The Top 7 Marketing Personalization Mistakes

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Companies that get marketing personalization right perform much better than those that don’t, according to a McKinsey & Company report.

Companies that grow faster drive 40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts. “Across U.S. industries, shifting to top-quartile performance in personalization would generate over $1 trillion in value, McKinsey added.

The Top 7 Marketing Personalization Mistakes

According to marketing managers, there are 7 common marketing personalization mistakes that brands are making today that keep them from maximizing the benefits of their personalization efforts.

1. Using Incomplete Data

Personalization should incorporate a variety of data sources, spanning from zero to third party data, said Jonathan Moran SAS product marketing manager.


“Zero-party data (data collected voluntarily and directly from customers) should be combined with first-party (customer demographic data) along with the less valuable second-party (customer data that is collected and then sold) and third-party data (data collected by an entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the customer) sources.”

Zero and first-party data are the most valuable for personalization, and companies should use this to form the basis of their personalization strategies, Moran added. Organizations that are using primarily second and third-party data to perform personalization will often see poor content personalization practices, low response rates on personalization efforts, and little overall value from personalization programs.

2. Failing to Ensure Data Quality

« To effectively accomplish personalized communications, there are increased demands on data quality, said Christian Wettre, SugarCRM senior vice president and general manager, Sugar Platform. “Personalization efforts are often not as effective as intended when marketers are not confident in the accuracy of details in their databases. Lacking this confidence, the personalization is often diluted by a generalization of the message.”

To overcome this issue, Wettre recommended that the marketing and CRM databases should be treated as valuable assets and carefully vetted, appended, culled, and curated.
“Successful marketers will systematically validate and augment their data, and look to incorporate third-party intent data,” Wettre said. “When a marketing team trusts their data, they are freed to unleash greater creativity and author more interesting and relevant messaging. »

3. Failing to Profile Customers

To increase your effectiveness in correctly receiving feedback, you must profile your customers, said Jim Pendergast, senior vice president of SVP of altLINE, a division of The Southern Bank Company. “Find out who they are, what they like, and how changes in your store affect the way they shop. You can usually track these types of changes using analytics software, which can be a huge help in increasing your effectiveness. Though you can’t help everyone the same way, you can provide several options that will suit people all over your region.”

4. Using a Partial View

Personalization can’t be performed on a channel-by-channel basis, Moran said. “Nothing frustrates an end customer more than getting a message on one channel (e-mail) for an offer that was just accepted (or declined) on another channel (call center, in store, ecommerce, etc.).

To remedy this, Moran recommended techniques like deterministic identity management and resolution to join customer data (all types) from all channels to get a holistic view of the customer.

5. Defining Personalization Too Narrowly

Similarly, too many organizations fail to consider everything personalization should include, said Sarah Cascone, Bluecore vice president of marketing. “Companies need to understand that personalization is more than just a name in a subject line; it’s the product recommendations, offers, and channel timing that creates true curation. It begins with valuable identification. Businesses commonly use identification to gather emails and phone numbers, instead of capturing the data on shopper preferences that will allow them to reach consumers on a deeper level. Once that understanding is established, businesses can move to measuring the success of their personalization strategy.”

Cascone added that the best way to tell if a personalization strategy is working is if your first-time and repeat buyers are increasing. Through personalized automated recommendations retailers should see an increase in first-time purchases. After analyzing what incentivized that first-time shopper to buy, businesses can continue leveraging that information to drive repeat purchases.

6. Forgetting Process Optimization

Organizations that don’t incorporate optimization into their personalization practices are doing two things: they are wasting organizational resources (time, money, content development time, etc.) and they are frustrating their customers, Moran said. “There is no need for a brand to communicate with an end consumer every day via email or sponsored social ad.Set optimization rules up to communicate with consumers at appropriate time intervals, when contextually relevant. Optimization rules that contain the correct contact policies and business constraints will help brands gain the most from personalization programs.”

7. Not Measuring the Right Things

Good personalization goes beyond conditional logic, Moran explained. Using if x, then y rules (for instance if a customer visits a certain product page on my website, send them a retargeting email) isn’t the best strategy. Personalization must include analytics, whereby propensity scores, value scores, and customer lifetime value scores among other analytical metrics must be factored into personalization decisions across channels, devices, and points in time.

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