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Some 71% of organizations – primarily based in the UK and Europe – undertake some form of personalization in their marketing activity, according to the latest Optimization Report [download page] (previously Conversion Rate Optimization Report) from Econsultancy and RedEye Optimisation. That 71% represents an uptick from 62% last year, and is the highest level reported by client-side respondents in at least 5 years.

Agency respondents reported an even greater uptake: 79% said their clients undertake some form of personalization in their marketing activity, up from 73% last year and 60% in 2014.

8 in 10 See Results

It’s unlikely that the use of personalization will decline, judging by the high rate of success ascribed to these efforts. Fully 8 in 10 company respondents said they’ve experienced an uplift since implementing personalization.

Among those seeing results, roughly one-quarter have enjoyed an uplift of more than 10%, including almost one-fifth whose uplift exceeded 20%.

Email’s Still the Most Common Personalization Channel

Although more companies are undertaking various forms of personalization, these efforts continue to largely be limited to email. Among those companies that use personalization, more than three-quarters said they do so through email.

Websites are the next-most common channel for personalization, but only 42% are personalizing their websites, likely as these efforts are more difficult to execute.

The results generally align with a separate survey of marketers released earlier this year. In their 2018 Trends in Personalization report, Evergage and Researchscape International found that slightly more than three-quarters (77%) of marketers were personalizing their email marketing, while about half (52%) personalized their websites.

Website Personalization Linked to Browsing Behavior

Among the few company marketers who are personalizing their website content (and recognizing that this is a small sample), the results indicate that the main data sources used are web pages/categories browsed, transactions, and products browsed (on the website).

The analysts point out that virtually all data sources for website content personalization have declined in use this year from last. This could be a function of differing samples, a small sample size this year, or the influence of the GDPR earlier this year.

Rising Interest in Social Media Personalization?

Interestingly, the percentage of company respondents personalizing both email and websites appears to have declined this year from last. But while that’s the case, some of the lesser-used personalization vehicles may be gaining interest.

This year, for example, almost one-third (32%) of company respondents reported engaging in social media personalization, up from 27% last year. And while relatively few personalize SMS, this year’s figure (22%) represents a slight uptick from last year’s report (17%).

Testing Only Works Sometimes

A key aspect of optimization is experimentation: fully 83% of company respondents say they ran at least one optimization experiment in the past year, with the largest share (43%) running between 1 and 10 tests.

But while 9 in 10 company respondents plan to increase the number of experiments they run over the coming year, they may be better suited to focusing on quality rather than quantity.

That’s because a large share of these tests fail to produce a clear “winner.” For about half (52%) of respondents, only between 1 and 30% of the experiments they ran had a clear and statistically significant winner. Another 1 in 10 respondents said none of their experiments produced a winner.

On average, companies reported that 35% of their tests produced a clear winner, with agencies not faring much better (39%).

Analytics Produce the Best Insights

Company respondents clearly have an idea about which source of insight is most valuable to them, and that’s analytics. Two-thirds (66%) see this quantitative source of data as their most valuable source in terms of insights, ahead of user research (35%) and customer journey mapping (33%). Not surprisingly given the topic of research, instincts are far less valued as a source of insights (although decision-makers continue to rely on intuition as well as hard data).

Just 2% of company respondents, meanwhile, feel that suggestions from the boss or the highest paid person in the office (HIPPO) are among their most valuable sources of insight. And while the most senior person tends to have the most influence when prioritizing experiments, company respondents also said that is the least valuable source of insight.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 456 respondents, 62% of whom are client-side marketers and 38% who are agencies, vendors or consultants. Respondents come from a mix of industries and company sizes.

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