Why Marketers Aren’t Making The Most Of Personalization — And How To Change That

  • Written by Paula Crerar, Evergage
  • Published in Demanding Views

Paula CrerarPersonalization as a marketing tactic is approaching mainstream usage. A recent survey conducted by Evergage and Researchscape International found that 85% of marketers are implementing some form of personalization already, and 89% of companies using website and in-app personalization report positive, measurable results.

The survey also revealed that marketers have a long way to go before they reach their full potential with personalization: Only 18% of marketers surveyed are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the level of personalization in their marketing efforts, and more than half (55%) give themselves a grade of C or lower for personalization.

So, what’s going on? Why aren’t marketers happier with their efforts? There are several reasons marketers aren’t using personalization to its full potential yet.

Underdeveloped Strategy

Personalization is not a tactic to use only when you think of it or something to use in just one channel. Done well, personalization should be a core element to the overall customer experience across channels and touch points.

Unfortunately, it seems as though marketers are not quite there yet. When asked which channels they were using for personalization, 67% of marketers said email. Websites followed at 56% and mobile trailed behind,­ with mobile web at 27% and mobile apps at 20%.

Email personalization is a great place to start, but that’s only scratching the surface. Personalization must become a core component of strategy across multiple channels.

Using Basic Criteria To Match Visitors To Experiences

Most marketers are using criteria such as page or content viewed, geolocation and demographics to determine what messages, content or products to recommend to their web visitors. Yet the criteria that provides the best insights for a personalized experience is individual preferences, intent and time on page.

Marketers need to dig deeper and use more sophisticated behavioral analytics to uncover a visitor’s true intent and respond “in the moment” with laser-focused messaging and experiences that drive higher levels of engagement and ultimately, conversion.

Lack Of Resources

Of the marketers who are implementing personalization, 64% believe it should be a bigger priority in their organizations. Lack of budget, personnel and knowledge/skills are cited as the top obstacles blocking marketers from prioritizing personalization.

Until marketers are able to acquire the resources needed to execute their personalization strategies, they will not be able to make personalization a higher priority within their teams and organizations.

Too Many Solutions

Finally, even when marketers have a comprehensive strategy and the resources to support it, we often see that they’re using too many solutions to accomplish a common goal.

When one solution is used for email personalization, another for exit messages, a different one for product or content recommendations, and another for analytics, the marketer is forced to view each of these tactics in isolation and is not able to incorporate each of these experiences into one journey. Until marketers are able to link separate tactics together, sync personalization systems with other data sources (CRM, marketing automation, data warehouses, etc.) and think about the broader implications on the customer journey, they will not be able to reach their full potential.

The highest-performing marketers are incorporating personalization into their overall customer experience and are always thinking about how they can personalize the entire journey. From bringing visitors to their sites, engaging them while they are there, encouraging conversions — and even tailoring the experience in their products — personalization factors into each stage.

Looking Ahead

As personalization technology evolves, enabling marketers to get more sophisticated without relying on developers, marketers are dipping their toes in the water — but not diving in. The good news is that they’re doing the right thing: starting with a few basic personalization campaigns, learning and iterating before they advance to full one-on-one personalization.

We’ll continue to observe the adoption trends in 2016, and by next year, we expect to see more marketers master the basics and reach the next level of personalization.

Paula Crerar is VP of Content Marketing and Programs at Evergage, where she’s responsible for driving thought leadership, brand awareness and conversions. She has 25 years of experience developing and managing content marketing and go-to-market strategies at leading tech firms, including Brainshark,, Dragon Systems and Lotus Development. Paula earned an MBA from Babson College and a BS in management from Boston College.