30-second summary:

  • A new survey of its users by retail marketing platform Bluecore finds that targeted email personalization will be a top priority for marketers in the 2020s.
  • The survey points to the need for a better definition of the different kinds of personalization, especially when compared to Gartner’s recent dismissal of the future appeal of one-to-one personalization, in general.
  • Email-based personalization is one particular mode that satisfies Gartner’s requirement for scaling and ROI.

Don’t look now, but we’re about to enter the third decade of the 21st Century.

For retail marketers, says a new survey report from retail marketing platform Bluecore, that decade will be all about hyper personalization.

The survey, “2020 Retail Trends Report” [free], found that 57 percent of respondents said increasing the percentage of communications tailored to individual customers is their top personalization priority, primarily through email and owned e-commerce.

If they can effectively do this, they can forge an alternative to the increasing cost of digital ads.

But perhaps the most important thing marketers can do in the coming decade is make a clear distinction between the different kinds of personalization.

On the other hand, Gartner

Such a lack of distinctions led research firm Gartner to recently predict that 80 percent of marketers would abandon personalization efforts by 2025, because of a lack of return-on-investment (ROI).

This prediction was made in spite of the fact that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) recently selected “personalization” as the word of the year, and cited a variety of comments from marketers who endorsed the goal of personalization.

As it turns out, these different views — Bluecore’s, Gartner’s and ANA’s — are dependent on differing emphases for personalization.

In support of their prediction, Gartner Research VP Jennifer Polk told ClickZ that about half of (Read more...) expenditures were oriented toward nebulous results like customer experience, and couldn’t easily be assigned a ROI.


‘Personalization’ focused on email

The prediction’s main point, she said, is that personalization needs to be redefined away from one-to-one marketing, because the cost of accomplishing that at scale in web site content, targeted offers and other measures simply cannot keep up with the demonstrable ROI.

Bluecore, however, is a retail marketing platform that focuses on email triggered by user behavior, which is a specific mode of personalization that can more readily be scaled to one-to-one and measured for whether the financial investment is worthwhile.

Another factor in the Bluecore survey is that the nearly 200 respondents were selected during the 5th Annual Bluecore Summit, so their orientation is toward that platform’s mode of personalization.

In the question about the number one priority for personalization, for instance, only 5 percent of this group felt that creating a more relevant on-site experience for individual customers, such as targeted pop-ups or individual product recommendations, was the top need.

“The majority of retail marketers (57%) are focusing their personalization efforts on email,” Bluecore said, because of the ability to control the message and the cost.

If this is true for marketers across the board, it could answer Gartner’s objection about scaling up one-to-one personalization without breaking the bank.

The new survey report from Bluecore also found that marketers top three objectives were, in order: boosting revenue from email, increasing repeat purchases and driving more site traffic.

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