When deployed effectively, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want—but new research finds that while marketing leaders and C-level execs clearly recognize the importance of personalization, the majority appear to overestimate their current capabilities.

The new report, from digital agency innovation network SoDA and digital experience software firm Sitecore, explores the evolution of digital personalization and examines the strategies and tools required to produce the most effective consumer experience. The findings revealed that 83 percent of marketing leaders and C-level executives increased their investments in personalization efforts for 2019 with 32 percent pointing to a “significant budget increase” this year.

Personalization budgets are booming—but execs admit capabilities are still lagging

Here’s the dilemma

When it comes to digital experience personalization, 67 percent of global leaders rate their organizations as “Masters” or “Experts” with robust and advanced levels of personalization capabilities—but despite rating themselves highly in terms of organizational maturity, less than 40 percent are currently utilizing even the most basic targeting criteria for personalization.

“There’s no doubt that digital experience personalization is a growing priority for marketing leaders and C-level executives across the globe,” said Tom Beck, executive director at SoDA, in a news release. “While our data shows increased spending to improve capabilities, the majority of organizations still point to constrained budgets, limitations with their technology platform, and challenges with their data as some of the biggest barriers hindering their progress. It’s also worth noting that more than half of all organizations lack an adequate strategic roadmap and investment plan for their personalization capabilities.”

Personalization budgets are booming—but execs admit capabilities are still lagging

“There’s nothing scarier for me as a marketer than the idea that personalization budgets are increasing, but marketers are overestimating their current capabilities and underestimating what it takes to truly master personalization,” said Paige O’Neill, chief marketing officer at Sitecore, in the release. “Despite the fact that over a third of marketers see digital experience as a major competitive advantage, most are struggling to leverage crucial personalization techniques, from basic targeting to AI capabilities. Without building a solid internal architecture and tapping external resources … opportunities and, ultimately, return on the investments will be lost.”

Personalization budgets are booming—but execs admit capabilities are still lagging

Notably, the research also found that the focus on personalization is universal

The importance of digital experience personalization and plans for increased investments varied little across geographic regions, leadership roles, and size of digital budget, indicating that personalization is a consistent, global priority.

The findings of the research highlight these and other key issues that both agency leaders and brand marketers face, while delivering valuable insight into the current state, as well as future trends, of digital personalization. In addition to the in-depth research component and summation, the report includes original articles providing crucial guidance on overcoming personalization barriers by industry leaders from Microsoft, Perficient Digital, Dept, Deepend, Sitecore, and more. Finally, the report also provides readers a deep-dive into investment priorities, content production, data practices, and budget allocation.

Download the full report here.

Personalization budgets are booming—but execs admit capabilities are still lagging

In partnership with Sitecore, the global leader in digital experience management software, SoDA has released The SoDA Report On… Global Trends in Personalization, highlighting challenges and opportunities for global business leaders in digital experience personalization. The SoDA Report On is a white-paper series spun from the larger annual trend publication, The SoDA Report, used by today’s top agencies and brands to understand the dynamics impacting the future of marketing.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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