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While personalization continues to provide an uplift to conversion rates across online and offline channels, marketers have broader strategic goals in mind for personalization, according to a Monetate study [download page]. In fact, marketers surveyed in North America and the UK tab increased customer loyalty as their top business goal for implementing personalization, with increased customer lifetime value next.

More than 7 in 10 marketers surveyed from three verticals – Financial, Travel & Hospitality, and Retail – are receiving a positive return on investment (ROI) from their personalization efforts, per the report.

The extent of that ROI differs across verticals – but appears to be most significant for Travel & Hospitality marketers, most of whom tabbed their ROI at 2- or 3-times their investment.

Data Quality Presents Greatest Challenge

Success in personalization depends greatly on the quality of the data being used. And the report indicates that as organizations become more mature in their use of personalization, organizational constraints are receding.

In fact, whereas organizational constraints were seen to be the biggest obstacle to personalization in a similar survey released by Monetate earlier this year, in this study they’re at the bottom of the list.

Of the 9 challenges identified in moving beyond segmentation to true 1-to-1 personalization, just 3% of respondents in North America cited organizational constraints as their single biggest challenge, as did only 5% of respondents in the UK. That makes organizational silos the smallest obstacle for each group of marketers.

Marketers instead now see data quality as a much greater challenge: 23% in both North America and the UK pointed to data quality as their single largest challenge.

Understanding buyer behavior in context was the #2 challenge in each region, followed by building a sustainable data architecture.

There are some differences by industry, though. For marketers in the Travel & Hospitality sector, understanding buyer behavior in context is as big of a challenge as data quality. And while data quality is the top challenge for Retail marketers, these respondents see the creation of compelling offers and content as a greater obstacle to their personalization efforts than understanding buyer behavior and building a sustainable data architecture.

Marketers Leaning More On Website Behavioral Data

Compared to its other survey, Monetate’s latest study finds a leap in the share of marketers who are using website behavioral data to support personalization efforts.

Indeed, close to 9 in 10 marketers are using website behavioral data, up from around 55%. As a result, website behavioral data is now the most-used data source to support personalization. Email activity and purchase history are the next-most used, with the latter also seeing a large bump in usage.

Not too surprisingly, Retail marketers are the most apt to make use of purchase history data, doing so at a higher rate than other marketers and other data sources. Financial marketers, for their part, rely slightly more on email activity and mobile actions than other marketers.

In its earlier research, Monetate had found that the most common ways businesses are using data to create personalized experiences include by incorporating lookalike advertising engines (87%), in-store or customer service clienteling tied to digital channel behavior (83%) and dynamic content creation/promotion generator (75%).

Other Highlights

  • Marketers in North America are twice as likely as those in the UK to say they have an advanced personalizations strategy in effect (13% and 6%, respectively).
  • Roughly half of Retail marketers report either having an advanced personalization strategy or having nearly or fully implemented a personalization strategy. That compares with slightly more than one-third of Travel & Hospitality and Financial marketers.
  • More marketers this year report having a documented personalization strategy. Retail marketers are the most apt to be making use of a documented strategy.
  • More than one-quarter of Retail marketers are already investing in machine learning technology for personalization. North American marketers are also ahead of their UK peers in this area.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 513 marketers conducted by WBR Insights. Respondents had a variety of job titles; half come from Retail companies, while one-quarter each are from Financial Services and Travel & Hospitality companies.

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