Personalised marketing out, individualised marketing in?

29th July 2016 • Features

by Antony Begley, Managing Editor

New joint market research from Teradata Marketing Applications and Forbes Insights claims mass personalisation has failed and highlights agility as the best route to individualised marketing. 

“Mass personalisation has failed,” declares David Panek, Vice President of Global Marketing at Teradata Marketing Applications. “As consumers increasingly expect brands to deliver real-time, relevant messages, it is individualised marketing that is becoming more important.”

Teradata infographicPanek’s statement, made during the launch of some new research into personalised marketing, won’t come as much of a surprise to most data marketers. Even the term ‘mass personalisation’ itself implies simply giving the illusion of personalisation to marketing activity that just isn’t personalised in any real sense. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that customers see right through pseudo-personalisation and that, yes, mass personalisation has indeed failed.

The research been unveiled by Panek is a new global joint survey from Teradata Marketing Applications and Forbes Insights designed to help marketers understand trends in individualised marketing and highlight opportunities.

Titled “Personalized Marketing Out, Individualized Marketing In,” the report explores the role of individualised marketing in building customer and brand engagement. It’s worth noting howevere that, given Teradata’s enterprise-scale target audience, the survey was among organisations with annual turnovers of at least $501m.

The findings point to how improving marketing agility and creating connected interactions foster stronger customer relationships that directly impact the bottom line.  More than 300 marketing leaders around the globe took part in the survey.

To understand the impact of this study, it’s worth first properly framing the concept of true individualised marketing: the process of building experiences with customers and prospects – not through traditional segmentations, but by engaging with an individual on his or her channel of choice in a consistent and relevant way.

“This survey shows not only why individualised marketing matters but what is needed to achieve it,” says Panek. “And the key drivers are marketing agility and connected interactions.”

Panek’s take on the results is that agility and connectedness are the new ‘must haves’ for marketers. Agility allows marketers to make a better job of aligning resource allocation to adapt to rapid changes in their markets, allowing them to focus on initiatives that truly focus on the needs of the individual customer.

And agile marketing is growing in popularity. Well over half (56%) of respondents said they have adopted agile marketing in some form, while 41% said they have introduced it specifically to strengthen interactions with customers.  44% view connected interactions – deciding how, when and where to engage with consumers based on insights from web, social, mobile and other top data sources – as a critical issue.

Nonetheless, the Forbes-Teradata Marketing Applications survey indicates that many marketers, particularly those in companies over $2bn in revenue, face challenges when it comes to achieving the agility and connectedness needed to respond quickly to customers’ changing needs.  Specifically:

• 50% of respondents cited agility as a critical issue and/or challenge.

• 44% said too much bureaucracy is a challenge to introducing agility.

• 35% cited the difficulty of demonstrating ROI as an impediment to greater agility.

Additionally, companies struggle to achieve the right balance of agility and customer connectedness to improve their Individualized Marketing initiatives:

• 63% of respondents say they are achieving only “moderate” success in using individualised marketing for marketing agility;

• 59% say individualised marketing strategies come into play “least often” when engaging customers via connected interactions.

Notwithstanding the struggles, agile marketing is on the upswing as more marketers recognise the need to align agility with customer connectedness:

• 44% of respondents say they are most agile in the pre-transaction stage, when a customer is still searching for information about a product or service. Yet only 20% say that they are most connected with their customers at this preliminary stage in a buyer’s journey.

• 76% of respondents cited the purchase and buying stage of the customer sales cycle as important or very important for using individualised marketing techniques.

Most crucially of all, organisations need to make sure they are connecting with customers at the point of greatest impact: the point of purchase.

So what does it all mean? Well, if Teradata and Forbes are on the money, it seems that a new era of marketing is dawning.  Or, alternatively, we are seeing the death throes of the era of pseudo-personalisation. Gone are the days of “personalisation” by way of email messages with standard greetings and blocks of generic copy. Instead, savvy brands are launching individualised marketing initiatives that cater to each customer’s unique needs. But as these demands fluctuate, and customers become increasingly empowered, organisations must be able to quickly identify and respond to customer behaviours and market realities.

It’s also clear that technology will be key in delivering the capabilities needed to establish and maintain trust-based relationships with individual consumers whose expectations are soaring. That is backed up by the survey results with 45% of respondents citing technology as critical and 33% citing process and organisation are the best route.

Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and head of the CMO Practice at Forbes Media, concludes: “This study shows that marketing agility, which allows you to quickly adapt, and connected interactions, which supports creation of better customer experiences, are key to success in the new marketing environment.  Executives are aware of this, yet achieving individualised marketing remains a challenge, especially for larger companies.”


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