Brands Are Creating Bad Personalization

Bad personalization is real. A recent global study by Sitecore, The challenges of gaining contextual insight, showed that 96% of surveyed consumers are doing poorly in personalization. Out-of-date personal information, wrong personal preferences and using a single transaction to make personalization assumptions are vital issues that are turning away consumers.

The global study, which Sitecore conducted in partnership with Vanson Bourne, analyzed responses from 6,800 consumers and 680 marketing and IT decision makers to understand how brands are managing the data they collect from consumers, including how they are securing, analyzing, and using it to deliver more personalized customer experience. The research, conducted in 14 countries, also examined consumer comfort with sharing data, their expectations of the experiences brands should provide them as a result, and their thoughts on personalization.

Personalization is a high priority for brands. In fact, 79% place it as their top priority. The survey showed that brands are finding it difficult to manage and mine customer data to "both inform customer experience strategies and deliver on the promise of personalization." As a result, customers acknowledge that many brands are, in fact, providing "bad personalization," which upon more in-depth analysis, does not deliver on the promises of personalization.

The data deluge is to blame, said the survey. On average, brands said they are collecting eight different types of data about online customers; ranging from transactional details to behavioral insights and trends. Around 31% of brand respondents point to a lack of skills needed to use or analyze the data collected properly, and 42% don't have the capabilities to integrate data collection. Only 12% can collect online data on an individual (versus a consumer segment) level.

Brands in China are especially bad at data collection and integration. Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) brand respondents in mainland China lack integration between data collection apps, higher than the global average of 42%. Also, there are considerably more brands in mainland China who are not equipped with the right analytical tools to collect (36%) or store customer data (26%), compared to the global figures of 20% and 15% respectively. These findings point to the crucial need for brands in mainland China to enhance their customer data collection and integration capabilities.

"Customers are openly providing insights for brands to understand their wants and needs, but brands are struggling to hold up their end of the deal," said Scott Anderson, CMO of Sitecore in a press release. "The level of expectation that today's consumer has coupled with the level of dissatisfaction brand marketers have with the tools and resources available to them, suggests brands must take urgent action to improve their ability to collect, connect, analyze, and act on customer data."

Other findings:

  • Customers think brands know more about them than they do: Customer respondents (56%) thought brands knew their purchase history more than brand respondents said they were collecting (47%).
  • Many brands struggle with existing analytics solutions: Only 12% can collect online data at an individual level, while the percentage in mainland China is even lower at 9%. Although 65% of brands report using digital analytics software, more than half (53%) said they were not completely satisfied with their current solution. Specifically, in mainland China, 65% of brand respondents – the same as the global average – use digital analytics software. However, 78% of them said they were not completely satisfied with the performance of their solutions, 25% higher than the global average.  According to respondents, the main reason for this dissatisfaction is that brands do not think that the digital analytics software they use can provide the in-depth level of insights they require (51%).
  • Brands crave more insight about their customers: When asked what they want most from a customer intelligence solution, roughly three out of five brands (61%) indicate the ability to view customers on an individual level, more than half (55%) want real-time insights into customer behavior, and more than a third (37%) want to be able to integrate customer data across the channels in which they receive it. Compared to the global average, brand respondents in mainland China have a stronger desire for real-time insights into customer behavior (69%) and cross-channel integration (41%).