Retailers understand what they need for next-level personalization, but they are still struggling with speed of action and depth of data. A survey by CMO Council and Catalina found that 72% of marketers said the time gap from insight to action is too long, and nearly 60% point to inconsistencies with the level of depth and granularity of customer insights — while another 36% admit they simply don’t have the data they need to know shoppers.
This is in some ways understandable: retailers are gaining access to deeper shopper data that is coming from a growing number of sources, from location tracking to social media.. While this offers retailers more varied and nuanced insights, it also makes understanding customers’ needs more complex than in the past. In fact, 81% of marketers said they are challenged to meet consumer expectations for personalized engagement. So while retailers’ tools are getting better, shopper demands are growing at an equal pace.
“The holy grail is to understand the buyer’s DNA,” said Dave Murray, Head of Content at CMO Council. “What are the preferences that drive them in terms of products? Where are they in the decision-making process? You have to respond to that consumer with the right engagement to, first of all, deliver value, and secondly, to help influence and drive the right purchase decision in terms of brand or retailer. Virtually all marketers understand the importance of that, and they’re all on the journey, but there is a long way to go.”
While half of marketers said personalization capabilities within their organizations are evolving more slowly than desired, retailers that want to develop best-in-class relationships with their customers need to live at the cutting edge. They must enhance their agility and leverage the power of multi-touch attribution to keep up with shoppers’ expectations.
Top Marketers Maintain Agility Mid-Campaign
The majority of marketers surveyed cannot or do not leverage in-flight analytics that would allow them to adjust their advertising and media mix in the middle of campaigns. This inability can severely limit marketers’ ability to connect with shoppers. Historical data will only get a marketer so far — being able to quickly measure and tweak ongoing efforts can save floundering campaigns, and turn good campaigns into great ones.
“There are a number of factors that are gating the ability to be more responsive,” said Murray. “One is whether you have the data and a solution to understand how different audiences you’ve targeted with your campaigns are responding. For instance, what kinds of media are most effective? Then it’s about whether you have flexibility in your budget to make adjustments once you have the information necessary to optimize your campaign.”
Maximizing agility involves both leveraging third-party expertise and changing in-house policies. In the survey, marketers expressed a desire for more:
- Personalized data such as previous purchases;
- Near-time data like social media behavior; and
- Real-time data, e.g. live shopping cart contents.
For many retailers, this means finding the right data partner, and then integrating their tools in a way that minimizes silos and gives access to relevant information as it’s needed.
Once the data has been gathered and analyzed, marketers need the ability to quickly act on what they discover, and the authority to make mid-campaign corrections. One-third of marketers said they do not have the capacity to adjust content or distribution in-flight to meet observed or forecasted campaign goals and targets, which hampers their ability to make the most of the information they do have.
Multi-Touch Attribution And Experimentation Power Better Personalization
An important tool for marrying data with action is multi-touch attribution. These measurements evaluate the impact of a campaign at each relevant touch point. This includes understanding where in the shopper journey the shopper is reached by the campaign and where they ultimately end up transacting (whether in-store or online), as well as all points in between.
This kind of dataset gives marketers a broad array of data points to examine, which can help them find key areas for improvement. Multi-touch attribution also can assess the value and impact of each point of media engagement, which helps free up budget and narrow the campaign’s focus to its most important actions. Marketers recognize multi-touch attribution’s value, and 34% listed it as one of the top three insights they wish they had more of.
However, intense data gathering alone isn’t enough. To make the most of their personalization efforts, retailers still need to combine these granular insights with an eye toward experimentation. Shoppers’ needs are constantly evolving, and marketers need to be empowered to keep up with shifting trends in as close to real time as possible.
“The CMO Council thinks that marketers need to prioritize and focus on capturing and analyzing the buyer to understand intentions and behavior triggers,” said Murray. “Is this buyer a gluten-free or an organic shopper? Are they price sensitive? Where are they in the shopping decision-making process? It’s about capturing the right kinds of data to get closer to understanding their DNA. Marketers need to develop multi-touch attribution and the flexibility to make changes to their campaigns in flight.”