loop on data-driven initiatives by bringing improved customer insights to action.

Marketers have become the hunters and gatherers of the business world, as many seek to assemble large amounts of consumer information in pursuit of deeper customer understanding. Yet, while data solutions allow these foragers to collect an array of insights, many fail to apply this information to drive effective personalization.

Infogroup's recent "Big Data's Big Payday" report investigates how data-driven initiatives have altered the marketing space as related investments approach the ROI tipping point in 2015. The survey, which polled 591 marketers during the 2014 Direct Marketing Association's annual conference, highlights that, though data-driven marketing has become the norm, most marketers crave more data, as they strive to better inform future multichannel campaigns. While many expect their years-long investments to pay off within the year, many still struggle to convert customer insight into actionable intelligence.

The following statistics examine how data-related investments have impacted the marketing ecosystem, and the primary obstacles impeding personalized campaigns today:

  • Sixty-two percent of those surveyed have started investing in data solutions, as opposed to 54 percent in 2013, while 26 percent plan to invest in such solutions within the next two years.
  • Overall, 47 percent of marketers have seen positive ROI with regard to their data solutions, while 15 percent expect these data investments to pay off for the first time in 2015.
  • While 64 percent of marketers anticipate their data-related budgets to increase in 2015, 4 percent expect spending to decrease. However, nearly 80 percent of marketers are preparing to take additional steps to protect customer data and privacy.
  • Data analysis (21 percent), data application (16 percent), and data collection (15 percent) remain the biggest data-related challenges facing marketers in 2015. Yet, while 53 percent of marketers believe they don't collect enough customer data, 10 percent say they collect too much. Only 21 percent are very confident in the accuracy and completeness of their customer profiles.
  • Marketers rely heavily on customer purchase history (48 percent) and third-party lists (44 percent) as primary sources for customer data, but most overlook digital data sources, such as browsing history (16 percent) and social media posting (12 percent).
  • More than 60 percent of those polled use data to implement personalized email and direct mail campaigns, yet less than 20 percent customize messaging for print, display, or mobile offers, and 46 percent rarely or never customize messaging for each channel based on data insights.
  • Customized offers are the most popular sort of personalized campaign (52 percent), as marketers typically rely on names (55 percent) and demographic information (53 percent) to tailor their campaigns. Few use transaction triggers (24 percent), brand interactions (19 percent), and event triggers (17 percent) to influence their campaigns.

Key takeaway: Marketers believe the difficultly of integrating solutions across channels (40 percent), lack of quality customer data for segmentation (35 percent), and fragmented systems (32 percent) impede the ability to customize subsequent messaging. Because marketers struggle to incorporate data from multiple streams and distribute campaigns across numerous channels, companies must actively attempt to analyze and apply data consistently to achieve positive ROI and increase engagement and loyalty. Personalization requires the ability to cultivate an ideal single view of each customer. Therefore, marketers must ensure that their data hygiene efforts also support internal initiatives, for these practices are closely tied to the organization's capacity to maintain complete customer profiles. Ultimately, accurate records will improve insight into customer interests and behaviors, thereby enabling customization and consistency across all available touchpoints.