Payal Hindocha
Payal Hindocha 15 December 2021

Nothing Personal: Examining Barriers to Effective Personalisation

As the world of retail continues to evolve, marketers find themselves fighting to stand out within a maelstrom of new competitors, channels and ever-changing customer expectations. We’re seeing marketers being forced to take on more and more responsibility for the overall success of their organisation.

As the world of retail continues to evolve, marketers find themselves fighting to stand out within a maelstrom of new competitors, channels and ever-changing customer expectations. We’re seeing marketers being forced to take on more and more responsibility for the overall success of their organisation.

Emarsys’ research uncovered that almost a third (29%) of retail marketers are now responsible for customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), digital marketing, branding, customer acquisition and customer retention. Many are finding themselves stretched thinner than ever before – as they’re required to deliver more complex work, across a wider field, in the same or less time.

But, despite this ever-expanding workload, budgets aren’t being extended to reflect this — in fact, Gartner suggests they’re at an all-time low. Throw outdated technology into the mix, and I think it’s fair to say that the job of a marketer has never been so hard.

As it stands, marketers need more time in the day – and for many, an inability to execute across various channels is holding them back.

Time and Technology

In today’s competitive retail landscape, personalisation should be taking centre stage when it comes to ensuring long-term business success. Four-fifths (85%) of retail marketers consider personalisation important to driving both increased revenue and better customer experiences (CX).

However, providing a genuinely 1:1 personalised experience is easier said than done. It takes time, technology, and a thorough understanding of customer data – and a quarter (24%) of marketers consider themselves unable to act on their existing customer data.

Unfortunately for many, their technological toolset makes the provision of a truly personalised experience a pipe dream. They’re instead forced to prioritise technical and IT tasks, wrangling data instead of analysing it –assuming they can access it at all.

In truth, far too many retail marketers are facing today’s challenges with a martech stack that simply isn’t fit for purpose. Poor technology integrations, and departmental and data silos, are leaving them unable to see the wood for the trees – buried in unactionable data and stretched beyond their limits through no fault of their own.

All of these issues ultimately add up to huge amount of wasted time. Given the fact that marketers are already trying to juggle more tasks than they can handle, this is not time that they can afford to lose – and businesses will feel the knock-on effects.

So: what does this mean for marketers? Whether it’s evolving roles, the changing data landscape, or the push for business results, none of the roadblocks facing marketers are going away any time soon. How do they rise to the challenge and deliver the personalisation that customers require in such a demanding environment?

Returning Power to the Marketer

Successfully creating such a personalised experience will require investment into superior marketing tactics and technologies. Marketers need an empowering martech stack that enables them to focus on real outcomes, for their end customers, their business and even their own development.

Thankfully, to free up more of their time and break through the barriers holding them back, almost half (48%) of marketers at retail brands are planning to take the leap and invest in more web personalisation technologies over the next 12 months. The appetite is already there.

But what should this investment look like?

Looking Forward

It shouldn’t look like Frankenstein’s monster, bolting on more and more platforms and systems to an already disjointed technology stack. Although implementing patchy tech can plug a few holes in the short term, the final result is inevitably going to be an even more complex technology stack, leading to more wasted time and money.

Instead, marketers are crying out for unified solutions that present them with more time, more understanding, and ultimately a greater business impact. Centralisation of tools – and more importantly, of data – offers marketers to perform more granular analysis that also offers more scope, driving a greater understanding of the customer that is so important to personalisation.

On top of that, artificial intelligence solutions are going to have to play a major role in personalisation efforts. By automating the most time-consuming elements of the marketing role, like sorting and analysing data, marketers are relieved of tedious tasks and given the opportunity to concentrate on driving more engagement, retention & customer loyalty. If the data is already centralised, the benefits are exponential.

AI can also engage and convert more users faster, with lifecycle, predictive and behavioural segmentation that uses all customer data — whether that’s online, offline, product, sales, mobile, or in-store. This also addresses the challenge of executing across various channels.  Ditching silos and having all your data in the one single source allows individuals to be targeted through whatever channel best resonates with that customer.

To sum it up, the barriers that stand in the way of effective personalisation are not going to remove themselves. If businesses want to get a leg up in today’s ever-more competitive market, they need to take their martech stack seriously and put their faith in automation.

Understandably, the initial investment can seem daunting. However, the benefits of being able to harness data with a full integrated martech deployment are far beyond what’s possible with a disjointed, mismatch of solutions.   

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