Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Australian marketers are increasingly looking to personalise customer interactions but lack a good grasp on the data sets necessary to trigger significant gains as well as fear consumer privacy backlash, new research claims.
According to the The Role and Use of Personalisation report, produced by First Point Consulting for Sitecore, 61 per cent of marketers are personalising customer interactions at some stage across the buying journey, and 20 per cent see personalisation as one of the highest priorities for their organisation.
Yet their approach continues to be both simplistic and limited, report author, Jane Briggs, said during a press briefing to launch the new research. Many in fact aren’t tapping into the most lucrative data fields they can use to reap the rewards of improving individual experiences.
For example, more than 70 per cent of respondents are focused on personalising emails, while just 43 per cent are personalising a customer’s experience on their main website and 42 per cent on their mobile website.
Delving further into what is deemed personalisation, the report revealed 69 per cent of marketers are relying on location, and 67 per cent on a contact’s name. Fifty-four per cent are personalising based on the type of device a consumer is using.
However, the research showed the 41 per cent of more sophisticated respondents using purchase history to differentiate customer interactions were seeing significantly better results compared with campaigns that were non-personalised (50 per cent versus 41 per cent).
Across the board, 57 per cent of respondents also said they were disappointed in their organisation’s ability to personalise, and only 8 per cent believed their efforts were generally better than the industry average.
The Sitecore report was based on an online survey of 148 Australia and New Zealand marketers from both B2B marketing and B2C marketing backgrounds and a variety of industry sectors as well as company sizes.
Briggs admitted the results were not a good indictment of where local marketers are at when it comes to personalising their customer approach.
“Most marketers are saying they are good at personalisation, but if that’s the extent of what they are doing, we have a long way to go,” she said. “If you want to see results, it’s not just about using a consumer’s name and location, it’s about what I am interested in, what I’ve done in the past and what I have investigated on your site.”
One issue Briggs highlighted is the disparate views between what marketers believe consumers think about using their personal data to personalise interactions, versus the reality. She claimed the report showed consumers are responding positively to personalisation efforts, yet marketers are hyper sensitive about being perceived as “creepy”.
When asked their views as a consumer and then a marketer about how personal data being used in activities, the majority of respondents were cautious about how customers will feel (54 and 57 per cent, respectively).
In addition, fears around breaching privacy legislations were holding personalisation efforts back and were a particular concern for the more senior marketers surveyed in her research, she said. Nearly one-third said that as marketers, they were concerned about breaching data privacy compliance.
“This could be an opportunity for marketers to take on-board that education of consumers that there’s something in it for them,” Briggs commented.
Confusion around the data fields marketers need in order to provide personalised campaigns and interactions is another factor contributing both to the fears of overstepping privacy rules and the level of personalisation currently being achieved.
While the traditional practice has been to try and secure every piece of information about a consumer as possible right from the start, Briggs advised marketers to focus on those necessary fields that relate directly back to the benefits of providing personalised interactions.
“There is this entrenched idea that the more data we collect, the better off we are going to be. That is different to what we’re talking about here, which is seamlessly targeting the individual,” she said. “As a consumer, if I can’t see the correlation between the data I’m being asked to provide and the offer, that’s doing marketing a disservice and where consumers become annoyed.
“It’s about using the data and information we have in a smart way that deliver positive outcomes for the marketer but also the consumer.”
Lack of and outdated technology ranked as the top barrier to achieving better personalisation, particularly for small to medium-sized organisations of less than $20 million in annual revenue. For large organisations, disparate data sets and the use of multiple platforms was the biggest problem. Other key hurdles included limited budgets, time and concerns about the accuracy of existing databases.
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