Right time, right place, and right content has long been considered the silver bullet for digital marketers. But reality bites. The fact is, upwards of 97 percent of your web audience is anonymous. That means most marketers are effectively providing a colossal portion of their potential customers with impersonal, irrelevant experiences.

That tide is rapidly shifting for smart marketers armed with the right tools. This is among the many findings in a brand new report, Web Personalization: How big (and small) companies are increasing conversions and boosting retention published today on VB Insight.

The report covers the results of a survey of over 400 marketers using web personalization tools and a detailed review of 47 technology vendors offering website personalization features. The core finding? Web personalization really, really works. But you have to know which tools to use to get the most out of them.

It’s early days, but early adopters are seeing huge results

The report author, VB Insight analyst Andrew Jones, found that 87 percent of marketers using personalization tools have seen a lift of at least 5 percent in their most important metrics, excluding those who say it’s too early to tell. Two in five (39 percent) have seen increases of at least 20 percent in their most important metrics.

web personalization roi

These key metrics include areas like conversions, time on site, page views, average order value, and even lifetime value.

Imagine the value of a 20 percent conversion boost to a retailer? Or a B2B software company selling high value products?

So why isn’t everybody doing this already?

“For one, the technology has not been widely available,” Jones said. “For years, only the Amazons and Nikes of the world could justify the cost thanks to massive audiences.”

This is also because in many ways, depending on your industry, the Web can be one of the hardest channels to truly personalize. There’s no consistent point of contact or 1:1 link to CRM, as in, say, email — which is by far the most commonly used digital channel for personalization.

personalization channels

“Many companies have half a dozen vendors contributing to their web experience,” Jones said. “There’s no point of integration for the Content Management Systems (CMS), ecommerce, applications, search, merchandising, or other technologies. These tools don’t touch each other in any database — only in the browser when they touch the customer at the moment of customer interaction.”

Among the many other reasons most companies are not employing a tactical web personalization strategy that works — the market is already crowded with old standbys like Adobe or Hubspot, as well as dozens of upstarts rapidly gaining traction. VB is tracking the marketing technology universe closely. Last quarter, for instance, personalization vendors saw $669 million of venture capital investment.

Web personalization vendors offer dramatically different features based on who you are

An ecommerce company is going to approach personalization differently from a media company: The content is different, the media formats are different, and the audience is different. So depending on who you are, you’ll need a dramatically different toolset. Not only are the overall personalization philosophies different for B2B and B2C, but the types of data are used in very different ways. Some companies rely on anonymous behavioral data, when others rely on more individualized profile data. Some are plug-and-play, whereas others work best by integrating with other elements of your technology stack, like analytics, CMS, ecommerce, CRM, or your marketing automation platform.

Vendor breakdown personalization

Many personalization vendors are also most relevant to specific verticals, perhaps more than any other marketing technology category.

The report goes on to offer the best possible vendors by vertical — such as retail, publishing, travel, financial services, and others.

Jones’ report — Web Personalization: How big (and small) companies are increasing conversions and boosting retention — is available now for $299, or free with your VB Insight subscription.