A new study by Forrester, commissioned by SAP Hybris, finds that although marketers are prioritizing personalization efforts across channels, they are less advanced than their customers think or expect.

The study compares the perspectives of 200 marketers with those of 1200 consumers.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 1.44.47 PM

Above: Base: 200 marketing professionals in the US, EMEA, and APAC. Source: Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP Hybris, July 2015

Although two-thirds of the marketers surveyed rate their personalization efforts as “very good” or “excellent,” just 31 percent of consumers reported that companies are consistently delivering personalized experiences.

In short, there is a distinct gap between consumers’ expectations of personalized marketing and what marketers are actually delivering.

Aside from this disparity, the report finds that personalization strategies today are immature. It shows that 91 percent of the marketers surveyed are prioritizing personalization over the coming year, yet many still rely on basic segmentation strategies.

VB Insight has found that in email marketing, the channel in which personalization is by far most common, more than half of marketers use only rule-based segmentation and half target fewer than 10 segments.

Email personalization - number of segments

Part of the challenge is that few companies have detailed or unified views of their customers. The study finds, unsurprisingly, that consolidating customer data enables enhanced personalization capabilities:

Unfortunately, most marketers today are working with customer data that is decentralized, spread across the organization in multiple databases that are updated in batch processes. To find success, marketers must prioritize consolidating data into a single database.

Collecting and consolidating customer identity is both a major challenge and an objective for marketers today, and a prerequisite for most personalization efforts.

customer identity funnel

Another important step to bringing personalization efforts up to user expectations will be using behavioral data:

In order to create these types of [personalized] customer experiences, marketers must strategically collect and utilize customer data, including real-time signals of intent, which are typically not captured today.

Although the report correlates behavioral data with social interactions, behavioral data, as a whole, also includes on-site and mobile behaviors. VB Insight previously predicted that behavioral data would soon become the primary data source for personalization efforts, as it provides particularly valuable real-time insight into consumer interest and intent.

An infographic based on the study is below:

SAP Hybris personalization infographic

More information:

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