ColorOpt2 Research

MessageGears Research: Cross-Channel Personalization is Hard

Any enterprise marketer who has made the leap into cross-channel messaging knows it’s difficult to execute a sophisticated cross-channel strategy for a variety of reasons. At the top of that list of obstacles are technology that doesn’t serve the Super Sender’s needs, and data that’s challenging to access.

This is some of what we found in our new survey, where we asked enterprise marketers about their experiences in the cross-channel space, and tried to better understand what’s working and what’s not. And when it comes to personalization, there are some clear hurdles that they’re trying to find a way to get past.

Technology isn’t getting the job done

With email, it seems that marketers are doing pretty well with getting the personalization they want. A full three-fourths of respondents to our survey said email was easy to personalize with. And that’s not hard to understand. Email is a mature channel with decades behind it. That not only means that the marketers understand it better and may be more comfortable with it than they are with newer channels, but it also means that an entire industry full of tools has had time to build up to serve them for it.

Most email service providers Super Senders use have been around for close to 20 years. Email is woven into the fabric of our everyday life, both inside and outside of work. And, as personalization has gotten more sophisticated, email has been able to grow alongside it. There are still plenty of challenges to overcome, but the building of personalized emails is relatively established and easy for marketers.

But cross-channel changes everything. Now, it’s about way more than just email. Now, those campaigns may have to adjust to the needs of push and SMS, with different opportunities and limitations. In our survey, 53% said personalizing via push isn’t easy, and 54% said the same about SMS. What works on one channel isn’t necessarily going to work on another. A marketer who’s an expert in email marketing may not be as well versed in mobile push.

And the technology from so many ESPs simply isn’t keeping up with the demand. Well over half (57%) of the marketers in our survey said they have to use separate systems and UIs to build campaigns across various channels, leading to 74% of them having siloed cross-channel teams. Instead of efficiency and cohesion, the technology is pushing teams to work separately because that’s how the tech works. And every single respondent who said personalization is difficult also said their team is siloed.

Need new ways to access data

When it comes to cross-channel messaging personalization in 2019, data is everything. Without clean, reliable customer data that’s readily accessible for the marketers who are building the campaigns, personalizing at scale is frustrating and inefficient at best, and impossible at worst.

And, traditionally, Super Senders have found their way over to big marketing cloud ESPs that need to store the data as marketers are working with it. Our survey revealed that 25% of enterprise marketers were in this situation, clipping off copies of data segments in order to send up to the ESP’s cloud for building campaigns. That means that, even if the campaign-building interface works well for email, it’s still a frustrating experience for the marketer because of all the hoops they have to jump through to get to their data — even though they said email was easy to personalize with, they still said email was the most frustrating channel to work with.

But we see some of this changing — 35% said they’ve migrated their data over to a cloud/modern data warehouse, while another 28% have an in-house database. That’s more than 60% whose companies have understood how essential data consolidation and access is, and have invested in technology that grants them that. It’s a big change from just a few years ago, when these modern data warehouses didn’t even exist. Snowflake was founded in 2012. Amazon Redshift didn’t get going until 2013.

Cross-channel marketing is a rapidly changing world, and it’ll look a good bit different in another 5-10 years than it does today. But the need for personalization at scale isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’s likely to get even more essential. And Super Senders are starting to realize they need better tools in order to do it well.

Jeff Haws

With 20 years of experience in journalism and writing, Jeff brings an expertise in producing impactful content, identifying audiences, and writing in a way people will want to read. He’s focused on helping businesses better understand who it is they’re talking to, and helping them reach those people via the power of words.

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