The personalization hurdle that marketers don’t expect: organizational challenges

By Simon Farthing

August 30, 2017

Marketing teams who plan to transition from optimization to true 1-to-1 personalization often focus on anticipating technical hurdles, such as data integration or automating at scale. However, many don’t realize how much success will depend on human--not just technological--factors.

As Monetate’s recent 2017 Personalization Development Study reveals, 91% of senior marketers cite organizational constraints as among the chief obstacles to surpassing testing and segmentation. For example, companies with deeply entrenched departmental silos may find it harder to earn and sustain commitment from important stakeholders and hold people accountable for meeting personalization goals. The importance of planning for those challenges shouldn’t be understated: most likely, the personalization provider that you choose can help you navigate the technical challenges of implementation, but only someone with a deep understanding of the structure and culture of your business--that’s you--can anticipate the environmental factors that will equally be crucial to success. Based on findings from the study, we recommend the following actions to ensure that your organization is fully on board and ready to  support your personalization strategy:

  • Document your strategy – Setting clear objectives that describe what you want to achieve from personalization--such as maximizing a specific KPI--will go a long way: documentation has a direct correlation to an organization’s commitment to a personalization strategy and its subsequent success.  79 per cent of businesses that exceeded revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy, compared to only 31 per cent of those that met goals and eight per cent of those that missed revenue goals.  If you communicate a defined goal and get buy in from key stakeholders, your organization is likely to be much more effective in executing your strategy.

  • Create financial incentives & budget allocation – Nothing communicates organizational priority like clear dedication of finances: among the companies represented in the study, those that exceeded revenue goals use financial incentives for personalization 83 per cent of the time, compared to 23 per cent for those that met and 17 per cent for those that missed revenue goals. A dedicated budget is also an indicator of an organization’s commitment: companies with a dedicated personalization budget are the most successful revenue generators, exceeding their goals 83 per cent of the time, compared to 28 per cent for those that met and 33 per cent for those that missed revenue goals. And that budget is increasing at a significantly higher rate for those that exceeded revenue goals compared to their underperforming peers. By budgeting and creating financial incentives related to personalization, these brands are making it clear to their teams that personalization is a priority.

  • Don’t assume you need huge human resources to achieve results – You might expect that companies with the highest percent of people dedicated to personalization would have the highest rates of success. In fact, the opposite is true. Nearly half, 48 per cent, of those that exceeded revenue goals don’t have a dedicated person on personalization, compared to 23 per cent for those that met and 17 per cent for those that missed their revenue goals. At first this sounds shocking, but it is, in fact, a reflection of their maturity: it’s a sign that those organizations have moved away from experimenting with personalization, and have ingrained the practice throughout the operation as a normal course of business. The most successful businesses view personalization not as a side project, but as an integrated part of their ecommerce and marketing operations. It is a charter for everyone, not just someone.

Following these actions will help you align your internal messaging to cultivate a shared investment in personalization. The numbers show that companies who anticipate and address organizational challenges see revenue gains that far surpass their peers. If you focus on aligning your business culture with your business priorities in the ways listed above, you will put yourself in a strong position to offer better experiences for customers--and reap the financial benefits that follow.

Simon Farthing is a senior strategist with experience constructing digital and data driven success for a range of major brands. He's the Director of Strategy & Insight EMEA for Monetate. He provides expert advice to leading ecommerce brands and helps them drive growth and learn more about their customers.

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